Okinawa Kimono Walk (in Miyakojima)

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Okinawa Kimono Walk

I just came back from an enchanted break in Miyakojima, Okinawa. Six days and five nights on "my" islathe place I love the mo in the world after Fukuoka, my second home.
I, once again, forgot to update the blog. Sorry. But iI can't help it.  I didn't want to open my computer when I was there. It's time to catch up, starting with a extra number from a series you know well now.

View from Higashi Hennazaki, Miyakojima
View from Higashi Hennazaki

This time even though I took some pictures, I mainly shot videos and I wasn't sure about writing about Miyako. But during this stay I did a photo session in kimono which ended to be really nice and I had to show yoit. I then had the idea to transpose my Fukuoka Kimono Walk to Miyakojima, to present you both the kimono photos and some of the places I went to Miyako.

It's been a while since I was looking for a shop or agency in Miyako to try a real Okinawa kimono. Apart from the wedding shots (overpriced) there was nothing and then, miracle, this year I found two places to satisfy my urge for ryûsô (Okinawa kimono).
I chose the cheapest one of the two : Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo.

This tiny shop, which only advertises through its blog and its Facebook page, is rather difficult to find because it's kind of lost in the middle ofa tiny road of western Hirara, the largest city on the island. After ringing the bell I was greeted by a charming lady who took me to the room reserved for her little business.
You should know that in Miyako many restaurants, cafes and shops are located within the house of their owner which gives this friendly feeling that I love so much. I
This small room was all about wood and tatami and very clean and new.
Dozens of sanshin, this three-stringed instrument from Okinawa are hung on the wall between large mirrors and the rod reserved for kimonos.

 I undressed in a cabin provided for this purpose and put on my tabis (socks) and special underwear: a sleeveless blouse and shorts, both white. Then I tied my hair and was able to choose my kimono.

Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo
Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo

I had the choice between 3 colors: red, pink and yellow.
For me the yellow is the perfect representation of Okinawa kimonos so I directly selected it which made the lady laugh a lot.
All the kimonos were bingata (紅型), aka colored with large flower patterns or Okinawa's representative things (plants, shisa and so on). I think it's the image that comes directly into people's mind when talking about Okinawa fabric but there are two other much more sober styles called kasuri (がすり) et hana-ori (花織).

I then chose my under-kimowhich was basically choose the collar that I liked the most. I hesitated between the one I wear (purple, red and pink) and one with patterns. Thinking it would be toomuch patterns,  I chose the simplest.

Then it was start to dress me up !
Before the under-kimonoI was tied a long white and pleated skirt that makes my body very elegant and elongated! I could have walked outside only wearing that wit no problem. Then I wear the under-kimono and the ryuso.
The kitsuke (how to put on the kimono) was fast and it surprised me a lot. In fact, the ryuso is closed only around the stomach, the top being left loose. There is no obi (belt) either, just a violet colored link called murasaki nagasaji (紫長巾).
The length of the ryuso is also adjusted, at about mid-calves, in order to show the long white skirt. The whole outfit is very feminine, I liked it very much.

For the hairstyle, I simply raised my hair in a fast bun and the lady placed me flowers as a crown. She and I were delighted with the result: I felt like I had a field of tropical flowers on my head. A small ornamental clip on the chest later and I was ready for the photo shoot.

We started with a few indoor photos withme holding a sanshin and then the lady gave me some wooden sandals and we went out to the garden.
It was superb: a very green lawn and a lot of tropical plants and flowers.
I felt so good wearing my ryuso and surrounded by all these colors. It was not far from noon and the sun hit hard but it wasn't hot.
The y ryuso is made in a finer fabric than the other Japanese kimonos and the sleeves are wider to let the air circulate the air so people better support the tropical heat of the area.

I gave my camera to the lady who gave me in exchange an umbrella and a hanagasa (花笠), this traditional hat from Okinawa.
Red and blue, it looks like a hibiscus flower seen from above, the blue representing the sea: the perfect description of Okinawa. It is almost exclusively worn at festivals, by traditional dancers and singers and is rather expensive (and I want one).

The lady was not a pro photograph but the pictures came out to be very nice. She told me how to pose so I wouldn't  have the shadow of the umbrella in my face for example. And then she knew her subject perfectly, telling me precisely how I had to hold the umbrella and hanagasa for a natural and authentic feeling.
The umbrella was very heavy.  I don't think you can notice on the pictures but my wrist really hurt.

But I had a great time, passed too quickly. I wish I could walk around a bit in this outfit.

After the photo shoot I changed back to my normal clothes and received as a gift a big can of sanpin-cha, the jasmine tea of ​​Okinawa that I love.

This one hour was a very good experience that I intend to renew the next time I go to Miyako. It also made me want to deepen my knowledge, especially in bingata and why not take Okinawa kitsuke classes of there are some in Fukuoka.
I wish I can try various kimono on various Okinawa islands too.

I hope that seeing my pictures will make you want to go to Miyako or Okinawa and try a ryuso.
It's is possible not only in Miyako but also on Okinawa main island and Ishigaki and probably other islands. Men can also try!

See you for an other Kimono Walk somewhere in Japan ! 

Ryuso (Okinawa kimono) experience, Miyakojima

Shisa, Miyakojima, Okinawa

Ryuso (Okinawa kimono) experience, Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo

"Triangle point", Irabujima,  Miyakojima, Okinawa
A (not so anymore) secret point of view in Irabu island

Okinawa kimono details
Kimono details

Miyakojima cider
Along with sanpin-cha (jasmin tea) Miyakojima cider are the best soft drink of the island

Okinawa kimono experience, Miyakojima

Hibiscus in Utopia Farm, Miyakojima
Hibiscus in Utopia Farm

Okinawa kimono experience, Miyakojima

The blue sea around Kurimajima, Miyakojima, Okinawa
Sea around Kurimajima

Some spots around Miyakojima, Okinawa
Some spots around Miyakojima, Okinawa

Miyakojima mascot Yui-chan
Miyakojima mascot Yui-chan

Okinawa kimono experience blogger, Miyakojima

Access and useful informations

Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo

Opening hours
Every day between 9 and 18 (experience takes about 1 hour)

From 1 person to 4 people


1500 yens

Inquiries and reservation
Tel: 080-5645-1322

▶︎ Blog (in Japanese)

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