Best way to Buy Kimono?
People frequently ask us what the best way to buy Kimono online from Japan. Any scam cases? Here is our recommendation.
We receive many inquiries about our Japan travel information. At the same time many also asked us where they can get Kimono from Japan. Like any online shop in this world, there seem several scam cases where no product arrived and the customer got a very different item from what they ordered.
In Japan there is a saying " the cheap person loses more ": meaning that if one trying to get really cheap item, the person even loses more to get a item with no value or even with more trouble attached.
The best and safest way to source your Kimono and Yukata from Japan is...be in Japan visiting all the Kimono shops around the country like in Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo. You need to feel the products and see the details. Today we do not often see people in Kimono but in the old time everybody wore Kimono in Japan, which means Japan is the big Kimono source of the world. If you look into the closet of many Japanese family, there are two or three set of Kimono( Furisode, Uchikake, Houmongi, Tomesode, Hakama, Yukata etc.) sleeping.
If you buy the second hand Kimono, it is almost always that Kimono are not washed even at once. Kimono is made of fragile textile like silk and needs to be kept in a special care so that the vintage value does not go away. Many vintage Kimono have survived over 10-50 years carrying the stories of each owner. The "story" means sometimes just some spots! The most the former owner loves the item, the more probably the Kimono went through a lot before reaching your hand.
What to look when buying Kimono online?
There are always good side and bad side for things, right? Travelling to Japan is not cheap. And, many shop staff do not speak English to explain what the items are. Also, some shop staff are very good at talk and some experienced buying what they did not need really...
In this sense, online shop is where you can take your time and decide with your free will.
There are several online Kimono shops with credit. If you follow some basic rules, you can find great Kimono online from Japan.
Stick to the basic of shopping:
1. Always read the description
As we mentioned above, there are almost always "stories" on each Kimono. If you buy online, when you get the item in your hand, you always have the risk of finding something you did not find when ordering on PC/smartphone screen. Some shops deliberately not disclose it even.
Trust worthy online Kimono shops have the detailed descriptions about the item as to if any spot, dirt, damage, sunburn, hole. Gorgeous Kimono or rare design Kimono sell very fast thus it is sometimes a matter of time if you can get it and you want to decide quick and pay quick. Some online shoppers buy without reading the description. In other words, if you find no description, just do not buy it.
2. Always read reviews (on common shopping platforms!)
As the shop does not exist in your area, you can not go around and hear what their customers say about the shop. (sometimes the shop does not even exist!) Word of mouth is so important. If shop review available, always read the reviews first. Usually even when the official shop website has no review, if you go to a common shopping platform such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy, there are always reviews to check. How great and authentic the shop may look to you and if no review, just do not buy it.
Careful when the reviews are in the official websites. Within the official website, it is totally up to the shop owner which reviews to show and hide, or even put the positive review as the owner themselves write (!). We really do not trust the reviews in the official websites.
This way, (we are sure that you may also all agree that) the reviews on the common shopping platforms (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Etsy) are relatively trust-worthy.
3. If not sure, always ask
If you have anything uncertain, do not forget to ask the seller. With this, you learn what type of person the seller is, how quick and well organized the response is, how well the seller is familiar with Kimono. If there is no response, it is a sign the shop is not well maintained or non-exist. Even though you could buy an item from such a shop, you may have possible problems later.
In the end, most vintage Kimono is a "used" Kimono. If you are sensitive with any kind of stain or so, we recommend you to buy a new one.
In next section, we share with you several most common issues you may come across when buying from Japanese Kimono online shops. And in the last section, we introduce where best and safest to buy Kimono online from Japan.
Common issues for online Kimono shop
We view that many of Kimono shops in Japan are honestly trying hard to give you the best value for the best of Kimono culture, and that mistakes can happen when dealing with heavy load. But, as the best partner of our reader, there are issues we need to inform you when buying from an online Kimono shop from Japan. Therefore, you have minimum risk (hopefully!).
Here are the common issues when you buy from online shops in Japan.
1. Insufficient information/dishonesty
Some massive vintage online Kimono shops deal with so many items. Thus the description tends to be insufficient.
And unfortunately we have experienced sometimes dishonesty with some online Kimono shops. It is not always but it does happen (happened to us) that the shops only put photos of the nice parts of Kimono and hide the part full of spots or dirt. When we received the items, we were so disappointed to find out the Kimono was full of spots and just un-wearable. There is little point arguing about this for a long time with the shop when it is so far away and not ready to communicate in English.
Sad to say but dishonesty is not strange for business in Japan. You go to supermarket or restaurant etc. in Japan and see the price tag or price on the menu. You are most likely to see the price with big fonts which is only without the 8% tax. The price incl. the 8 % is usually written so small so that you do not notice it. At the cashier, you pay the price with 8%, you would feel strange that the price got more expensive than you thought. Almost all does that because "others do and not illegal". Common experience for foreigners in Japan.
You ordered and paid, your item does not come to your hand. It is another common issue. When an online Kimono shop not familiar with overseas shipment, Kimono is more likely to be stopped at the custom. In such case, you often need to travel to the custom office (which is usually located at an inconvenient address deliberately) and fill in the form, explain and pay the additional import tax.
Because it is up to the whim of officer at custom office, this issue could happen to overseas-business-experienced shop too but the probability is simply too high for inexperienced shop. This is why some shops in Japan do not ship to overseas.
You make sure the shop is experienced with the overseas shipping. You can tell this from the reviews (of the common shopping platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, not the official shop's own (read the above section)!)
3. Non delivery
There are shops which do not ship simply (but take money from you!). It is just a scam. Yes, Japan is a trademark for credibility. Yet, you can not always expect that you have no problem because you buy from online shops in Japan. There are many kind of people in Japan (there are many shops these days selling Kimono it is not because they are passionate about Kimono but just want to make money. Nothing wrong with that as long as treating customer with care and honesty but there are also people who abuse this chance to steal money from you) today and because of the power of online, you can not see in person the face of the shop owner.
Signs of fraud shop:
1. first and for all, when the review says so(!) Note: the "review" here means not the review inside of official shop which is easily editable by the shop( webshop owner) but go for the reviews on the common shopping platforms (Amazon, eBay, Etsy...).
2. when the price is too cheap or too expensive
Well, for instance, you found two suspicious online shops, one is selling really cheap and the other selling super expensive? Our recommendation is just to skip them. But if you insist, of course, go for the cheap one. Even if in both case you lose money, you lose not as much as the other option.
4. Lack of communication
It is common that Japanese online shop do not communicate in English. Even if it does, English level sometimes is not high enough to explain in details or clearly.
Now worried too much? Well, do not worry. We will introduce some great online Kimono shop with minimum concern of these issues in the below section.
Best online Kimono shop from Japan
The Best and safest shop to buy Kimono is Salz Tokyo. Their shop sells vintage Kimono online. Right now, this shop seems to offer the INTERNATIONAL FREE SHIPPING. It reads this offer only for Sept, 2017. You better be hurry to order as much as you can!
It is simple that we work with the people who run the shop.
Among numerous shopping service/forwarding service vendors, Kaeru Parcels has achieved one of the highest credibility. Countless customers have thanked us for the speed and care for details (we, the Kaeru team, even must thank the warehouse managers and customer service staff in the Kaeru office for this!).
We work closely with the team of Salz Tokyo fashion brand and we know that they work hard searching for the high quality Kimono around Japan and checking their items with the highest care and being honest with the quality of items to their customers. Salz Tokyo puts all information about spot, colour, damage etc. So that you know what you get. The shop is very experienced with overseas shipping. In addition to our word, you can see their trust level from the reviews of their Etsy shop (one of the biggest common shopping platforms).
Salz Tokyo is a small business trying hard everyday to spread Kimono culture to the world. Kaeru team supports these type of small businesses internationally.
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Disclaimer: Even though we try to make the info as updated and accurate but the accuracy of the information herein is not guaranteed by us. If you have any uncertainty, please contact the information source.