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Tokyo 135˚

The Tokyo 135˚ shop is hidden away on the second floor in a small building on a back street of Harajuku, Tokyo’s energetic youth culture district. If you don’t know it is there, you’ll most probably never find it. You’d miss out on Harajuku’s best modern kimono shop.

Wednesday December 3, 2008
Tokyo 135˚ Kimono

Tokyo 135˚ doesn’t look like your average kimono shop. For one thing, there is not a single tatami mat in the whole store. It is modern, fun and the music is J-Pop. “We want to appeal to young people,” says shop assistant Yuki Inoue (23).

Tokyo 135˚ was started in October, 2005, as a project of students of Chuo University. They thought up the concept, found the location and ran the store. Financial and practical support was given by Tokyo Yamaki K.K., a company with many years of experience in the fashion market. When the students’ project ended in October 2007, Tokyo Yamaki took over the shop. Last September it added a new one at another location.

“We sell everything that has to do with Kimono,” explains Inoue, “kimono, obi (sash around middle), obijime (belt around obi), zori (traditional footwear) and so on.” Tokyo 135˚‘s selection consists of both new and used kimono. “Most of the used kimono are from the Showa Period (1924-1989),” says Inoue.

Tokyo 135˚
Yuki Inoue at the Tokyo 135˚ Harajuku store

Although the shop looks like it caters exclusively to women, some 20% of the stock is actually men’s wear.

“Kimono are becoming more and more popular again among young people,” explains Inoue. “Even people who have never worn kimono before want to wear one. Usually they have worn yukata (cotton summer kimono) before and that makes them want to try on kimono.”

The Gothic Lolita boom of the past few years has also re-ignited interest in this centuries old clothing, explains Inoue. “People wearing Gothic Lolita love kimono.” Additionally, many young people look at kimono differently. “They experience kimono almost like a masquerade. Like they’re dressing up for a costumed party.”

Inoue herself wears kimono daily for her work. “Without kimono, I feel like something is missing. Kimono have become an indispensable part of my life.”

Lace Overlay on Kimono Collar
The latest trend, a lace overlay on the collar
Kazari Heko Obi
Making kimono playful: a chiffon ribbon

This year saw many women wear a chiffon ribbon, called kazari heko obi over their usual obi. It makes the kimono look far more playful and removes the very formal image that most kimono hold in Japan.

To cater to this playfulness, Tokyo 135˚ has a large selection of kazari heko obi and also all kinds of fun accessories. Many surprise you, or make you smile. Like a skull obi pin for example (see photo below). Kimono are the last place where you’d expect a skull. It looks really cute, though. Another surprising accessory that has become extremely popular recently, is a lace overlay for the collar (see photo above).

For years, kimono rules felt like they were written in stone, but today’s youth loves to experiment and the result is the resurgence of a clothing item that many had about written off just a few years ago. Thanks to shops like Tokyo 135˚, there is a future for kimono again outside official ceremonies.

Location: Tokyo 135˚ is a short walk from Harajuku station. See map below.

Skull Obi Pin
Skull obi pin

Harajuku Store
Address: Maple Square 2F, 4-25-35 Jinguumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Phone: 03-3479-2767
Hours: 12:00-20:00
Closed: Second Tuesday Every Month

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