©Photo by Louise Kittaka

Feeling Like A Queen: A Mother-Daughter Day Out In Kimono

Dress Like A Queen To Feel Like A Queen

Spring is the perfect time to dress up in an authentic Japanese kimono! My princess and I felt like royalty during our recent day out.

I love kimono at any time of the year, but especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are popping. My daughter, Rei, is away at university overseas most of the year, but she was recently back in Japan for a short break. I wanted to do something special together on her last day at home, and so what could be better than a mother-daughter outing wearing kimono?

Our morning began at the Kimono Queen salon, located on the fourth floor of the Imperial Hotel Plaza. Just like the name suggests, the staff at Kimono Queen are dedicated to making every client feel like a queen (or a king) for the day.

Kimono Queen© Photo by Louise Kittaka

Fit for a Queen

The Kimono Queen owner is Toshie Takahashi, who was inspired by her late mother’s love of kimono to open her shop. “My mom collected kimono. Her last wish was to tell lots of people about the merits of high-quality kimono, regardless of their nationality,” she says. Now Toshie is working to make her mother’s dream a reality.

I’ve experienced dressing up in rental kimono aimed squarely at the tourist market, but Kimono Queen is different. Along with their international clients, they also cater to many Japanese customers who want to dress up for special occasions, and the beautiful kimono can be worn with pride to a Japanese wedding or formal party. 

Choosing our kimono

After being welcomed with chocolates and tea, it was time to look at the kimono. In keeping with the spring motif, Rei chose a yellow-hued kimono, while I went with coral. Getting dressed up in a formal kimono takes a little bit of time and patience, and Toshie holds her staff to a high standard of presentation. It’s all in the fine details, and each step of the process needs to be executed with precision in order to achieve the desired overall look.

Kimono Queen Mother-Daughter Day

Kimono Queen will also do your hair in a becoming style to suit both the kimono and your tastes. I opted for a simple yet elegant chignon, while Rei had a pretty braided updo that was perfect for a young woman. Hair accessories were added and then we stepped into zori (slippers) to complete the look. Toshie even has her own photo studio in the salon and we posed for some pictures at the end.

Around the palace—by rickshaw

Waiting outside was the next part of our adventure—a jinrikisha or rickshaw. Kimono Queen is the only kimono salon in the Ginza area to have its own rickshaw for the exclusive use of clients—and to add an extra element to the whole experience! Rei and I felt a bit like the Japanese equivalent of Cinderella, being whisked away to the ball. Since it was rather breezy that day, we were glad to be wearing the kimono coats which Toshie had thoughtfully provided for us. 

Kimono Queen is the only kimono salon in the Ginza area to have its own rickshaw for the exclusive use of clients

Our driver was Yutaka, a bilingual young man who spent several years in the USA as a child. Very fittingly for our royal day out, he took us around the nearby Imperial Palace. I’ve walked and run around the palace before but it was an entirely different experience to see it from a rickshaw.

A little royal history

Yukata shared his extensive knowledge of the history of the era. The Imperial Palace became home to the emperor in 1868, following the Meiji Restoration and the transfer of power from the Tokugawa shogunate back to the imperial family. Tokyo then became the official capital the same year. Before that, the site was known as Edo Castle, and the original building dates back to 1457. It passed through several hands until the powerful Tokugawa family took possession in the early 17th century and the castle became the base for the Tokugawa shogun (military rulers), during the Edo period (1603 to 1868).

Kimono Queen Mother-Daughter Day

Did you know that the grounds were once several times their current size? Back in the Edo period, the current site of Tokyo Station, the Marunouchi district and Kitoanomaru Park were all part of the castle!

The best of British x Japanese

Even royalty get hungry, and after Yutaka dropped us back at the Imperial Hotel, we headed up to the 17th floor for an afternoon tea at the Imperial Lounge Aqua. A British-style afternoon tea wearing Japanese kimono—why not? Combining two of my favorite traditions, I was definitely in my element. (For vegetarians and those with dietary issues: with a little advance notice, the Imperial Lounge Aqua will cheerfully substitute any items in the tea set that you can’t eat. In my case, this was the meat and fish in the sandwiches and canapes.)

A British-style afternoon tea wearing Japanese kimono—why not?

We took our time over tea, chatting as we gazed out at the view of Hibiya Park from the window. Truth be told, when wearing a kimono, you can’t eat quickly even if you wanted to! 

Some precious mother-daughter time

Feeling pleasantly full, we decided to walk off some of our indulgences at Hibiya Park. It was too early for cherry blossoms, but we found some picturesque spots for plenty of selfies, and the occasional two-shot when a kind passerby offered to take our photo.

Finally, it was time to head back to Kimono Queen to step out of our finery and back into everyday mode. Both Rei and I had thoroughly enjoyed a right royal day out. I was rather sad that I had to see Rei off at the airport the following day, but I had many lovely memories and photos to cherish. With spring here and Mother’s Day just around the corner, a day out in kimono could be the perfect way to celebrate for you and your princess, or with another special lady in your life!

Kimono Queen Mother-Daughter Day© Photo by Louise Kittaka

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