Japan is famous for its ‘cosplay’ – costume play – or dressing up. Some people just don’t seem to feel themselves unless they’re dressed as a cartoon maid with a pink wig on. In Matsuyama, though, you can do cosplay in a good deal more style, thanks to a couple of shops that offer to dress you up in a kimono and let you toddle around in it all day.
One of these shops is a very stylish production, located in Dogo station. It’s called Kiru Kiru (Wear Wear). Don’t be put off by the closed door or the long flight of stairs – they’re very welcoming up on the second floor. The kimono salon has the same attractive period features as the station itself, with large windows and stylish moldings. There are gorgeous displays of kimonos antique and modern. For 5,250 yen, you can select something to your taste and wear it all day, whether for a photographic session, a party, or just a little cosplay around the town. The young ladies in Kiru Kiru speak some basic English, and they tell me that they have occasional foreign customers. They were very keen that I should try something on myself.
Another shop is in the process of moving from the trendy Ropeway Gai to the more central Yanaimachi close the Matsuyama Shieki Station. This is K’s Club, another welcoming establishment. I happened to pass by when they were holding a moving sale, and they kitted me out with a stylish yukata at a very good price (I’m not averse to a bit of cosplay myself). As I was trying on various options, a number of young ladies in kimono trooped in and offered suggestions as to length and pattern. The owner, K herself, happened to arrive at the time, and observed “We’re bustling today”, with that mixture of irony and fun often seen in older ladies in smart kimonos. K’s Club will dress you up for a very reasonable 3,000 yen. They are also glad to welcome foreign customers.
The services offered by both Kiru Kiru and K’s Club are priced to be accessible, so that anyone can enjoy wearing a kimono for a day. In the summer, a light and colorful yukata is recommended. The shops offer considerably more expensive options for weddings and other ‘major’ events. The staff in both establishments combine beautiful manners with a very engaging friendliness. Matsuyama people like traditional Japanese clothing, and they’re often seen in kimonos. At summer events, both men and women in yukata are a common sight. It’s just one of the charming aspects of Shikoku that tradition still exists comfortably with smartphones and hybrid cars. Kiru Kiru and K’s Club are there to help visitors to Matsuyama partake in a little tradition.