The other day I was chatting with my friend and neighbor Mrs. A.

She was outside of her genkan sweeping the steps and I did the neighborly thing and said good morning to her.

We made small talk about the heat and such and then she mentioned that she had better get back to sorting thru all the boxes that were piled up in her home. Her mother in law died recently and they were cleaning out her house. She also mentioned that she had a pile of kimono that she sorted through and needed to bag them for the trash….

Trash? Kimono being …trashed?

Yes-she had more kimono than she could ever wear and had no space to store everything and unfortunately getting rid of things like that were difficult. Not many people buy used kimono or obi-the big wide “sash” that goes around the middle and is tied into a “bow” at the back.

There was nothing else to do with them but trash them.

My mind was whirring….I’ve wanted to get a collection of old kimono for sewing projects….should I ask her?

Casually I said….. if she needed help in getting rid of some of them….. I would be happy to help out with that.

Her face totally lit up!

She was delighted to dump them give them to me! Actually she was elated. I don’t blame her-I’ve had items in the past that I didn’t know what to do with and trashing them isn’t always so easy. We have strict trash regulations. Some items need to be hauled away for a fee.

Because I was so “kind” to help her with this problem she gave me a beautiful table cloth and two antique pouches that she found while sorting through everything.

You know what they say about one mans trash being another man’s treasure….

I was able to go through the pile and take what I liked. A couple of them have some slight stains on them but I want them for the material-not to wear.

So-here are a few of the treasures I garnered…..


These three are in perfect condition. I may keep them and see if I can get matching inner clothing for them. Kimono are never worn as is-there is a whole ensemble of inner wear that is worn under them. Yes-terribly cumbersome but so beautiful! I’m sure my mother-in-law has something that I could borrow if I wanted to wear one of them.

 (close-ups of the material)




The blue kimono above is also very pretty. It has a ring around the collar that I’m not sure will come out. Not sure if I’d wear this one but I do like the material and can think of several projects it may be nice for–although I’m not skilled at sewing this kind of material. I may hand sew the projects. I seem to do better at hand sewing than machine sewing!


This one is my favorite. It is actually one that I’d love to wear, I wonder if I can have it cleaned -there are a few stains on it that I hope come out.

I have wanted my own kimono for years but they are so terribly expensive! Once we went shopping for one-looking around is more like it. My husband always said he wanted to buy a nice kimono for me….that was when we had no idea that a “nice kimono” can cost as much as a small car! My sister-in-law spent 15,000 dollars (yes-fifteen thousand) on her daughter’s “coming of age” kimono.

My hopes of buying a “nice kimono” went out the window! But that’s ok-I will inherit some of my mother-in-law’s dozens of beautiful kimono. If I want to wear one for a special occasion I know that I can. She’s already taking out a few for me to choose from for the upcoming Obon holidays.

We missed Obon last year as we went to Saipan to help the kids recover from that horrific typhoon they had. This year I’m “dressing up” as we have a hatsubon to attend-meaning the first obon for a relative that has recently passed away.

Anyhow-I’m sure some of my “sewing buddies” in blogland will appreciate the photos here!

10 thoughts on “Kimono…trash?

  1. What a generous neighbor you have. Each one of those kimonos is a treasure. You have a good eye for picking out pretty prints. I agree that they are all beautiful.
    You can remake kimonos into sheaths or dresses or tunics or skirts. I have a book in Japanese describing how to take them apart and with patterns for various clothing. Keep your eye open for the discount book cart in your local supermarket and you might find one on sale.
    At the Gion Matsuri earlier this month, I ran across an NPO that remakes kimonos into today’s clothing, sells them (very reasonably, I might add), and uses the money to teach ladies in Bangladesh how to sew so they can earn money for their families. I saw a number of dresses I liked but they all seemed a bit small. When I joked to a clerk that I would love a dress but I am not “smart” (meaning “skinny” here), she giggled and said “yes, I couldn’t see any that might fit you.” Time to get back on the diet wagon… It also made me want to get out that book and try remaking some of the kimonos I have stored away into something my size!

  2. These are so pretty. And to have them available to make something new. You must make a card utilizing a piece of a kimono to thank your neighbor. Lucky day for you.

  3. I was thrilled to get these! And I had just not long before- gone to the farmer’s market ” flea market” and browsed the used kimono stand… I’m glad I didn’t buy any because most there were not even close to these!

  4. Dear Mrs. N, again I enjoyed this, smiling. My Italian Grandmother was a seamstress who made clothes for her daughters and doll-dresses for her granddaughters. She also had a box full of interesting buttons we loved to search through. A blessed day to you!

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