Kyotoya is a small Japanese boutique specializing in vintage and antique kimonos for men, women and children. Reiko Goto, proprietor of Kyotoya, travels to Kyoto each year, where she hand selects the kimonos for her store, which is located in the Flatiron district of New York City.
Kimonos are the traditional garments of Japan, worn less frequently by Japan's youth today. People from all over the world seek out these beautiful timeless garments to wear as house robes, jackets over pants, dresses, and for special occasions. In addition to the vintage kimonos, Kyotoya sells choice contemporary designs made of rayon and 100% cotton. This newer variety is more practical and easier to care for in modern society. There is also a limited quantity of designer kimonos available. Each is made from re-purposed vintage kimonos, styled in New York City. These kimonos are fashionably recycled so as not to waste any vintage kimono textile.
Vintage kimonos were made using special techniques that are no longer used today and were richly styled with hand-woven designs. Most of the vintage pieces in the shop are made from 100% silk with beautiful hand-painted designs and some with delicate embroidery and intricate detailing. Kyotoya's collection dates as far back as the turn-of-the-century up to the late 1970's. The color palates of vintage women's kimonos vary, some are light and feminine while others are more vibrant with strong floral designs. The fabric of a man's traditional kimono is a more muted, darker palate with deep jewel tones and bolder patterns like traditional dragon designs. Many of the men's kimonos are beautifully lined with detailed designs and interesting fabrics unseen in modern designs.
There is a nice assortment of textured kimono belts made from vintage kimono cloths and other Japanese fabrics. Belts are traditionally designed to be worn around the waist of a kimono, but can also be used as an elegant scarf or wall hanging. Kyotoya stocks numerous contemporary interpretations of traditional tabi, split-toe socks originally worn with kimonos. They are colloquially called flip-flop socks.
Authentic Japanese items are Kyotoya’s specialty. Goto shares the culture of Japan with her customers by explaining the origin and meaning behind the many beautiful items she sells. The shop carries a number of furoshiki - traditional Japanese wrapping cloths. The name is derived from the word “bath” in Japanese because these cloths were originally used to transport items to and from public baths. Today, furoshiki can still be used as a wrapping fabric to present gifts or for its original use of carrying items. Beautifully designed and crafted out of rayon and cotton, furoshiki can even be used for decorative purposes. Vintage kimono fabrics can also be purchased for a number of different uses.
There are many adorable Japanese treasures to be discovered in this charming boutique. We found precious Japanese good luck charms like good luck Itomari - made from the left over kimono threads. The Maneki-Neko fortune cat doll is one of Japan’s most renowned items, with his lifted paw he brings success to business and good fortune into homes.
Decorative Noh paper mache masks are also available, handmade in the likeness of traditional Japanese Noh theatre masks worn by entertainers and storytellers. The masks are lightweight and can be easily arranged on any wall. There is even a collection of exquisite vintage Japanese Dairi Bina and Imperial Couple dolls dating between the 1940’s and 1970’s. The dolls’ faces are meticulously hand-painted, each glazed with shell paint.
Other items available at Kyotoya include hand crafted traditional Japanese kites of different sizes, linen dividers, tatami mats for the home, hand stenciled rice paper, and an assortment of Japanese snacks and teas. If you’re searching for dinnerware, there is a unique selection of traditional as well as contemporary Japanese dishware available, including traditional tea sets, sushi plates, and sake sets.
In a day of mass production it is refreshing to find beautifully hand-made daily items. When you shop at Kyotoya, you catch a glimpse of authentic Japanese tradition and culture - a culture where art is not without soul and is celebrated each day through daily objects.
Written by George Morales | edited by Rebecca Benison