What To Wear In… Kyoto, Japan


What I loved about Japan, but maybe Kyoto in particular, was that people knew like no other know to combine their country’s history with modern times. It showed in their beautiful old fashioned decorated restaurants with contemporary dishes, gadgets shops next to temples and especially in their clothing.

Mixed Japanese fashion sense

When I think of Japanese people, I think of – besides couples in matching outfits – designer clothing. Anywhere in Asia, but Japan in particular, they love their brands. Especially young people seem to save up all their money to buy a Louis Vuiton bag or a pair of brand new sneakers. But at the same time, they can wear a traditional kimono when going for a stroll in the park…

Because of their love for the western (design) world, in Japanese clothing you will also see a lot of shirts, caps and other items with translated English texts printed on them (Also called ‘Engrish Texts’). And no, they usually don’t make sense. I’ve seen a “Strong Rain โ€“ The people who missed the weekend Monday”, “How about choosing popularity” and the legendary “My feeling is crummy in the color of milk white”. Errr, alright… ?

Another thing they really seem to like to wear in Japan are prints of cartoon characters. You can find Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Totoro, Domo Kun, Doraemon, Rilakkuma or Astro Boy on their shirts, bags, leggings: everywhere! And no, It’s not just worn by 6 years olds…

So you see there is a bit of a strange mix here. And when you see some of the teenagers wearing their Cosplay outfits (costumes that resemble characters from video games, comic books or anime TV-series) on the weekend, it gets even more confusing. When it comes to clothing in Japan, you can go all the way!


What to wear in Japan?

When putting together your Japanese outfit, there are some other things you must not forget:

  1. combine your cloths with nature inspired printed fabrics (butterflies, birds, flowers, etc.)
  2. carry a phone (they seem to use it 24/7)
  3. bring an umbrella (the sun is not liked that much by Japanese women. It’s a part of their culture’s history, as having a tan meant you worked on the land and were therefore of a lower class)

That’s my take on what to wear in Kyoto (and the rest of Japan): a very varied country with lots of modern outfits, but still with a strong and proud connection to their country’s past.


What is the best ‘Engrish’ printed t-shirt text you ever came across?



Planning a Trip to Japan? Here are some great resources:


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