If you see a beautiful woman wearing a kimono on the streets of Kyoto, chances are they are a tourist, not a Geisha.
The city of Kyoto, Japan is promoting traditional arts in a variety of ways, including an innovative program to encourage people to dress in kimonos.
The Kyoto Kimono Passportoffers discounts or small gifts to people wearing kimonos at dozens of restaurants, shops, and museums.
At certain times of the year, you can even get free bus and subway rides and reduced taxi fares!
If you love to dress up, this may be the deal for you!
Kimonos and the necessary accessories are available to rent at lots of places in Kyoto. For an extra fee, you can get your hair styled.
With the Kimono Passport in hand, if your outfit becomes disheveled, there are a number of places that will help reassemble your kimono free of charge.
Benefits of the Kyoto Kimono Passport
A list of all of the discounts available with the Kyoto Kimono Passport is available online. The many dozens of places where small discounts or gifts are offered include:
Temples and shrines
Restaurants and cafes
The small gifts might include something like a free postcard, or a hair ornament to go with your kimono rental, or 100 Yen off a museum admission.
The more valuable savings are probably the restaurant discounts. A huge number of commercial establishments in the Kyoto Station participate in the Passport Program.
Your best bet may be the restaurants in the Isetan department store in the train station, which offer ten percent off to patrons wearing kimonos. The Isetan store has a large variety of restaurants in different price ranges, including nine casual ramen shops.
How to Access the Kyoto Kimono Passport
The easiest place for tourists to pick up the passport booklet is in Kyoto Station at the Tourist Information Center.
Alternately, you can just print out a passport card online.
There is also a smart phone app available in the Japan app store.
This year’s Kyoto Kimono Passport is valid from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016. Some discounts may have a limited validity period, so be sure to check the details of each offer. For instance, the discounts at temples and shrines are only valid during the Autumn months.