Editor’s Note: Gakiya’s Obi & Kimono Shop was originally reviewed on Okinawa Hai on march 19, 2010; you can read a PDF copy of that original review HERE. The post below is an updated take on this attraction, published April 20, 2016.
CONTRIBUTED BY KACEY A.
I recently had a friend introduce me to Rieko Gakiya – owner of Gakiya’s Kimono’s & Obi’s. I remembered seeing a post on Okinawa Hai on this, but I had never been to the shop. The article is great, but since it was written back in 2010, I thought it would be nice to post some updated information and share my experience.
I loved meeting Gakiya-san. She’s a lovely woman with great style, taste, and skill. She has good reason too, as a licensed and certified kimono dresser, she can fit, design, and outsource kimonos. While she doesn’t speak much English, she is more than willing to work with English speakers – it’s amazing how much you are able to communicate without words! There are so many textiles and designs to choose from, and it’s not hard to express what you’d like. Of course, you can always bring along a bi-lingual friend to help the process go a little quicker.
Her shop has been open since 2010 and has grown since then, even winning the Koza Choice Award – presented to shops and restaurants for exemplary service and products.
Not only was Gakiya shop written about on Okinawa Hai years ago, she’s been featured in dozens of local publications and even has sold Kimonos on the military bases in the past (no future dates known).
Her kimonos range in style from a rayon-blend material – which is much lighter weight and perfect for Okinawa summers, and also much more affordable; she also has more traditional style 100% silk kimonos for sale. Some kimonos are ready to sell, but she regularly does custom fits and designs. The most formal kimonos in her collection usually start at around ¥300,000 – however, for the foreseeable future, she’s selling them at ¥150,000. This could be why many people rent formal kimonos.
Her big sellers though, and the ones I wanted to share with you, are her decorative Obis! Obis are the thick sash/belt worn over a kimono… but can be used as so much more. She makes them herself out of new Obis or even antique ones (she’ll be clear with you on which are which).
Cotton Obi decorations start out at about ¥10,000. There are lots on display, but if you want something specific, she’ll custom make it for you in just a few days. Pick out your ‘bow’ design from the samples, pick out your fabric, and obijime (cord). Gakiya will help you every step of the way.
Obis can be used as a wall decoration or even a table or mantle decoration! You could even just buy an Obi to layout as a table runner! In addition to these kimono materials, she has lots of accessories such as socks and hair pins. She does have a small website, but you’ll find much better options and pricing if you visit in person.
Gakiya has just started a special as well for expats! With any purchase, you can try on an Okinawa style Kimono with accessories and take pictures (with your own camera). I did it, and it was totally fun!
Gakiya’s Obi & Kimono Shop
Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 19:00 (closed Sundays)
Payment: yen, dollars and credit card
Address: 〒904-0004 Okinawa-ken, Okinawa-shi, Chūō, 1 Chome−33−15
GPS Coordinates: 26.338053952036834, 127.80048432066269
Directions: Leaving Kadena Gate 2 stay straight. Before the Koza intersection, turn left at the big eyeball sign (Mayco), and go down several blocks. You’ll turn left again just before the parking lot/Hotto Motto that is before the stoplight at BC street. The shop is ahead on your left. I parked in that parking lot and walked the first time, but when I returned Kimmie invited me to park directly in front of the store instead.
I visited this shop recently and they were very nice! But I don’t recommend comic here to buy an actual kimono or obi. Although they are on the cheaper end of the price range of silk kimono and obi, it still costs quite a bit. The kimono I was eyeing up was around $400.00 and the obi was $300.00. But this by far much cheaper than the kimono I saw on mainland running at $5000.00 and no that’s not a typo. 5 grand for a kimono!
Luckily if you just want something to ham on your wall, they start around $60.00. I recently too I. Two obi I had purchased elsewhere to be tied Ito bows and for the both of them it cost $130.00. Not bad at all considering it comes with 3 fancy cords for each obi and a hanger for each. I like this store and hope to be purchasing that kimono and obi I saw soon!
Sara, it is Gate 2 of Kadena.
Foster gates are usually named by landmark, Spot gate, commisary gate, ect. Kadena has gates 1-5. Gate 2 is outside the USO on Kadena. You will figure them all out sooner than you think. (-:
We just arrived on the island, and of course, everyone back home wants a kimono, so I was glad to see this post! but it’s outside gate 2 of what base? Kadena? I know gate 5 foster to gate 1 kadena so far, and not much else!
Great write-up, Joelle!! I have always wondered about that store! It was on my way home from my daughter’s preschool (you know!). It is really a shame that I passed by there everyday, but I had never stepped inside! I am glad you got something for yourself as keepsake from Okinawa! Good luck on your preparations for PCS!
I have two Christmas Obis and I don’t regret purchasing them. Now I’m up to 6 including the Christmas obis that only come out during the holiday. I have two of my obis hanging on a wall and I switch them out after Thanksgiving with the Christmas ones. The Marine gift shop also carries obis and if you are up for an adventure and don’t mind your obis being used you can drive to Nago and check out Sachi’s collection at her antique store.
Wonderful post Joelle! Wish I had picked some of these up before I left.
How much do Obis cost?