1. A Japanese woman wearing Kimono Introduction
    1.1 The Basic Elements of Kimono
    1.2 Kimono textile
    1.3 Kimono underwear
    1.4 Obi
    1.5 Wafuku Footwear
  2. History of Kimono
    2.1 Women's Accomplishment
    2.2 Kosode
    2.3 Iki
    2.4 Yofuku Marches in the Stage
  3. What Kimono Signifies
    3.1 Expressing Marital Status
    3.2 Things that Matter
    3.3 Geishas in Their Kimonos
    3.4 White Kimono of the Bride
    3.5 National Cloth
  4. Kimono of the People
    4.1 Worker's Cloth
    4.2 Segawa's Study
  5. Kimono Glossary

1. Introduction

Wafuku means traditional Japanese clothing. It is parallel term to yofuku (western clothing). Kimono is perhaps most unique wafuku. In the old times, both men and women used kimonos as everyday costume, but nowadays only women wear it in formal occasions. Men are seen wearing kimonos very rarely in Japan, only in their wedding or other traditional ceremony. Women can wear kimono in various occasions, starting from seijinshiki, to omiai, or traditional tea ceremony. Japanese kimono is most famous wafuku abroad. In new year's concert in Vienna, many Japanese women are seen wearing kimono.

Usually Japanese women own only one kimono, furisode, and that's what they got from their parents or relatives as a present for seijinshiki.

What truly creates kimono atmosphere? Is it the pattern of woman's obi or whiteness of her tabi? Or is it the way how her sleeves swing in the wind when young woman is going to temple to celebrate her seijinshiki? The spirit of the woman herself is eventually the thing that gives kimono it's beauty and character. Today's Japanese women wear jeans and sit legs crossed in train. Although there are kimono academies and new styles, it is hard to find a woman who would be thrilled about wearing kimono As Kondo Tomie said in (The feminine heart of dressing, 1985):

Kimono with a modern style obi"If you wear kimono yourself, it's obvious that the sleeves get in the way as soon as you do anything and that your steps are hindered by the narrow skirt. I suppose, too, that the soul of a woman who wears kimono is spiritually in a man's shadow as she walks behind him, suppressing any trace of her own ego. Since such women are rare these days, it's probably useless to hope to find anyone who truly loves to wear kimono."

What ultimately makes kimono, is the way to wear it, not the shininess of kimono fabric itself. I once saw a woman wearing kimono in a hurry, quickly wrapping her obi in simple man's style, and still her character was mostly Japanese, attractive and most kimono-like. As often heard from the experts, when worn correctly, kimono should bring no discomfort to woman. Some disagree though. For example, the fact is that woman cannot eat much when wearing obi. You simply cannot tie it so loose that it would allow woman to enjoy a satisfying meal. This has without a question affected growth of young women in old time who wore kimono through their youth in Japan. Following feminist statement, from a male writer says:

"The kimono has a criminal record. For hundreds of years, up until the twentieth century, the kimono has unilaterally insulted the female sex and caused women to suffer. It has prevented free expression and impeded natural growth. When women finally removed their kimono, they burst in the shackles of feudalism. But now the silky insinuating voice of kimono is heard again, seeking to confine women to the dim and cramped backstage of life. Who would say it's appeal is simply due to a feminine desire for elegance? We must expose kimono for the pernicious device it is. " - Clothing historian Murakami Nobuhiko, Agura o Kaku Musumetachi.

1.1 The Basic Elements of Kimono

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In the old times, kimono had more layers of cloth than nowadays. Court ladies were said to have up to sixteen layers of different coloured fabrics. Kimono is made of only four strips of fabric - two for main panels and two for sleeves. Thus the basic construction of kimono is rather simple. However, making a kimono consumes more cloth than you would realize - about 9 meters of 30 centimeter wide cloth.

It is interesting to realize that size does not matter in kimonos - they are made from rectangular pieces sewn together and itself have no shape at all. Your height doesn't matter either, cloth can be tucked under obi to measure your height. Most kimonos are standard size. Making kimono in traditional way is very economic - no kimono cloth is being wasted in the process. If some parts would be damaged, the kimono could be took apart for cleaning or to be reassembled to make haori.

Here are the basic elements of kimono:

basic elements of kimono

basic elements of kimono

1.2 Kimono Textile

Kimonos can be made of silk, wool, cotton, linen or synthetic material. One of the most famous kimono materials is tsumugi, especially one from Oshima. Different motifs decorate the textile. Some are sewn into the cloth, some are dyed. Here are examples. The last sample is Taisho era kimono which introduces modern design. Typical iki.

See the photos of the taisho era kimono here.

Kimono Textile 1
Kimono Textile 2Kimono Textile 3Kimono Textile 4
Kimono Textile 5

1.3 Kimono underwear

With formal kimono, it is common to wear two (or sometimes more) layers of traditional underwear. The first layers of underwear (against your skin) is called hadajuban. It protects kimono and second layers of cloth from sweat and provide warmth in winter. Sometimes padding is worn underneath the hadajuban.

Over hadajuban, nagajuban is worn. The purpose of nagajuban is to conceal the body shape and make kimono look smooth when worn, and add little bit softness to the look of kimono.

1.4 Obi

An important part is missing from images above which is obi, the belt or sash. It is usually tied just below the woman's three different obi stylesbosom. There are various obi that convey a different message, as discussed further.

The purpose of obi is not only keep the package together, but also to shape the woman's body so that the hip and breasts are not visible. If obi itself isn't enough to do this, sometimes a towel is added under obi. A cardboard or similar material is often added to smooth down the wrinkles of the obi to make it look more smooth and give it support.

The height of the obi varies regarding woman's age marital status. Obi is sometimes suggested to be a Japanese version of western corset, but this is incorrect since obi is not that tight and also, as we realized, purpose of obi is opposite from corset - to conceal feminine parts.

There are various different obi, with various motifs and patterns.

Maru obi is old bulky version which is almost never used today, except for bridal kimono. It is really thick and long and creates a lot of bulk around woman's waist. Maru obi is said to have one benefit, if you should stain it with soy sauce, you could turn it over and expose the other side.

Fukuro obi (pocket obi) is today's most formal obi and it is also the most practical one. It's lenth is same as maru obi but is slightly less than half the width of maru obi, thus much easier to tie. There is broad variety of fukuro obi in patterns and colours. In the picture above introduces some examples of fukuro obi. The styles (from the left) are kai, uzushio and ebi.

Nagoya obi is thin obi, created in fact in Nagoya city sometimes in 1920's. It is less formal than fukuro obi and can be used in less important occasions.

Chuya obi was one of the informal styles of obi, it was soft and covered with black satin. Unfortunately chuya obi and other informal obi styles have disappeared from today's Japan.

It is said that there are over 300 different ways to tie woman's obi. However there are two styles which are most popular. The taiko style, which is named after taiko-bashi, (traditional drum shaped bridge) resembles a horizontal cylider of a drum. Taiko style is most traditional and most used by married women. Fukura suzume (sparrow style) resembles a sparrow, and is mostly worn by unmarried women. However, obi is a world of subtle meanings and it is not entirely uncommon that unmarried women wear taiko or married women wear fukura suzume.

Obi scarf (obi-age) is a kimono accessory that is weared with obi. It's popular with taiko, but can be also worn with other style obis, such as fukurasuzume. It reflects woman's age. Obi scarfs are usually silk. Obi-cord (obi-jime) is the cord tied on top of obi, that look like narrow rope. Here are some photos of obi-jime, and materials to make obi-jime.

obi-jime, obi cordobi-jime. obi cord materials

Obidome is only jewelry weared with kimono, they are broochlike pieces that thread into the obi-cord. Other jewelry, gloves or neclaces are not used in with today's kimono.

Men's obi can be roughly split into two category, kaku or heko. Kaku obi is made of stiff cotton material and is about 9 centimeter wide. Heko obi is soft material, usually tye-dyed fabric.

Example of obi fabric:

obi textile

1.5 Wafuku Footwear

When wearing wafuku, special shoes and socks must be used. Tabi are the typical wafuku socks which align big toe to separate space, thus allowing usage of zori. Tabi are usually white. Although other colours and even patterned tabi are sometimes seen, white is the formal colour.

Japanese decorated zoriFlat-soled zori are the most formal Japanese footwear, used with kimono. They are usually made from rice straw or lacquered wood. There are various zori, with higher and lower platforms. Cloth covered zori are most formal, and there are ones with gold and silver brocades which naturally increase the formality. Sometimes zori's surface is made to resemble tatami.

Zori does not produce the clanking sound similar to geta, and can be used in hotel lobbies, department stores or restaurant without attracting too much attention. Zori is more comfortable than geta. Warazori is a special straw made zori that samurais used sometimes. The special feature of warazori was that it didn't splash. There was even special straw made zori for horses and cows.

When worn with wafuku, usually zori is used with white tabi.

Geta with high soles are less formal, and do not necessarely require tabi. They are usually are made of wood. Geta is most often worn with yukata. There are special snow geta with higher soles to prevent snow touching the socks. Also, geta doesn't seem to splash when walking in wet environment. Geta is less comfortable than zori sinze they are made from hard wood, which, obviously does not flex.

Geta making is an old Japanese practise. There are many old and famous geta shops in Japan, and prices vary. There are some very expensive geta, made of high quality wood that is dried following a special methods. Usually there is old man making geta in the shop, and he doesn't speak much. This kind of craftmanship is suffering difficulty because young people are not interested taking over the job. But getas are popular even among young people, so obviously there must be someone to pass the old knowledge to.

Wafuku footwear is also shaped by gender. Men's zori and geta have squarish corners while women's are rounded. Extra benefit of thonged Japanese footwear is that they are easy to slip off when entering a house or restaurant, plus they allow feet to breathe during humid summer in Japan.

2. History of Kimono

2.1 Women's Accomplishment

What is the original dress of the Japanese? It seems there is no such. Japanese prototypes of kimono, kosode, dates back to seventh century. What did people wear before this? It appears that there was influence from Chinese Han dynasty (approx. 200 B.C. -A.D 200) . Afterall the model of civilization in Japan was provided by Chinese, during the glorious days of the Sui and Tang dynasties. There is no way of telling for sure, but researchers today believe that leaders in Japan got influence from aristocrats in China during the fourth century. That period's clothing, art, and hairstyles all seem to match with courtly styles of Sui and Tang dynasties.

It is interesting to realize that it was the women who did the work of adaptating the Chinese influence and developing kimono toward's it's present form, men wanted to stick with the original Chinese form. Also, the hakama was developed from it's Chinese ancestor.

Already in early Heian period, clothing reflected marital status of a woman. Also, much like in today's Japan, people made clear cut difference with private clothes and what can be used in public. Like in China, imperial colours could not be weared without special permission or high enough rank.

2.2 Kosode

kosode styleShort sleeved kosode dates back to mid-Heian period. Kosode means literally "small sleeve". This type of ancient kimono was weared as everyday attire by both men and women in the old times. In Kamakura and Muromachi period, samurai class started to rule, which developed clothing more simple. Kosode became overgarment, and new type of kimono was developed. Muromachi period kosodes were truly simple, most of them included only single motif.

Momoyama period developed kosode further, introducing tie-dyed kosode, and techniques such as embroidery and surihaku (metallic leaf). Textiles were also painted with free hand. Momoyama era kosode has elaborate motifs and composition which creates artistic expression. However, there were strict rules for placement of the motifs, Momoyama period kosodes included only decorations in hem and shoulder, like the katasuso, while rest of the kosode was left free of decoration. Momoyama period kosodes had typically floral, animal, plant or scenery motifs.

Early Edo period introduced category of kosode known as Keicho kosode. It's fashioned mainly from black, white, or red figured satin. Keicho kosode was decorated with metallic leaf (surihaku). Kosodes in early Edo period also introduced the different material, satin, instead of nerinuki (plain-weave silk fabric). Also it is interesting to realize how Keicho kosode had first time in history, stunning three-dimensional decoration.

Kosode also had a function of underwear. Men and women in court used it as a first layer of cloth. It is interesting to notice that kosode is unisex. There are no significant differences between kosodes weared by men or women. It deserves to be noted how durable and practical kosode was, actual kosodes have survived from the Heian period (795-1192).

Kosode became also cloth of the samurai. When dressing formally, they worse two piece cloth called kamishimo on top of their kosode. Upper part is a stiffened fabric called kataginu. Figure below shows this. Kataginu's wide shoulder's purpose appears to be to project image of authority.

2.3 Iki

When thinking about history of kimono, one should dig deeper into term called iki, which one meaning is suggested to be a high connoisseurship. Darker, stylistic values of Edo era replaced the old, more straightforward thinking. Iki is ironic, subtle, and never direct. People felt first need to protect themselves "against cold wind of the society". Which is very interesting, since iki suggested for first time in Japan that woman could be chic and cool. Could this have been a first step of Japanese woman's independence in Japan?

Iki has it's roots deep in Japanese aesthetic and social values. It is said that if iki must be explained, it's destroyed. It's an invisible aura of stylishness.

2.4 Yofuku Marches In the Stage

It was the yofuku, western clothingthat finally changed everything. Until it's arrival, kimono and it's variations had no competition. Old paintings show interesting images from this time, end of 18th century, men wearing their kosodes and western hat. It's said that Duke of Edinburgh was the one who's visit in Japan changed everything. He was received by imperial court gentlemen in their shirts and pants and shallowtail coats first time in history. Military personnel, police and post men also started to use Western style uniforms in dawn of Meiji period.

Soon kimono became mostly women's wear in Japan.

3. What Kimono Signifies

In Japan kimonos are present through all stages of life. Young children are dressed up in colourful children's kimonos, women are dressed in pure white wedding dress when getting married and corpses are dressed up in kimono which is folded right over left. Kimonos are also weared in several traditional Japanese occasions, omatsuri and Japanese women often wear kimono when going to hatsumode in New Year.

One purpose of kimono has been to convey information, such as personality or age, or marital status of the wearer. Choice of the fabric, colour pattern and form are all tools for conveying this information. Everything in kimono symbolizes something. For example, younger the woman is, more higher the pattern reach in the hem of the kimono.

3.1 Expressing Marital Status

Usually, young unmarried women wear furisode (swinging sleeve), a kimono with long sleeves and complex patterns reaching up the obi. Married women wear tomesode (truncated sleeve), kimono with short sleeves and less patterns. In present though, women sometimes wear furisode in their 20's regardless they are married or not. This seems sensitive and complicated thing, in which also personal differences count. Some say that they can't imagine wearing furisode after seijinshiki, and some few years younger than thirty still wear it like never before. It seems though that thirty years age is the milestone for woman between furisode and tomesode.

Common rule used to be that younger the wearer, the higher the pattern reach from the hem. Following image demonstrates the sleeve length in traditional system:

Kimono sleeve length variations

Similarly, the way how front overlap and collar is set symbols the marital status. Kimono collar is usually made so that it exposes nape of woman's neck, which is erotic symbol in Japan. It may sound paradoxal that married woman expose sometimes more neck than young unmarried woman, who is supposed to be decent. Collar should never be set so that it lines flat against the nape of the neck. This is perhaps most fundamental mistake and would destroy the entire shape of kimono.

The bosom side is less crucial but it can also be said to symbol the marital status. Unmarried women usually wear their kimonos so that V-shape is wide, not reaching so far down. Older married women (with some status!) would have deeper V. It is important to realize that we are talking about differences of a few centimeters here.

Also the obi styles have variation relating to the marital status of the wearer - unmarried girl wears her obi scarf exposed more, when married woman wears darker obi-scarfs tucked deeper. Older women wear darker obi scarfs. The obi itself has more variety for unmarried women, such as complex turtle shapes to origami or butterfly. Married woman would wear less fancy obi, perhaps taiko-style.

It is said that young women in their furisodes, their obis tied like a gift package, sleeves swinging in the wind, tempts the male in omiai to unwrap the package and accept the gift. :)

The black tomesode is called kurotomesode. Married women wear it for most formal occasions, such as their children's weddings, funeral and so. With kurotomesode, white obi-age and obi-jime is used.

Homongi which literally means visiting wear, can be worn by married and unmarried women. Homongi is less formal than tomesode. It is worn in informal parties, tea gatherings, flower exhibitions, New Year's parties or weddings of friends. Parents sometimes give homongi to their daughter when she is getting married, this will be her second kimono. Homongi have patterns in hem that continue from front to back, accross the side seams. The patterns could for example illustrate crysanthemums, peonies or cherry blossoms. In mid 19th century, young women wore chuburisode homongi, which sleeves were medium length.

Tsukesage and iromuji are semiformal kimonos that can be worn in various smaller parties and informal events - or even shopping. Depending on their colour and pattern, they can be however a possible alternative to homongi in regards of formality.

3.2 Things That Matter

When choosing and wearing kimono, one must take a several things to account. This is often the reason why modern Japanese women don't feel comfortable to wear kimono, since they are worried of breaking the multidimensional kimono etiquette. Several things matter:

Man wearing woman's kimono is considered quite strange in Japan, and people usually think it's expression of cross dressing or perhaps he is an actor of a play, playing woman's role.

3.3 Geishas In Their Kimonos

Geisha apprentice, maiko, in Kyoto Geisha cannot be geisha without her kimono. Thus kimono is the thing that keeps geisha most occupied in her daily duties. Big part of geisha's training is particularly kimono, how to care of it, how to replace broken or stained parts, and most importantly how to wear it. Geishas can be said to be professional of kimono, afterall they are only women in Japan who wear kimono everyday. Big part of geisha's attraction is the way how they use their kimonos with ease. Their expression is cheerfull and light and they are not least bothered by kimono - it is natural part of them. Their walking is adjusted to it so that the hem of their kimonos does not flap, when they sit down they naturally remember to care of their obi sitting only on the edge of the chair. And they look perfectly comfortable.

Geisha have special formal, trailing kimono, de which means "going out". It exposes the nape of her neck deeply. Only geisha can wear kimono like this. Also geishas wear heavy and distinctive white makeup and a wig that is often decorated. In the old times, geishas didn't wear wig but had their actual hair oiled and prepared to shape like that. It was very hard to make, thus when they slept, they had to use special hard support to hold their head to prevent their hair to mess up.

However, geisha wears her de only for formal occasions. In their daily work, they use normal, non trailing kimono. It is striking that this kimono isn't usually so very different what ordinary Japanese woman might wear. What makes the difference is the way how geisha wears it. She has a good bearing and her walking is elaborate, well trained. Most importantly - she is cozy in her kimono and she is one with it. It seems like the kimono is her second skin, as if she had it when she was born.

The way how geisha wears her taiko is different to ordinary woman. It is tied down in their waists, perhaps because the neck is so exposed, it creates better balance. Geishas wear their kimonos usually so that their under kimonos are slightly exposed in the front.

Geisha apprentice, maiko (in picture right), wears distinctive red underkimono. Maikos can still be seen in Gion, old geisha town of Kyoto.

3.4 White Kimono Of the Bride

Japanese Bride in kimonoJapanese wedding kimono is called shiromuku. Shiro means white and maku means pure. Shiromuku is for the wedding ceremony itself and colourful uchikake is worn in the wedding reception. Uchikake is spectacular long coat worn over shiro-muku. It has often beautiful decorations of cranes, flowers or pines. Red is most popular colour of uchikake, but there are also colours such as sea green or imperial purple. Uchikake is sometimes so heavy that bride needs help walking.

If the woman is marrying second time, she sometimes wears blue kimono.

It takes at least three hours to dress up woman in bridal kimono. There are experts that dress up women in their kimonos, do their makeup and fit their wigs.

The bride's wig, katsura, is usually style called bunkin-takashimada, and decorated with golden accessories and decorations that resemble a spike, symboling fertility. This wig is usually fitted in the place of the wedding, since it cannot fit in the car if weared.

Right is one example of wedding kimono worn by the bride.

(Read an essay related to Japanese Wedding Kimono)

3.5 National Cloth

One might say "kimono o kiru" (I'm going to wear a kimono) only when the choices are Japanese and western cloth. It is interesting since it suggests that kimono is referred as a national cloth in this manner. It's hard to escape it - kimono is a feminine symbol in present Japanese society. When someone says word "kimono" first it brings an image of a Japanese woman, wearing colourful furisode, it's sleeves swinging in the wind. Afterall women were the ones that developed it as we discovered earlier.

It is important to realize that clothing was important part of cultural system in Japan. When seeing a woman passing on street, one could tell her age, marital and financial status, and a bit of her personality just by looking at her kimono. Japanese have always preferred clear wanted to have clear cut ranking system. Kimono was important part of this. In today's Japan, this is changing though. For example, it's not uncommon to see young married woman wearing furisode.

As discussed later, wearing kimono is a form of self representation, portraiting oneself to others in desirable format. If one wants to express her wealth or status she will wear expensive looking kimono with a lot of gold patterns, with deep V pattern on front size. If woman wants to highlight her sexuality, she will wear kimono which generously exposes nape of her neck.

There are dedicated kimono academies in Japan which became popular in 60's. Kimono academies teach traditional flower arragement, ikebana, traditional sewing, tea ceremony and how to wear kimono. Kimono academies restored the knowledge of kimono to young generation.

4. Kimono of the People

4.1 Worker's Cloth

Japanese peasant womanThere is another kind of wafuku in Japan that has strongly influenced design of today's kimono. It's the ordinary Japanese farmer's kimono. Naturally, kimono waspresent in their lives too, and there were many different versions made to fill the needs of the workers. In fact, kimono suited such hard work conditions rather well. It could be took apart and worn out pieces could be replaced or swapped. When there was no replacement piece around, the worn out piece was swapped from shoulder to hem, or from front to back. It is still possible to cycle the kimono pieces - since as discussed above, kimono does not have shape.

Working women wore kimono shaped robes and set of trousers to allow free movement and provide warmth for legs.

Extra layer of jackets were added when needed, which were called hanten, the folk version of aristorcat's haori. Maekake was a special apron which provided protection for clothing when working outside.

Interesting addition to this folkwear were jika-tabi, which came to Japan around the turn of the century. Jika-tabi were something between traditional Japanese tabi, field sneaker and rubber boot! Just like tabi, it had separate space for big toe. It was made from rubber, thus fully waterproof. It was kind of a rubber tabi. Before rubber was imported to Japan, straw sandals were used. Jika-tabi brought a lot of comfort for Japanese field workers. Tasuki, special looped cord was used while working to keep sleeves out of the way. Hand protectors, tekko and tebukuro were also used. Today's festival attire, tenugui, was used to keep sweat falling to eyes during hot season.

4.2 Segawa's Study

Here it is important to mention ethnologist called Kiyoko Segawa, who did extensive study of folkwear in early 30's century. She travelled through the country and interviewed local women about their traditional wear. Segawa was student of famous ethnologist Yanagita Kunio. Segawa published her own work in 1946, in a small newsprint volume, simply called Kimono. Segawa is also famous of her book about ama, traditional Japanese woman diver.

Despite her hard work and efforts to preserve traditional wafuku, this form of folkwear became extinct. Already at that time, most wafuku research organizations didn't accept two piece dress under term wafuku. Kimono was started to view as a highclass cloth, two-piece wafuku as low class. Farmer's cloth was no longer accepted as "Japanese cloth" but became foreign. Sometimes during early century, it was decided with aristocrats and government members that "kimono cannot have two pieces" and traditional folkwear became forgotten cloth soon. The cloth of the people was no longer accepted. Sadly, a little knowledge is available of ethnologist Segawa and her works in internet.

5. Kimono Glossary

In alpabetical order:

agekubi round collar
bunkin-takashimada style of bride's wig
chuburisode homongi medium-length sleeved homongi
chuya obi now disappeared, old less formal obi
de geisha's formal long sleeve kimono. Literally "going out".
eri neckband
fukura suzume sparrow style obi
fukuro obi (aka. pocket obi) today's most formal obi
furi sleeve below an armhole
furisode special kimono weared mostly by young unmarried women. Furi means swinging and sode means sleeve.
geisha traditional Japanese entertainer. Literally "cultivated person"
geta less formal footwear used with kimono or yukata
hadajuban first layer of kimono underwear "next the skin"
hanten jacket worn over kimono, folk version of aristocrat's haori
haori formal jacket worn over kimono
hatsumode Japanese event in New Year
heko obi men's obi, made of soft tie-dyed material
homongi semiformal kimono for tea gatherings, informal parties etc. Literally "visiting wear".
iki aesthetic trend in Edo era, high connoisseurship
iromuji semiformal kimono for small parties
jika-tabi special rubber tabi that could be used as a shoe. worn sometimes by rickshaw pullers.
kaku obi men's obi, made of hard cotton
kamishimo garment worn on top of kosode by samurais or local authorities
kataginu top part of kamishimo garment
katasuso special Momoyama era kosode
kimono o kiru "I'm going to wear kimono" only when meaning choosing Japanese cloth instead of western.
kosode special precessor if kimono, literally means "small sleeve"
kurotomesode very formal, black tomesode kimono
mae migoro front main panel (of kimono)
maekake apron that protects kimono
maiko geisha apprentice.
maru obi old bulky version of obi
mihaba body (of kimono)
miyatsukuchi opening under the sleeve
nagajuban second layer of kimono underwear
Nagoya obi thin, less formal obi
nerinuki plain-weave silk fabric
obi belt or sash of kimono
obi age obi scarf used with taiko obi
obi dome jewelry weared with kimono, in obi cord
omatsuri traditional Japanese festival
seijinshiki ceremony that takes place in the year when woman turns 21.
shiromuku japanese wedding kimono. Literally "white and pure".
sode sleeve
sodetsuke arm hole
surihaku metallic leaf
suso mawashi lower lining
tabi white or black socks weared with kimono, which has separate space for big toe.
taiko style special obi style (looks like a drum) which is usually used by married women.
tasuki looped string which was weared to keep kimono sleeves off the way
tebukuro hand protector
tekko hand protector
tenugui special cloth wrapped around the head, prevent dust getting in to hair or sweat getting into eyes
tomesode special kimono worn mostly by older, married women.
tomoeri outer collar
tsukesage semiformal kimono for small parties
uchikake special kimono overcoat used in conjunction with Japanese wedding kimono, shiro-maku.
uchikake often colourful overgarment for wedding kimono, worn when in wedding reception
uraeri inner band
ushiro migoro back main section
wafuku uniquely Japanese clothing
yofuku foreign clothing
yuki sleeve length
zori formal footwear used with kimono


la verdad que esta muy bueno porque como yo tenia que hacer una dramatisacion de japon en ingles entonces la verdad que me sirvio mucho esta pagina muchas gracias por hacer posible la navegacion por google:-D
#1 - skdi - 05/27/2008 - 09:12
I loves Kimono. :-D
#2 - Karen lau - 07/24/2008 - 14:59
I love Kimonos, I whish to make and wear them one day ;-)
#3 - Lulu - 07/27/2008 - 13:59
klmonoga kireidesneee
#4 - buyanaa - 08/17/2008 - 04:48
Great article :-) I love kimono! They are beautiful, fun to make and comfortable to wear too.
#5 - S.B. - 09/14/2008 - 22:08
I went kimono:-(
#6 - meme - 09/18/2008 - 08:34
Magnifico! Wonderful!
Thnaks for all this wonderful information ´bout kimonos, I enjoy it an it´s going to be very useful for me this days because I want to make one but not with textiles, I just want to use other materials and see wath happen. Just for fun!

#7 - Lubianka - 10/03/2008 - 21:32
Beautiful article that helped me understand details of kimono history - Thanks !:-D
#8 - Bonnie Burns - 12/12/2008 - 10:12
kireina kimono desu
Hermosísimo los kimonos, he aprendido mucho y me sirvieron de modelo para mis washi ningyo.
Domo arigatoo gozaimasu
#9 - sachiko - 12/25/2008 - 09:00
What a fantastic article! I thought that I knew quite a bit about kimono but for the most part ignored formality and rank - now I know more. Thank you :D
#10 - kyasarin maaru - 12/30/2008 - 18:33
What is the appropriate name for the box looking item that is worn in the middle of the back.
#11 - Dennis Westberg - 01/03/2009 - 16:23
I think you're talking about the obi, tied in the taiko musubi style.

Thanks for all the info. I LOVE kimono!!!
#12 - Doubleopoo - 02/17/2009 - 04:12
I read somewhere that in the past it was customary for men to give women they court a Kimono. Is this true? Does a giving a woman a Kimono signify something?
#13 - Lila Natalia - 03/08/2009 - 17:54
Thanks for your great article. It realy helped me to know more details about kimono, which (I hope) will be usefull for my project at school.It inspired me to know kimono art better.
#14 - Akvile - 03/13/2009 - 17:02
;-)thankyou for the info. it really helped me a lot. i am actually fond of reading articles about japanese culture .
#15 - charmeine - 07/13/2009 - 04:04
The art of wearing kimono (wafuku) is called kitsuke. Therefore, kitsuke school is where we learn how to dress! I want to go to kitsuke school!
#16 - mel - 08/02/2009 - 19:43
Thanks for this interesting and informative article. I know so much more about kimono now!
#17 - Marci - 08/11/2009 - 10:21
i like kimono
i like kimono. those who wear it look so beautiful, soft and respectfull.

#18 - laila ismail - 09/05/2009 - 20:47
awsome kimonos
i love kimonos there beautiful ;-):-D:-)
#19 - slovebellez - 09/10/2009 - 20:56
i love kimono
i have a adopted mom that is a kimono maker she has made me a yukata and i love wearing it B-)
#20 - joe nightwalker ` - 10/08/2009 - 07:54
quero sair de kimono na rua
eu amo kimonos, e tenho várias amigas que tbem querem sair de kimono na rua, vamos marcar uma data para fazer isso aguardem!...
#21 - marcia vaz - 10/21/2009 - 20:28
thanks very informative!
#22 - tae - 12/15/2009 - 16:49
Thanks for the step-by-step instruction this is what I needed as I am writing a story, and I want to make it as realistic as possible. Thanks for making this info available. ;-)
#23 - SilenceBerry - 12/21/2009 - 11:01
Amazing website
:-D This is just great, and super informative. I am writing an in-depth paper for school on how Eastern clothing, particularly the shape of the kimono affected Western Culture, but this requires research, and this was so so helpful.
#24 - Julie - 12/24/2009 - 15:34
i want a kimono
#25 - aeisha - 01/15/2010 - 14:53
Ciao from Italy
#26 - Gatto999 - 01/19/2010 - 07:10
my kimonos
for formal day at my school i always go kimono all out, everyone even those who dont know what a kimono is love it , mine is a swinging sleeve black fabric with cranes or peacocks and plum or peony flowers on it , and i wear my flip flops that are like 3 inches high with it , its so perfect even the obi matches it^^ the past is always better isnt it ? haha and holloween i wear this cheap geisha costume kimono but i embelish it and i sometime walk around with it on . you bet heads turn :-P
#27 - monique - 03/28/2010 - 16:17
Duchess of the Internet
Thank you for the very thorough explanations of the clothing of Japan. I find myself reading more than I had planned while doing my research. Your information regarding each special piece of the garments is most interesting and for a westerner, very impressive. Thank you for your consideration to those of us who are unfamiliar with the customs of Japan.
#28 - D'Rae St. - 04/29/2010 - 12:09
Thank you so much. It help my homework.
#29 - korea~ - 04/30/2010 - 02:17
아 배고프다. 외국 사이트에서 한국말도 쓸 수 있나?
(i'm hungry. and talk korean at other country web site?)
#30 - ㅇㅅㅇ - 04/30/2010 - 02:20
Hey! gooday! thx 4 the information, this site really helps me and guide me. Kimonos are so great.
#31 - Angela - 06/30/2010 - 02:19
I love Kimono
#32 - Norma Hayo - 11/17/2010 - 19:57
:-(,sorry actually i wanna learn how to make kimono with someone who knew all about kimono, i love if to the point practical how make a kimono, but thank U for all information, and i will try....
#33 - kameliabalqis - 12/29/2010 - 06:43
this was a really great page
#34 - cassi - 02/08/2011 - 17:22
domo arigato
#35 - bushikendokan - 02/27/2011 - 12:05
sorry when i was lookin up for what they would wear when woman got married and this poped up and didnt even mention anythingg about what they would wear during marriage:-(
#36 - monique - 06/02/2011 - 21:02
where can i get a kimono?:-)
#37 - emilyrose - 07/20/2011 - 21:35
Hi I was wondering if there was a service out there where you can have a custom made kimono made?
#38 - Kimono - 08/08/2011 - 05:46
:-),Thank you for helping me because I needed to draw a kimono and label all the little parts for a assighment!
#39 - Blueberry - 08/24/2011 - 02:28
Wow, great stuff...
:-D I was soo excited when i read through this; thorough information and nicely presented!! good job xx
#40 - Sarah - 11/04/2011 - 05:52
Minh can tai lieu thiet ke Kimono lam! ma kho tim wa ah! Ban nap co giup minh nhe
#41 - tranvinhtktt - 06/07/2012 - 08:26
I would be the person who woudl wear oen every day they are confy to wear i wore oen all day i figered hwo to climb stairs in them i got put in one at a convetion it was wonderful i felt so pertty and got tons of complments
#42 - Anastacia - 07/08/2012 - 00:12
Front Facing Obi
My mother had made several dolls while living in Japan for 6 years. She has one doll that has an obi in the front. I was told that she was a special doll. They were dressed for nobility and such, but I don't remember the name she is called.

3 of my mothers dolls were displayed in Kenti Castle in Iwakuni, Japan. I believe my brother has the scroll that was presented to my mother. I took a picture of it but can't find it at the moment.

I like your web site. It is very informative. I still have my kimono from the 60's when I was little girl. I remember the stiff cardboard on my stomach which I didn't like as a child.

Any help would be appreciate. Thank you!
#43 - Lorraine - 11/19/2012 - 11:07
I love Kimono..
#44 - pinki - 01/13/2013 - 12:38
I was given a roll of silk from my nephew's mother-in-law when I was in Japan last year and would like to make a kimono with it. I have read a lot of articles online and somewhere along the line I saw something about how to sew the center back pieces together and now I can't find it. Can you describe how it is done? Thank you.
#45 - Liz - 03/04/2013 - 11:30
E-mail (Will not appear online)
;-) :-) :-D :-( :-o >-( B-) :oops: :-[] :-P

Japanese clothes | See also: wedding kimono, yukata, kimono, Taisho-era kimono, Jimbei, hankachi, Japanese bra

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