The word "kimono" (着物) means "something to wear" (着る, "to wear"; 物, "thing) and refers to the national clothing of Japan.
The word "wafuku" (和服) has the same meaning as "kimono", but "wafuku" is a retronym created to differentiate Japanese clothing from western clothing at the end of the Edo period when western clothes were introduced to Japan.
Kimono are worn over a thin undershirt called a "nagajuban" (長襦袢) and a "hadajuban" (肌襦袢) and fastened with an obi (帯).
"Tabi" (足袋) or "zori" (草履) are worn on the feet. In addition, they are also coordinated with Obijime (帯締め, decorative strings), Obiage (obi scarf), bags, hair ornaments, and more.
Kimono and obi have different ranks, and it is important to choose the right one for each occasion.
However, some people now wear kimono casually and enjoy remaking antique kimono. There are even denim kimono available for purchase.
In addition to Japanese kimono accessories, there are also western-style bags and shoes to coordinate kimono with.
Kimono are different from western style clothing in that they are not divided into different sizes.
Kimono are sewn in linear fashion and adjusted to fit the curves of one's body.
The length is also adjusted with an "ohashori" (お端折り).
Therefore, it is difficult to wear a kimono if you don't know how to do so properly.
There are kimono rental shops or hair salons that have kimono dressers who can dress you in a kimono, and there are also services to dress you in a kimono.
In addition to dressing up, it is also common to have your hair styled to match the kimono.
The History of Kimono
Kimono have such a long history that something resembling a kimono has already been found in artifacts from the Kofun period.
Over time, kimono changed, with the aristocracy and the upper classes wearing luxurious kimono, while the common people began to wear simple kimono that were easy to move around in.
During the Edo period, kimono were worn close to the modern image of the kimono as introduced in kabuki and ukiyo-e paintings.
Furisode, often worn at weddings, were also born around this time.
From the Meiji period onwards, the use of western style clothing increased.
Starting around 1960, the ratio of western-style clothing became higher and higher, and the number of people who wore kimono on a daily basis decreased. Kimono became something that were worn for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and ceremonial occasions.
Nowadays, more and more people only wear kimonos for formal occasions such as coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, and for events such as Shichi-Go-San, university entrance ceremonies, and graduation ceremonies.
There are jobs where kimono are worn as well.
For example, people engaged in traditional arts such as Noh theater, kabuki, rakugo, flower arrangement, tea ceremony and buyo, as well as Buddhist priests, Shinto priests, miko, geisha, maiko, and sumo wrestlers are all professions that involve wearing a kimono.
Types of Kimono for Different Occasions
There are two types of kimono: formal and casual.
Therefore, it is necessary to choose a kimono that suits the occasion.
◆Types of Kimono and Dress Code◆
・Kuro Tomesode (黒留袖)
A black kimono with no pattern on the upper body and a pattern on the lower half of the body.
This kimono has a family crest on 5 places on the body and is the most prestigious kimono for a married woman to wear.
For the obi, a pouch obi should be worn.
This type of kimono is often worn by relatives at weddings and other occasions. Mourning clothes are also included in this category.
・Iro Tomesode (色留袖)
A colored kimono with no pattern on the upper half of the body and a pattern on the lower half of the body.
The rank of the kimono varies according to the number of crests.
A pouch obi is also worn for this type of tomesode.
This kimono is worn by unmarried women and is often worn by relatives at weddings.
A gorgeous kimono with long sleeves.
It is the most prestigious kimono for unmarried women.
The obi is usually a fully-patterned pouch obi that can be tied in different knots.
It is often worn at coming-of-age ceremonies and weddings.
A kimono with patterns on the chest, shoulders, sleeves and lower half.
This can be worn to parties and other glamorous occasions.
Worn with a pouch obi
The pattern is more modest than that of a homongi.
The obi is either a pouch obi or a Nagoya obi.
Can be worn to parties and other occasions.
A kimono dyed in a plain color.
If it has a crest, you can wear it to the wedding of someone you know or to an entrance ceremony.
If there is no crest, it can be used as a fashionable piece of clothing.
The obi should be a pouch obi or a Nagoya obi.
A kimono with fine patterns across the entire body.
Can be worn as everyday clothing, for shopping, or for dinner with friends.
The obi should be either a Nagoya obi or a half-width obi.
・Pongee Kimono (紬)
A kimono woven by dyeing the thread first. Stripes and plaid patterns are common.
Used as everyday clothing and fashionable clothing.
The obi should be a Nagoya obi or a half-width obi.
A kimono made of cotton that is worn in the summer.
Worn with a half-width obi or a summer-style Nagoya obi.
Can be worn at home to relax, and is often worn at fireworks displays and summer festivals.
・Men's Kimono (男性用の着物)
Kuro montsuki, haori, and hakama are the most formal.
Everyday clothing includes iromuji, yukata, samue, jinbei, tanzen, happi, etc.
Different Types of Obi
There are different types of kimono obi, and each has its own character.
The color and pattern of an obi are to be coordinated with the kimono. Thinking about the combination of kimono and obi is part of the enjoyment of wearing a kimono.
・Pouch Obi (袋帯): Obi worn with formal kimono, characterized by gorgeous weaving
・Nagoya Obi (名古屋帯): Used for an obi knot called "hitoe taiko" (一重太鼓). Used for semi-formal occasions, this obi has a variety of types.
・Half-Width Obi (半幅帯): The width of the obi is half the size of a pouch or Nagoya obi. Used for casual kimono and yukata.
Prominent Kimono Production Areas
Kimono is a traditional craft with dyeing and weaving methods varying from one region to the next.
There are many production areas, and we'll introduce some of them here.
Mainly produced in Kyoto and Nishijin.
Threads are dyed before being woven and this is a high-quality product.
・Kaga Yuzen (加賀友禅)
Produced mainly in Kanazawa (Kaga), Ishikawa Prefecture.
Dyed with the yuzen resist dying technique. A high-quality product.
Tokyo Komon (東京小紋)
Oshima Tsumugi (大島紬)
Kyoyuzen Dyeing (京友禅)
Decorative Kimono Accessories
There are various decorative accessories for kimono.
・Han-eri (半襟): A collar to keep the collar of a kimono clean. Comes in a variety of fashionable embroidery styles and colors.
・Obiage (帯揚げ): A cloth to cover an obi-makura (pillow) and other objects used for tying an obi.
・Obijime (帯締め): A string used to fasten a tied obi.
・Obidome (帯留め): An accessory to fasten an obi-string.
・Zori (草履): Sandals worn to match the kimono.
・Bags: Zori and bags can also be bought in a set.
・Tabi Shoes (足袋): Shoes that resemble socks.
A roll of cloth equivalent to the length of an adult's kimono is referred to as a "tanmono" (反物).
They are measured in "tan" (反, "tan," a variable measure of fabric (28.8 cm in width); for kimonos: at least 10 meters in length; for haori: at least 7.27 meters in length; for other clothes: at least 6.06 meters in length).
Nowadays, the standard length of cloth used in a kimono is about 36 cm in width and about 12 m in length.
In recent years, you can buy a kimono online, but before that, the most common way of buying a kimono was to go to a department store, a kimono shop, or other similar shop and have it tailor made.
How to Take Care of a Kimono
To enjoy a kimono for a long time, it is necessary to take care of it.
There is a specific way to fold a kimono.
If you fold it correctly along the fold, it becomes a rectangle.
Traditionally, paulownia chests and other wardrobes were used to store kimono.
Paulownia wood is said to be resistant to moisture and insects.
Unlike western-style clothing, besides a few parts of the kimono, it is not possible to wash it at home.
After putting on a kimono, use a kimono hanger and hang it out to dry in the shade overnight to get rid of dust and dirt.
How to care for a kimono depends on the material, but you may not be able to wash it by yourself, especially in the case of silk. If it gets too dirty, you can request a special kimono cleaning service.
Enjoy Wearing Kimono!
There are various rules and regulations for the traditional kimono, but there are also casual ways to enjoy it as well.
One way is to rent one or buy a kimono set.
If you choose a kimono that suits your purpose, you can rest assured that the obi and accessories included in the set will be coordinated.
You can also rent a kimono at numerous tourist destination throughout Japan.
This is a popular choice as it will give you a chance to experience something uniquely Japanese and make your trip unforgettable.
You can easily find them in areas with a distinctly Japanese atmosphere, such as Kyoto, Kanazawa, Tokyo's Asakusa and Nara.
In Kyoto, you can also experience becoming a maiko by doing makeup and putting on a wig.
You can also find kimono tutorials on YouTube or social media sites for reference.
Sometimes old kimono and other items are sold at cheap prices, and many people recycle them, while others wear these used kimono as a style.
COOL JAPAN VIDEOS introduces the charm of Japan through videos about kimono and other Japanese clothing!