Kimono – All about traditional Japanese clothing

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Do you know the traditional Japanese clothing called Kimono? In this article we will see a little about the famous traditional Kimono dress and its parts and accessories, as well as some other similar clothes.

Japan maintains an ancient culture, even with westernization, Japanese fashion differs from all over the world. Fortunately, traditional clothing from previous centuries remains in fashion, being worn on many occasions.

Which country has the kimono as a traditional attire?

Although the article makes it clear that the Kimono is a traditional Japanese clothing, both Japan and other Asian countries have influenced each other throughout their history. Today it is possible to find these traditional clothes in both countries.

Of course, each country has a traditional dress that differs a lot, but has similarities. In China we have Hanfu and in Korea we have Hanbok.

Traditional Chinese clothing Hanfu has wide and large sleeves like Kimono, in addition to some extra and stylish details, while Hanbok has thinner sleeves and a differentiated skirt.

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
Japanese Kimono, Chinese Hanfu and Korean Hanbok

Thing to wear – Kimono or Kimono?

The right one is Kimono or Kimono? What is the meaning? Let's start the article by answering these two small questions. Kimono is a Brazilianized version of the word Kimono. Both are correct, but I prefer to write in the original way.

Its meaning is quite simple and means something to wear. In the word Kimono, we have the ideogram dressing [着] and thing [物]. It is a simple word that is currently used to refer to a specific type of traditional Japanese clothing.

Nowadays it is common to associate the Kimono with clothes used in fights such as judo, jiu-jitsu, etc. Despite having the same name, they are different clothes. In fact, the word was once used to refer to any kind of clothing or thing to wear.

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
Japanese women wearing traditional clothes

What is the Origin of Kimono?

Kimono was created with the influence of Chinese clothing "HAN" or "Hanfu" but has developed over the centuries, being part of the traditional dress between the years 794 to the 19th century.

With time the Kimono was replaced by western clothes and yukata for having greater comfort and an easy locomotion. Today, they are used more by women, and on special occasions. Kimono has a long history, and has undergone several changes over the millennium.

In 1903, the first clothing variation inspired by the traditional kimono cutouts appeared. This variation was made by Paul Poiret and became popular throughout Europe. Soon other variations appeared, one of them was made by Brazilian Nívia Freitas and became popular around 2016.

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
A traditional Japanese clothing store

What are the parts of a Kimono?

Before knowing the pieces and accessories that make up the Kimono, we need to know the parts of this great piece.

  • Doura [胴裏] – top coat in the woman's part;
  • Eri [衿] – necklace;
  • Fuki [袘] – hem guard;
  • Sode [袖] – sleeve below the pit;
  • Obi [帯] – a belt used to fold excess cloth;
  • Maemigoro [前身頃] – main part of the front, excluding sleeves.;
  • Miyatsukuchi [身八つ口] – opening under the sleeve;
  • Okumi [衽] – front inside the panel on the left and right front edge, excluding the sleeve;
  • Sode [袖] – Manga;
  • Sodeguchi [袖口] – sleeve opening;
  • Sodetsuke [袖付] – pits;
  • Susomawashi [裾回し] – bottom lining;
  • Tamoto [袂] – sleeve bag;
  • Tomoeri [共衿] – [collar guard] along the collar;
  • Uraeri [裏襟] – inner collar;
  • Ushiromigoro [後身頃] – main part at back, excluding sleeves;
Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
Parts of a Kimono

Different type of Kimono

Kimono can vary greatly and change depending on age, season, occasion and many other factors. There is a whole etiquette behind the Kimono and even a correct way to dress them. Now let's see some types of kimono.

Furisode [振袖] are long sleeve kimonos (70 to 90 cm) that swing. It is formal and worn by unmarried girls, richly patterned, closed with an obi in bright, multicolored brocade tied in large bows at the back.

Furisode kimono can be worn by the bride's single friends at wedding ceremonies. Young girls also often use Furisode in their coming of age ceremony (20 years old) called Seijin Shiki.

Kosode [小袖] is an expression that derives from the custom that when women got married they wore Kimono with short sleeves or cut sleeves as a symbol of fidelity to their husband, giving rise to Tomesode [留袖].

Generally these Tomesode type Kimono are used in wedding ceremonies and are very formal. They usually have 5 or 3 Kamons (shields) of the family printed and embroidered on the sleeves, chest and back.

Read too: Kamon - The coat of arms of the Japanese clans

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
Japanese women in a temple

Tomesode are short sleeve kimonos usually separated by:

  • kurotomesode [黒留袖] – Black and formal;
  • irotomesode [色留袖] – Black and less formal;

The parents of the bride or groom usually use Kurotomesode, while the bride's relatives and friends usually use Irotomesode. Usually this type of Kimono wears a brocade and gold obi. The sleeves are 50 cm to 70 cm long.

houmongi [訪問着] – A plain kimono of one color, usually with pastel tones. This type does not have kamons (family shields) and is considered less formal than the Irotomesode, but can be used at parties and wedding ceremonies.

Tsukesage [付下げ] – An exquisite Kimono worn by single or married women. It usually has a more discreet decoration and is less formal than Houmongi, and can be used daily on different occasions.

Iromuji [色無地] – Kimono of only one color, which can have textures, but without decoration in another color, used mainly in Tea Ceremonies. It may have a small decorative embroidery or a Kamon (family shield) on the back.

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
Different types of traditional Japanese clothing

What are the differences between Kimono and Yukata?

Yukata is one of the most Kimono-like items and is often confused by people who don't know their differences. One of the main differences is that the traditional kimono is made up of several pieces, while the yukata is simpler and thinner.

Yukata is a more casual and thin type of Kimono, usually composed of just one piece and a belt. It is often used after bathing in traditional Ryokan and Onsen hotels. The word Yukata literally means bathing suit.

Yukata [浴衣] is a popular Japanese dress in summer. Usually people wear Yukata at Japanese festivals and fireworks festivals (Hanabi Taikai) and other traditional summer events.

To learn more about traditional Japanese summer clothing, we recommend you also read:

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
Japanese Yukata

What are the Parts and Accessories of a Kimono?

There are several other accessories and related clothing items that were created just to be worn with Kimono. If you don't wear some of the pieces that we are going to mention below, you can't even say you're wearing a Kimono.

Obi [帯] -Ornate wide belts that are wrapped around the waist of the Kimono or Yukata. Depending on the outfit, these obi can cost more than the kimono itself.

Eri-sugata [衿姿] – False collar that can be used with the kimono to simulate more layers;

Haori [羽織] – Types of coats that can be worn over kimonos on cold days. Happi [法被] is a type of Haori used by shopkeepers, which is currently widely seen as team uniforms at festivals.

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
See some parts and differences from traditional clothes

Koshihimo [腰紐] – A narrow sash used to aid in dressing, often made of silk or wool. They are used to keep virtually anything in place during the dressing process, and can be used in a variety of ways.

nagajuban [長襦袢] – Kimono-shaped cloak worn by men and women under the Kimono. As they are made of silk, they are delicate and difficult to clean, the nagajuban helps keep the kimono clean by preventing contact with the wearer's skin.

zori [草履] – Traditional sandals similar to flip-flops. There are formal and informal zori, they are made of many materials including fabric, leather and vinyl and can be embellished.

  • Geta [下駄] – Wooden sandals worn by men and women with yukata;
  • Waraji [草鞋] – Straw sandals used by monks;

Women's Kimono parts and accessories

Hiyoku [ひよく] A type of sub-kimono, historically worn by women under the kimono. Today they are only worn on formal occasions such as weddings and other important social events.

Kanzashi [簪] – Hair ornaments worn by women. There are many different styles, including silk flowers, wooden combs, and hair clips.

  • Juban [襦袢] and Hadajuban [肌襦袢] – A fine garment similar to a sweater;
  • Susoyoke [裾除け] – An inner skirt, a feminine underwear;
Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing

Men's Kimono parts and accessories

Hakama [袴] – Traditional Japanese clothing. It is usually worn over the kimono covering the lower part of the body and resembling wide pants. Hakama are traditionally men's clothing.

Originally it was only used by samurai men to protect their legs while riding horses. On foot, the Hakama hides its legs, making it more difficult to predict movement, thus giving it an advantage in combat.

Nowadays, Hakama are only used in extremely formal situations, such as tea ceremonies, weddings and funerals. Attendants at Shinto shrines and practitioners of certain Japanese martial arts such as aikido, kenjutsu, kendo, and kyudo also wear Hakama.

  • Fundoshi [褌] – Traditional Japanese underwear [loincloth] for male adults, made from cotton;
  • Netsuke [根付 ou 根付け] – Consists of a worn ornament suspended from the obi;
  • Jittoku [十徳] Type of haori worn only by men;
  • Jinbaori [陣羽織] – Made specifically for a samurai to wear;

These were some curiosities about the kimono and its accessories. If you liked the article, don't forget to share and leave your comments. Thank you very much and until next time!

Kimono - parts and accessories of traditional Japanese clothing
japanese traditional wedding

The Kimono of the West

Strangely, whenever we look for Kimono on clothing websites in the West, we come across pieces that have absolutely nothing to do with traditional Japanese Kimono. We only found a few short and even low-cut blouses, the complete opposite of a kimono.

I don't know for sure, but this is Western invention. In 1903, French stylist Paul Poiret created a version of a short kimono coat, which generated a lot of controversy, but became popular in Europe.

A Brazilian stylist named Nívia Freitas also created her version of the kimono as a dress in 2016, which also became a trend. When researching Kimono we also came across a lot of fighting uniforms, which in Japan have different names.

It seems that in Brazil any layered blouse with a belt ends up being nicknamed Kimono. Here even the Yukata are sold in the shop under the name Kimono, but don't be fooled.

Kimono – all about traditional Japanese clothing
kids fighting karate

What occasions to wear a Kimono?

kimono [着物 Kimono] is a traditional Japanese garment composed of silk clothes, belts and various accessories. Because it's a traditional, expensive and complex outfit, no, it's something common to wear day to day.

Despite all the difficulties and different types of Kimonos for each occasion, they are very dear to the Japanese. Below we will see some of the main situations or occasions where you should wear a Kimono:

Kimono with Hakama skirt at graduation ceremony

A great opportunity to wear the kimono is during graduation ceremonies at universities and colleges. For women, it is one of the only opportunities to wear the Hakama over the Kimono (a type of skirt worn by samurai).

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
Graduation wearing a traditional outfit with hakama

the wedding kimono

Western-style weddings are very popular in Japan, but some prefer to wear kimonos at traditional Shinto weddings. Those who marry in the Western style also often wear the bridal kimono during the wedding party.

At Shinto weddings, the groom typically wears a traditional dark-colored outfit with five family crests, known as a kurotomesode. The groom also wears a hakama.

Wedding guests also often wear traditional Japanese clothing. Single and young women often wear brighter colors, older guests often wear darker colors.

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
traditional shinto wedding

Kimono used in Funerals

At funerals it is customary to use the black kimono, unfortunately this custom has been replaced by suits that are cheaper.

Wearing Kimono in stores

Employees at stores that sell traditional items such as wagashi often wear kimono. Cleaning the street in front of the store with Kimono is a tradition. There are many other types of stores that often choose traditional clothing as their uniform.

Restaurants are some of the businesses with an implied dress code. The easiest way to see Japanese people wearing their traditional clothes in a modern and technological city is to visit such traditional shops and restaurants.

Read too: 18 Wagashi – Japanese desserts

Kimono in the art of Kyudo

Kyudo is a Japanese archery art in which it is common to wear Kimono along with Hakama. It is quite different from the Kimono clothes used by Japanese martial arts, even because Kyudo is more common to have the participation of women.

Read too: Top 10 Japanese Martial Arts + List

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
Kyudo Art Practitioners

Using Kimono at Festivals and Hanami

Japanese festivals often involve performances or parades by people in yukata, or kimono. In many cases, people also attend traditional Japanese clothing festivals.

However, it is much more common to go to a matsuri in a yukata (a type of summer kimono, cheaper). In addition to the festivals, during the months when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the Japanese often wear a Kimono or Yukata to watch the cherry blossoms bloom.

See too: Hanami Guide – Appreciating Flowers in Japan

Kimono - all about traditional Japanese clothing
Girls enjoying the hanami festival

Other situations in which the Kimono is used

Those who participate in the tea ceremony wear a Kimono. Geisha and Maiko in addition to traditional clothing often wear additional layers, such as a shiny inner layer known as a hiyoku.

Traditional Japanese inns are a great opportunity for you to use a Yukata. It is common to wear kimono to training and events in traditional Japanese arts such as Ikebana, musical performances or traditional wrestling.

See too: Ikebana – The Japanese art of flower arranging

These are some of the occasions that the Japanese wear this traditional outfit. There are many others, as well as many details that have not been mentioned on each occasion. What did you think of the article? Leave your comments and share with friends.

Where to Buy a Kimono?

To purchase traditional Japanese clothes, you may need to import from Japanese websites, but there are alternatives such as having them made or buying cheap imitations inspired by famous stores like Amazon.

We also recommend reading: Amazon – The largest online store in Japan and the world

Maybe your case is just a Kimono to practice martial arts. If that is the case, the options below will help you:

videos about kimono

Below we will leave some videos related to traditional Japanese clothing:

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