AsiaMag | Japan Culture : Kimono

Japan Culture : Kimono

Who has not heard of Kimono, this traditional Japanese garment? But did you know that there are many types? To know everything about Kimono, read on …

Kimono Means a “Thing to Wear” in Japanese Language. At the time, a Japanese woman did not wear the same kimono to go to a wedding, drink tea or visit her friends. Similarly, if this woman was married or single. Even if today the traditional culture is lost a lot in Japan, because of the western influence, here are the different variants of Kimonos.

1. Furisode

Furisode means “long sleeves” or “undulating sleeve” because of its sleeves that can measure between 75 and 125 cm. It was thought that a young woman could wave the sleeves of her kimono and win the heart of a man even far away. The furisode was then as it is now, reserved for single women. The longer the sleeves are, the more the furisode is formal. It is colorful and made of fine silk meticulously decorated by hand, detailed embroidery and gold leaf. The belt, zori and accessories are chosen to enhance the colors of the kimono and are usually bright and cheerful. This is the most formal kimono for single women who wear it at events such as a tea ceremony, party, majority (20 year old) or marriage.

2. Komon

The komon (“small motives”) can be worn by married women or not. The entire kimono is covered with patterns, not necessarily small, just repeated, arranged regularly. Komon patterns can vary a lot: full or sparse, geometric or not, arranged in stripes or “splashed” all over the fabric, big or small, bright or discrete… As usual in kimono aesthetics, the bigger the patterns the younger is the look. It is the most informal silk kimono that can be worn for most everyday occasions such as a party, a visit to a loved one, going to the movies, shopping or a tea ceremony. It can be made more formal with a nice obi.

3. Tomesode

The tomesode (“tied sleeves”) is the most formal silk kimono for married women. He is struck with one, three or five faces of the family and his designs, which may be silver or gold, are concentrated in the lower part. There are two types: colored (irotomesode) or black (kurotomesode).

Kuro’s tomesode is a formal kimono worn by married women. It is decorated on the back with an elegant, usually floral, escutcheon, the design and escutcheon are of the husband’s family. The crest of the husband appears in 5 places: on the back of the two sleeves, on the left and right breasts, and on the back top. The inside of the collar is white. The most formal is the fukuro this one on the folded belt twice and zori (Japanese sandals) are worn with the white tabi (socks lined at the tip of the foot). The sleeves are considerably shorter in length than furisode ones and therefore the tomesode is more suitable for married women.

Iro’s tomesode is like the kuro tomesode except that instead of being black, the background is usually of a light color. It was originally worn by ladies of the court, so that today it is worn on special occasions.As it is a little less formal, it may be suitable to go to a wedding (for relatives of the newlyweds), a party, a graduation ceremony or tea.

4. Iromuji

Iromuji (“solid color”) is a silk kimono with no patterns and only one color (except black) for married and single women. Some have painted patterns inside the kimono. It is more or less formal according to the absence, the presence and the number of blazons. Therefore it is suitable for official occasions (wedding, ceremony) or more informal (go to the restaurant, pay a visit). It is particularly suitable for the tea ceremony.

5. Mofuku

Mofuku is the mourning kimono of women as well as men. It is an entirely black silk kimono, free of patterns, except for the five family faces, and worn over white underwear and tabis. For women, the obi and other outfit accessories are black too. It is reserved for the family and relatives of the deceased.

6. Houmongi

Houmongi (or homongi) means “visiting clothes”, it is less formal than the tomesode but more than the komon or tsukesage.
It is a silk kimono whose patterns start from the shoulder and extend downwards. The complexity of this kimono is in the continuity of the patterns despite the seams (otherwise the kimono is tsukesage type). It may occasionally be adorned with one or three coats of arms. Married or single women dress for receptions, visits, restaurants or tea ceremonies.

7. Yukata

Originally yukata were worn out of the Japanese baths or during a hot spring, however recently they have also become popular in the summer as an occasional alternative to the classic kimono. The yukata is now worn in summer because it is a kimono without cotton lining. It is known for its bright colors and simple design. It is an informal kimono worn by women and men, regardless of their age. Compared to other types of kimonos, yukata is much easier to put on and is also cheaper. The simple mid-wide belt is attached to the waist and is worn with wooden clogs (Geta). The yukata is popularly worn during summer family walks for festivals and fireworks. The yukata is also very popular in Vietnam where it is frequently worn during conventions manga and cosplays.

8. Susohiki ou Hikizuri

The Hikizuri, also called susohiki, is the kimono of the geishas or lady of company. He is also brought on stage by traditional dancers. It is made of silk, but unlike other kimonos, it is much longer and has a train that slides on the ground. You should know that geisha usually wore once or twice their kimono before reselling.

9. Odori katamigawari

Odori meaning “dance”, we understand immediately that it is a kimono designed to perform traditional dance. Katamigawari means “half and half” because of its generally divided scenery in two radically opposed parts. This kimono is often made of synthetic fibers to be washed more easily than silk kimonos. It is not doubled to not keep too hot the dancer.

10. Uchikake

An extremely formal silk kimono with long sleeves and a train. It can be entirely white or predominantly red, gold and black. It is richly embroidered with many auspicious motifs such as phoenix, crane, turtle, bamboo, pine, plum blossoms. He wears his cloak over a generally white furisode (the kakeshita) and is never closed by an obi. It was worn by samurai families or noble nuns on special occasions. Today she is worn above the shiromuku as part of the traditional bridal costume. It can also be worn by professional stage artists.

This kimono allows a great freedom of creation and luxury. It is worn with many accessories and contains several layers. Very long, the uchikake generally requires to have a woman of honor, so as not to let him drag on the ground. Unlike Western dresses, it is not only composed of a train, but it is also as long in the front as in the back. Uchikake are so expensive that they are usually rented for the occasion.