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The Complete Guide To Japan’s Kimono: Traditional Types, History, And More!

Kimono worn by geisha and maiko probably come to mind when you hear the words "traditional Japanese clothing". There are actually a variety of kimono that can be worn regularly or depending on the season, and this article will tell you all about them.

Traditional Japanese Clothes

Kimono immediately spring to mind when you hear "traditional Japanese clothing". Splendid dyes, gorgeous patterns, and premier fabrics earn this traditional piece of clothing high praise around the world. Though their shape varies little, differences in the materials, patterns, and colors of a kimono designate one's status, while the knot in the obi can also identify their personality. Traditional techniques used in creating a kimono, such as Kyoto's Nishi-jin ori and Ishikawa's Kaga Yuzen, have been passed down for generations and it would be no exaggeration to call these articles works of art. High-quality kimono such as these could not be worn so easily by common folk long ago, nor can they be so easily acquired these days. Kimono made for work and those made to endure the heat of a Japanese summer are among the many types of kimono that exist. This article will tell you all about the kinds of kimono that are used.

Kimono

There are certain occasions where wearing a kimono is appropriate, similar to wearing a dress. The use of the kimono varies depending on a variety of factors, such as the wearer's age, marital status, the formality of the occasion, whether or not it is a ceremony, and more. For example, an unmarried woman might wear a furisode, a long-sleeved kimono with a gorgeous pattern, as a formal dress. Pure white kimono known as shiromuku are used as a woman's wedding dress. Tomosode are highly formal, black kimono worn by married women. Shiromuku are rarely worn, and married women rarely wear furisode. Authentic kimonos such as these can be purchased at fabric stores. Still, tailoring a kimono requires a great amount of time, and a certain skill is also necessary to wear a kimono, making putting one on by yourself quite the task. We recommend using rental kimono at popular tourist spots such as Kyoto, Asakusa, or Harajuku.

Yukata

Yukata are a thin type of kimono worn in summer. In olden times yukata were worn after getting out of a bath (such as at a hot spring area). Though the materials, obi, and method of wearing a yukata differ from a kimono, the shape is mostly the same. Still, they differ from a kimono in that they can be worn quite easily without any special skills. Furthermore, they are sold at much lower prices and in a variety of designs compared to a kimono, meaning that many people can wear yukata these days. People of all ages can be found enjoying cool summer evenings while clad in yukata, especially at large fireworks festivals.

Hakama

Hakama are worn below the waistline of a kimono and might be referred to as slacks in Western clothing. They were often worn by warriors long ago, their design featuring a culotte-like part down the center which was particularly useful while riding horseback, granting the name 'riding hakama'. These days hakama are still worn in the traditional martial arts of kyudo (Japanese archery) and kendo (Japanese fencing). Generally, men wear hakama at weddings and at celebrations for Coming of Age Day (a day where younger folks celebrate turning 20). Andon bakama, a type of hakama design with a tube-like skirt and a wider hem, are for women and are often worn along with kimono at graduation or other ceremonies.

Samue & Jinbei

Upper wear and lower wear for the samue and jinbei are separated, making them similar to Western clothing even though they are Japanese. While samue are often worn these days as clothes for relaxing, they were originally worn as work clothes by monks. They can be worn in any season, and the trouser-like portion extends to the ankles. A decent amount of give and relative ease of movement makes them perfect for work clothes. Jinbei, however, are short-sleeved and feature shorts, making them ideal for the humid Japanese summer. At fireworks festivals and other summer festivals, men can often be seen strolling about in jinbei.

Haori & Hanten

Haori are a type of coat worn atop a kimono during winter or in cold weather. They feature a folded collar as well as a strap for the neck. The popularity of the haori spread after it was worn on top of a samurai's armor to protect against the cold in battle. Haori bearing a family crest are known as montsuki haori, or crested haori, and are often worn in modern times by men at wedding ceremonies. The hanten on the other hand is worn by common people for both work and protection from the cold, is not folded at collar and features no strap for the neck. Another type of hanten called a shirushi banten ("signboard" hanten) bearing the name of a store on the back also exists and is worn at festivals or events.

Even now these types of kimono are worn by many people. The easy-to-wear yukata, samue, and hanten are particularly recommended as souvenirs!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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