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Young Woman at Kennin-ji Zen Temple - Kyoto - Japan - 01 (47929418887).jpg
A Zen templegoer wearing a formal cherry-blossom-motif kimono.
20140525 Kokontei-Shinpachi.jpg
A rakugoka wearing kimono and 5-mon haori .
Qing Zi Suo Mian Di Ju Mo Yang Zhao Wu  (Xi Fu )-Kimono Ensemble with Chrysanthemums MET 1998 487 2ab rel1.jpg
A man and a woman wearing formal kimono, for a 1923 wedding (other views).
Kimono for a young woman, depicting a boat on swirling water, with pine tree, plum blossoms and maples. Japan, 1912-1926. From the Khalili Collection of Kimono Khalili Collection Kimono 02.jpg
Kimono for a young woman, depicting a boat on swirling water, with pine tree, plum blossoms and maples. Japan, 1912–1926. From the Khalili Collection of Kimono
Woman in kimono at Fukuoka City Hall Stylish person at Fukuoka City Hall.jpg
Woman in kimono at Fukuoka City Hall

[Third-generation yūzen dyer Jotaro Saito] believes we are in a strange age where people who know nothing about kimono are the ones who spend a lot of money on a genuine handcrafted kimono for a wedding that is worn once by someone who suffers wearing it, and then is never used again. [43] :134

The high cost of most brand-new kimono reflects in part the pricing techniques within the industry. Most brand-new kimono are purchased through gofukuya, where kimono are sold as fabric rolls only, the price of which is often left to the shop's discretion. The shop will charge a fee separate to the cost of the fabric for it to be sewn to the customer's measurements, and fees for washing the fabric or weatherproofing it may be added as another separate cost. If the customer is unfamiliar with wearing kimono, they may hire a service to help dress them; the end cost of a new kimono, therefore, remains uncertain until the kimono itself has been finished and worn. [18]

Gofukuya are also regarded as notorious for sales practices seen as unscrupulous and pressuring:

Many [Japanese kimono consumers] feared a tactic known as kakoikomi: being surrounded by staff and essentially pressured into purchasing an expensive kimono [...] Shops are also renowned for lying about the origins of their products and who made them [...] [My kimono dressing (kitsuke) teacher] gave me careful instructions before we entered the [gofukuya]: 'do not touch anything. And even if you don't buy a kimono today, you have to buy something, no matter how small it is.' [18] :115–117

In contrast, kimono bought by hobbyists are likely to be less expensive, purchased from second-hand stores with no such sales practices or obligation to buy. Hobbyists may also buy cheaper synthetic kimono (marketed as 'washable') brand-new. Some enthusiasts also make their own kimono; this may be due to difficulty finding kimono of the right size, or simply for personal choice and fashion.

Second-hand items are seen as highly affordable; costs can be as little as ¥100 (about US$0.90)[ citation needed ] at thrift stores within Japan, and certain historic kimono production areas around the country – such as the Nishijin district of Kyoto – are well known for their second-hand kimono markets. Kimono themselves do not go out of fashion, making even vintage or antique pieces viable for wear, depending on condition. [44]

However, even second-hand women's obi are likely to remain somewhat pricey; a used, well-kept and high-quality second-hand obi can cost upwards of US$300,[ citation needed ] as they are often intricately woven, or decorated with embroidery, goldwork and may be hand-painted. Men's obi, in contrast, retail much cheaper, as they are narrower, shorter, and have either very little or no decoration, though high-end men's obi can still retail at a high cost equal to that of a high-end women's obi.

Types of kimono

Several different types of kimono exist. These varieties are primarily based on formality and gender, with more women's varieties of kimono existing than men's.

The modern kimono canon was roughly formalised after WWII, following fabric shortages, a generation unfamiliar with wearing kimono in everyday life, and the postwar revival of kimono sales by gofukuya, traditional kimono shops. In previous centuries, types of kimono were not as distinct, with factors such as age and social class playing a much larger role in determining kimono types than they do presently. Beginning in the Meiji period, and following the Meiji Restoration and the abolition of class distinctions, kimono varieties began to change as Japanese society did, with new varieties being invented for new social situations.


A hinata kamon dyed onto a kimono. MET 2001 428 45 mon komon.jpg
A hinata kamon dyed onto a kimono.
A dyed 'shadow' (kage) kamon on the centre-back seam of a haori Shadow kamon on haori.jpg
A dyed 'shadow' (kage) kamon on the centre-back seam of a haori

Kimono range in variation from extremely formal to very casual. For women, the formality is determined mostly by pattern placement, decoration style, fabric choice and colour. For men, whose kimono are generally monochromatic, formality is determined typically by fabric choice and colour. For both men and women, the accessories and obi worn with the kimono also determine formality.

The formality levels of different types of kimono are a relatively modern invention, having been developed between late Meiji- to post-war Japan, following the abolition of Edo-period sumptuary clothing laws in 1868. [45] These laws changed constantly, as did the strictness with which they were enforced, and were designed to keep the nouveau riche merchant classes from dressing above their station, and appearing better-dressed than monetarily-poor but status-rich samurai class.

Colours and patterns

Under feudal sumptuary laws, colours were restricted by class; for instance, indigo-dyed clothing was allowed for all classes, and was commonly seen in hand-dyed cotton, linen or hemp kasuri fabrics, but other dyes, such as reds and purples, were forbidden to those below a certain class. Sometimes, for some classes, designs were restricted to below the belt, to the bottoms of the sleeves (for furisode) or to along the hem (suso-moyo); sometimes they were banned altogether, [37] and were transferred to the collar of the underkimono, [46] or the inside of the hem, where only the faintest glimpse would be intermittently visible. This type of subtle ostentation became an aesthetic known as iki , and outlasted the sumptuary laws. [37] Modern-day rules of formality, however, still echo clothing distinctions typically employed by the uppermost samurai classes. [37]

Aspects of men's kimono still follow this extreme of iki. Bright, elaborate decoration is used on the lining of the haori (jacket), and on men's juban (underkimono), which is not worn as an outer layer outside the home, and so only shows at the neck and inside the sleeves. Women's juban were once bright and boldly-patterned (and were often kimono too damaged to use as an outer layer, repurposed), but are now typically muted pastel shades. [36] [32] The outside of men's garments tended towards subtle patterns and colours even after the sumptuary laws lifted, with blues and blacks predominating, but designers later came to use browns, greens, purples, and other colours in increasingly bold patterns.

Older people generally wear more subtle patterns, and younger people brighter, bolder ones.

Fabric type

Couple being married in formal traditional dress Shinto married couple.jpg
Couple being married in formal traditional dress

Kimono vary widely in fabric type, and are not all made of silk. Certain types of fabric, such as wool, cotton, linen and hemp, are always considered informal, and so are not seen on more formal varieties of kimono. Certain varieties of silk, such as tsumugi , are considered informal, [47] having once been woven only by silk farmers out of unusable cocoons for their own use; other, more modern varieties, such as meisen , were designed to be used as casual, cheap daywear, and are machine-spun and -woven using brightly-patterned yarns. Some varieties of crêpe are on the lowest end of formal, with their rougher texture considered unsuitable for formal use; [47] other varieties, such as smooth crêpe, are used for all varieties of formal kimono. The most formal kimono are only ever made of smooth, fine silks, such as glossy silk fabrics like habutai.

Some fabrics are also worn only at certain times of year; ro , for instance, is a plain-weave fabric with leno weave stripes only worn in high summer (July and August), but is used for all types of kimono and for other garments, such as under-kimono and obi. [46] [36] Some fabrics – such as certain types of crêpe – are never seen in certain varieties of kimono, [lower-alpha 2] and some fabrics such as shusu (heavy satin) silk are barely ever seen in modern kimono or obi altogether, having been more popular in previous eras than in the present-day.

Despite their informal nature, many types of traditional, informal kimono fabrics are highly-prized for their craftsmanship. Varieties of tsumugi, kasuri , and fabrics woven from Musa basjoo are valued for their traditional production, and regularly command high prices.

Lined and unlined kimono

In the summer months (from June [48] until October [24] in the most stringent kimono guides, such as those for tea ceremony), kimono are unlined (hitoe); for the rest of the year, they are lined (awase). This applies to all types of kimono, with a few caveats: the very informal yukata is always unlined, and thus only worn in summer; the most formal kimono, in contrast, are unlikely to be worn unlined in summer, as many people simply do not have more than one formal kimono to wear, and do not wear formal kimono often enough to warrant the purchase of a new, unlined kimono, just for summer wear. Obi also change fabric type in the summer months.

Within the two realms of lined and unlined, further distinctions exist for different months. Lined kimono are either made from transparent or gauze fabrics (usu-mono) or opaque fabrics, with kimono transitioning towards gauze fabrics at the height of summer and away from them as autumn begins. In one kimono guide for tea ceremony, at the start of the unlined season in June, fabrics such as kawari-chirimen (a type of silk crêpe noted as a more "wrinkle-resistant" form of hitokoshi-chirimen) and komayori ro (a thicker type of ro with twisted silk threads) are recommended for wear. [48] Following the beginning of the rainy season in some time in July, fabrics switch over to gauzier varieties, and highly-prized hemp fabrics such as Echigo-jofu are worn. [49] Continuing into August, hemp, ro and sha continue to be worn; in September, they are still worn, but fabrics such as hitokoshi chirimen, worn in June, become suitable again, and opaque fabrics become preferred over sheer, though sheer may still be worn if the weather is hot. [24]

In the same kimono guide, the first lined kimono are worn in October, and the transition away from plainer opaque fabrics to richer silks such as rinzu is immediate. The richness of fabrics increases going into November and December, with figured silks featuring woven patterns appropriate. Coming into January, crêpe fabrics with a rougher texture become appropriate, with fabrics such as tsumugi worn in February. [24] Figured silks continue to be worn until June, when the unlined season begins again.


Formality is also determined by the number and type of mon or kamon (crests). Five crests (itsutsu mon) are the most formal, three crests (mitsu mon) are mid-formality, and one crest (hitotsu mon) is the least formal, used for occasions such as tea ceremony. Kimono (and other garments, like hakama) with mon are called montsuki ("mon-carrying"). The type of crest adds formality as well. A "full sun" (hinata) crest, where the design is outlined and filled in with white, is the most formal type. A "mid-shadow" (nakakage) crest is mid-formality, with only the outline of the crest visible in white. A "shadow" (kage) crest is the least formal, with the outline of the crest relatively faint. Shadow crests may be embroidered onto the kimono, and full-embroidery crests, called nui mon, are also seen. [50]

Choice of accessories

Formality can also be determined by the type and colour of accessories. For women, this may be the weave of obijime and the style of obiage.[ citation needed ] For men, adding a haori (a traditional jacket) makes an outfit more formal, and adding both haori and hakama (traditional trousers) is more formal still. The material, colour, and pattern of these overgarments also varies in formality. [47] Longer haori are also more formal.

Sleeve length and construction

Both men's and women's kimono feature sleeves considered relatively short, with men's sleeves shorter than women's. Though lengths can vary by a few centimetres, these lengths are informally standardised.

Men's kimono sleeves are only ever one length, and women's sleeves are limited to a short length suitable for almost all types of kimono, or a longer length used for only one type of formal young women's kimono. In the modern day, the two lengths of women's sleeve worn on kimono are furisode length, which almost reaches the floor, and a shorter length, used for every other variety of women's kimono.

Before WWII, the length of women's kimono sleeves varied, with sleeves gradually shortening as a woman got older. During WWII, due to shortage of fabric, the 'short' length of women's kimono sleeves became standardised, and post-WWII, the realm of long kimono sleeves was narrowly curtailed to the realm of furisode only – formal young women's and girl's kimono, where previously longer sleeves were seen on other varieties of dress, both formal and informal. Pre-WWII women's kimono are recognisable for their longer sleeves, which, though not furisode length, are longer than most women's kimono sleeves today.

Young women are not limited to wearing only furisode, and outside of formal occasions that warrant it, can wear all other types of women's kimono which feature shorter sleeves.

General types of kimono


The juban, also referred to as the nagajuban, is an under-kimono worn by both men and women. Juban resemble a kimono in construction, with a few key differences: the sleeves are typically open along the entire cuff side, with only a few stitches sewing both sides together placed where a normal kimono sleeve cuff would end; the sleeve has no curve sewn into the outer edge, instead being square; the juban is typically a little shorter than the length of a kimono when worn, and features no extra length to be bloused into an ohashori for women's kimono; the front either does not have any overlapping panels (okumi) or features only thin ones, with the collar set at a lower angle than that of a regular kimono. Juban are considered an essential piece of kimono underwear, and are worn with all types of kimono except for yukata.

Juban are typically made of lightweight materials, often silk. Women's juban and can either be patterned or entirely plain, and modern women's juban are frequently white in colour.

Men's juban are often dyed in dark colours, and can be made of the same material as the outer kimono, as some kimono fabric bolts ( tanmono ) are woven with enough length to accommodate this. Men's juban sre frequently more decorative than women's, often featuring a dyed pictorial scene in the upper back, such as a scene from The Tale of Genji .

In the late 19th and early 20th century, women's juban transitioned from being mostly red with bold white motifs to being white or light pastel colours. The dye technique previously used to achieve this, beni itajime , fell out of fashion and knowledge and was rediscovered in 2010. [51] :1


Hadajuban are a type of kimono undergarment traditionally worn underneath the nagajuban. Hadajuban are even further removed from resembling a kimono in construction than the nagajuban; the hadajuban comes in two pieces (a wrap-front top and a skirt), features no collar, and either has tube sleeves or is sleeveless.

Unlike the nagajuban, the hadajuban is not considered an essential piece of kimono underwear, and a t-shirt and shorts are frequently substituted in its place.


A woman and a young boy wearing yukata decorated with spider chrysanthemums and dragonflies respectively Dragonflies yukata.png
A woman and a young boy wearing yukata decorated with spider chrysanthemums and dragonflies respectively

Yukata ( 浴衣 ) are casual cotton summer kimono worn by both men and women. Yukata were originally very simple indigo and white cotton kimono, little more than a bathrobe worn either within the house, or for a short walk locally; yukata were also worn by guests at inns, with the design of the yukata displaying the inn a person was staying at. From roughly the mid-1980s onwards, they began to be produced in a wider variety of colours and designs, responding to demand for a more casual kimono that could be worn to a summer festival, and have since become more formal than their previous status as bathrobes, with high-end, less colourful yukata sometimes standing in place of komon.

In the present day, many yukata are brightly coloured, featuring large motifs from a variety of different seasons. For women, they are worn with either a hanhaba obi (half-width obi) or a heko obi (a soft, sash-like obi), and are often accessorised with colourful hair accessories. For men, yukata are worn with either an informal kaku obi or a heko obi. Children generally wear a heko obi with yukata.

Yukata are always unlined, and it is possible for women to wear a casual nagoya obi with a high-end, more subdued yukata, often with a juban underneath. A high-end men's yukata could also be dressed up in the same way.

A yukata is traditionally worn as a single layer or over a hadajuban (an underkimono worn underneath the nagajuban, featuring a simplified construction). Yukata may also be worn over the top of a t-shirt and shorts. This distinguishes yukata from a more-formal komon kimono, where a nagajuban (also simply referred to as a juban, an underkimono resembling) is worn underneath, showing a second layer of collar at the neckline. However, some modern yukata are worn with collared cotton juban featuring a collar of linen, cotton or ro, for occasions such as informal eating-out. [36] [32]


A komon with a small, repeating floral pattern Komon.jpg
A komon with a small, repeating floral pattern

Komon ( 小紋 , lit.'small pattern', though the patterns may in fact be large) are informal women's kimono. They were the type most often worn as everyday womenswear in pre-war Japan. Though informal, komon with smaller, denser patterns are considered a shade more formal than komon with larger, bolder patterns.

Komon mostly have no kamon (crests), and the sleeves are fairly short. They are made with a repeating designs, though the repeat length may be quite long. Designs can be made with any method; woven patterns, prints, stencilled patterns in alternating orientations, freehand painting ( yūzen ) or tie-dye patterns ( shibori ). Traditionally the direction of the fabric was alternated in adjacent panels (necessary due to the lack of shoulder seam), so patterns were generally reversible. If the pattern is the same way up on each panel, the komon is more formal, approaching tsukesage-level formality.[ citation needed ]

Woven geometric patterns (such as stripes) have no season, but others show images representing the season in general. Woven non-geometric patterns ( kasuri ) are also common. Small, dense patterns are often used; this is practical, as fine-scale patterns hides stains.

Komon are made with informal materials such as tsumugi (slubbed silk), cotton, linen, ramie, and hemp. In the modern day, synthetic blends and synthetics are also used; rayon (jinken) and polyester are common.

Now that kimono are not typically worn as informal clothing, komon are not worn as often as formal kimono, though they have a wider range of suitable use. Edo komon are the most formal type of komon; they may have one to three crests, with a small, fine pattern that appears to be a solid colour from a distance, and so resembles the more formal iromuji.

Edo komon

This edo komon pattern is stencil-dyed onto the fabric. MET 2001 428 40 det komon.jpg
This edo komon pattern is stencil-dyed onto the fabric.

Edo komon ( 江戸小紋 ) are a type of komon worn by women characterised by an extremely small repeating pattern, usually done in white on a coloured background. The edo komon dyeing technique is sometimes said to originate in the late Heian period (circa mid-12th century), with a motif called kozakura, which shows tiny stylised cherry blossoms on a background of white dots. In the Edo period (1603–1867), the samurai classes used them for kamishimo formal wear, with specific patterns becoming associated with specific families. Towards the end of the Edo period, in the early 1800s, commoners began to wear them. [52] Edo komon are of a similar formality to iromuji, and edo komon with one kamon can be worn as low-formality visiting wear; because of this, they are always made of silk, unlike regular komon.


Iromuji Iromuji.jpg

Iromuji ( 色無地 , lit.'solid colour') are monochromatic, undecorated women's kimono mainly worn to tea ceremonies, as the monochrome appearance is considered to be unobtrusive to the ceremony itself. Despite being monochromatic, iromuji may feature a woven design; iromuji suitable for autumn are often made of rinzu damask silk. Some edo komon with incredibly fine patterns are also considered suitable for tea ceremony, as from a distance they are visually similar to iromuji. Iromuji may occasionally have one kamon, though likely no more than this, and are always made of silk. Shibori accessories such as obiage are never worn with iromuji if the purpose of wear is a tea ceremony; instead, flat and untextured silks are chosen for accessories.


Tsukesage Tsukesage.jpg

Tsukesage ( 付け下げ ) are low-ranking women's formalwear, and are a step below hōmongi, though the two sometimes appear similar or indistinguishable. The motifs on a tsukesage are placed similarly to those of a hōmongi – across the back-right shoulder and back-right sleeve, the front-left shoulder and the front-left sleeve, and across the hem, higher at the left than the right – but, unlike hōmongi, do not typically cross over the seams of each kimono panel, though some confusingly do. In older examples, the motifs may instead be placed symmetrically along the hem, with the skirt patterns mirrored down the centre-back seam. [37]

Similarities between tsukesage and hōmongi often lead to confusion, with some tsukesage indistinguishable from hōmongi; often, tsukesage are only distinguishable from hōmongi by the size of the motifs used, with smaller, less fluid motifs generally considered to be tsukesage, and larger, more fluid motifs considered to be hōmongi. [53]

Tsukesage can have between one and three kamon, and can be worn to parties, but not ceremonies or highly formal events.


Homongi Huomongi.jpg

Hōmongi ( 訪問着 , lit.'visiting wear') are women's formal kimono with the same pattern placement as a tsukesage, but with patterns generally matching across the seams. They are always made of silk, and are considered more formal than the tsukesage.

Hōmongi are first roughly sewn up, and the design is sketched onto the fabric, before the garment is taken apart to be dyed again. The hōmongi's close relative, the tsukesage, has its patterns dyed on the bolt before sewing up. This method of production can usually distinguish the two, as the motifs on a hōmongi are likely to cross fluidly over seams in a way a tsukesage generally will not. [53] However, the two can prove near-indistinguishable at times.

Hōmongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear hōmongi to weddings (except relatives) and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.


An irotomesode dating to the 1920s displaying a mirrored skirt pattern (the same garment as in the wedding image at the top of the page) Qing Zi Suo Mian Di Ju Mo Yang Zhao Wu  (Xi Fu )-Kimono Ensemble with Chrysanthemums MET DP157069.jpg
An irotomesode dating to the 1920s displaying a mirrored skirt pattern (the same garment as in the wedding image at the top of the page)

Irotomesode ( 色留袖 , lit.'colour short-sleeve') are formal women's kimono that feature a design along the hem on a coloured background. They are slightly less formal than kurotomesode, which have roughly the same pattern placement on a black background. Irotomesode, though worn to formal events, may be chosen when a kurotomesode would make the wearer appear to be overdressed for the situation. The pattern placement for irotomesode is roughly identical to kurotomesode, though patterns seen along the fuki and okumi may drift slightly into the back hem itself. Irotomesode with five kamon are of the same formality as any kurotomesode. Irotomesode may be made of figured silk such as rinzū.


Iro-montsuki (lit.'colour mon-decorated') are formal men's kimono. Iro-montsuki feature formal crests along the shoulders on a colour background, which, apart from the cut of the sleeve, appears the same as an irotomesode from the waist up, and thus cannot be distinguished in pattern when worn under the hakama. [47] Because formalwear for men requires hakama, [47] men do not wear formal kimono that have elaborate patterns on the hem, as these would be hidden. [54]


A pre-WWII kurotomesode with three crests and longer sleeves. Kurotomesode.jpg
A pre-WWII kurotomesode with three crests and longer sleeves.

Kurotomesode ( 黒留袖 , lit.'black short-sleeve') are formal women's kimono, featuring a black background and a design along the hem. They are the most formal women's kimono, and are worn to formal events such as weddings and wedding parties. The design is only present along the hem; the further up the body this design reaches, the younger the wearer is considered to be, though for a very young woman an irotomesode may be chosen instead, kurotomesode being considered somewhat more mature. The design is either symmetrically placed on the fuki and okumi portions of the kimono, or asymmetrically placed along the entirety of the hem, with the design being larger and higher-placed at the left side than the right. Vintage kimono are more likely to have the former pattern placement than the latter, though this is not a hard rule.

Kurotomesode are always made of silk, and may have a hiyoku – a false lining layer – attached, occasionally with a slightly padded hem. A kurotomesode usually has between 3 and 5 crests; a kurotomesode of any number of crests outranks an irotomesode with less than five. Kurotomesode, though formalwear, are not allowed at the royal court, as black is the colour of mourning, despite the colour designs decorating the kimono itself;[ citation needed ] outside of the royal court, this distinction for kurotomesode does not exist. Kurotomesode are never made of flashy silks such as rinzū, but are instead likely to be a matte fabric with little texture.

Kurotomesode typically feature kazari jitsuke (飾り仕付け), small white decorative prickstitches along the collar.


Kuro-montsuki ("black mon-decorated") are the most formal men's kimono, which, apart from the cut of the sleeve, look exactly the same from the waist up as a kurotomesode, and thus cannot be distinguished in pattern when worn under the hakama required for men's formal dress. [47]

Occasion-specific types


Mofuku ( 喪服 ) are a category of kimono and kimono accessories suitable for mourning, worn by both men and women. Mofuku kimono, obi and accessories are characterised by their plain, solid black appearance. Mofuku kimono are plain black silk with five kamon, worn with white undergarments and white tabi. Men wear a kimono of the same kind, with a subdued obi and a black-and-white or black-and-grey striped hakama, worn with black or white zōri.

A completely black mourning ensemble for women – a plain black obi, black obijime and black obiage – is usually reserved for those closest to the deceased. Those further away will wear kimono in dark and subdued colours, rather than a plain black kimono with a reduced number of crests. In time periods when kimono were worn more often, those closest to the deceased would slowly begin dressing in coloured kimono over a period of weeks after the death, with the obijime being the last thing to be changed over to colour. [1]


An uchikake (formal over-kimono) depicting cranes, from the Khalili Collection of Kimono Khalili Collection Kimono 01.jpg
An uchikake (formal over-kimono) depicting cranes, from the Khalili Collection of Kimono

Uchikake ( 打ち掛け ) are highly formal women's over-kimono, worn only by brides or onstage. The name uchikake comes from the Japanese verb uchikake-ru, "to drape upon", originating in roughly the 16th century from a fashion among the ruling classes of the time to wear kimono (then called kosode , lit.'small sleeve') unbelted over the shoulders of one's other garments; [1] :34 the uchikake progressed into being an over-kimono worn by samurai women before being adopted some time in the 20th century as bridal wear.

Uchikake are designed to be worn over the top of a complete kimono outfit with obi, and thus are not designed to be worn belted. Unlike their 16th century counterparts, modern uchikake generally could not double as a regular kimono, as they often feature heavy, highly-formal decoration and may be padded throughout, if not solely on the hem. They are designed to trail along the floor, and the heavily-padded hem helps to achieve this.

Bridal uchikake are typically red or white, and often decorated heavily with auspicious motifs. Because they are not designed to be worn with an obi, the designs cover the entirety of the back.


A shiromuku with tsunokakushi (wedding headpiece) Wedding kimono.jpg
A shiromuku with tsunokakushi (wedding headpiece)

Shiromuku ( 白無垢 , lit.'white pure-innocence') are pure-white wedding kimono worn by brides for a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding ceremony. Comparable to an uchikake and sometimes described as a white uchikake, the shiromuku is worn for the part of the wedding ceremony, symbolising the purity of the bride coming into the marriage. The bride may later change into a red uchikake after the ceremony to symbolise good luck.

A shiromuku will form part of a bridal ensemble with matching or coordinating accessories, such as a bridal katsura (bridal wig), a set of matching kanzashi (usually mock-tortoiseshell), and a sensu fan tucked into the kimono. Due to the expensive nature of traditional bridal clothing, few are likely to buy brand-new shiromuku; it is not unusual to rent kimono for special occasions, and Shinto shrines are known to keep and rent out shiromuku for traditional weddings. Those who do possess shiromuku already are likely to have inherited them from close family members.


A geisha's formal susohiki kimono, displaying a kurotomesode-type pattern on the kimono's elongated skirt Susohiki.jpg
A geisha's formal susohiki kimono, displaying a kurotomesode-type pattern on the kimono's elongated skirt

Susohiki (lit.'trailing skirt') (also known as hikizuri) are women's kimono with a specialised construction that allows them to be worn trailing, with a deep-set and widely-spaced collar. Susohiki are extremely long kimono worn by geisha, maiko, actors in kabuki and people performing traditional Japanese dance. A susohiki can be up to 230 cm (91 in) long, and are generally no shorter than 200 cm (79 in) from shoulder to hem; this is to allow the kimono to trail along the floor.

Susohiki are sewn differently to normal kimono due to the way they are worn. [55] The collar on a susohiki is sewn further and deeper back into the nape of the neck, so that it can be pulled down much lower without causing the front of the kimono to ride up. The sleeves are set unevenly onto the body, shorter at the back than at the front, so that the underarm does not show when the collar is pulled down.

Susohiki are also tied differently when they are put on – whereas regular kimono are tied with a visible ohashori, and the side seams are kept straight, susohiki are pulled up somewhat diagonally, to emphasise the hips and ensure the kimono trails nicely on the floor. A small ohashori is tied, larger at the back than the front, but it wrapped against the body with a momi (lit.'red silk') wrap, which is then covered by the obi, rendering the ohashori invisible. [lower-alpha 3]

Aside from their specialised construction, susohiki can resemble many other types of women's kimono in their decoration, fabric type, colour and sleeve length. The susohiki worn by geisha and their apprentices are formal kimono worn to engagements, and so are always made of fine silk, resembling kimono of hōmongi formality and above in their pattern placement and background colour.

The susohiki worn by kabuki actors varies by role, and so can appear as the humble clothing of an Edo-period merchant's daughter, as well as the fine silk clothing of a samurai woman. These costumes may be made of polyester, as well as silk, informal silk fabrics, cotton, linen or hemp. Pattern placement, colour and design varies by role, with many roles having costume designs preserved from previous centuries.

The susohiki worn by people performing traditional Japanese dance typically feature a bold design in block colours, as their clothing must stand out from the stage. Performers performing in a group wear kimono identical to one another, with the bold designs creating visual unity between performers.

Though the kimono is the national dress of Japan, it has never been the sole item of clothing worn throughout Japan; even before the introduction of Western dress to Japan, many different styles of dress were worn, such as the attus of the Ainu people and the ryusou of the Ryukyuan people. Though similar to the kimono, these garments are distinguishable by their separate cultural heritage, and are not considered to be simply 'variations' of kimono such as the clothing worn by the working class is considered to be.

Some related garments still worn today were the contemporary clothing of previous time periods, and have survived on in an official and/or ceremonial capacity, worn only on certain occasions by certain people.

There are a number of accessories that can be worn with the kimono, and these vary by occasion and use. Some are ceremonial, or worn only for special occasions, whereas others are part of dressing in kimono and are used in a more practical sense.

Both geisha and maiko wear variations on common accessories that are not found in everyday dress. As an extension of this, many practitioners of Japanese traditional dance wear similar kimono and accessories to geisha and maiko.

For certain traditional holidays and occasions some specific types of kimono accessories are worn. For instance, okobo , also known as pokkuri, are worn by girls for shichi-go-san , alongside brightly coloured furisode. Okobo are also worn by young women on seijin no hi (Coming of Age Day).


Pre-WW2, kimono were commonly worn layered, with three being the standard number of layers worn over the top of undergarments. The layered kimono underneath were known as dōnuki, and were often a patchwork of older or unwearable kimono taken apart for their fabric. Specifically-designed matching sets of formal layered kimono were known as o-tsui, and generally featured the same design presented on different background colours, such as white (innermost), red (middle layer) and black (outermost). [20] :42 The innermost layers, known as shitagi, typically featured the plainest decorative techniques, such as dyework only, and the successive outer layers would feature techniques such as embroidery and couched gold thread, with the outermost layer – known as the uwagi – displaying the most extensive decoration. [20] :45 These matching sets would be designed and created together, commonly as part of a bride's outfit for a wedding. Extant intact sets of o-tsui kimono are difficult to find, particularly in good condition, with the innermost kimono typically damaged and in poor condition. [20] :46

In modern Japan, at least one layer is typically worn next to the skin when wearing kimono. Traditionally, this would be the hadagi or hadajuban, a tube-sleeved, wrapped-front garment considered to be underwear, though in the modern day, regular underwear is sometimes worn instead, and a traditional hadajuban is not considered strictly necessary. A hadajuban is typically made of something more washable than silk, such as cotton, hemp, linen or some synthetic fibres.

For all forms of kimono except the yukata (excluding high-quality yukata dressed up as komon), a nagajuban (lit.'long juban'), often known and referred to as a juban, is worn over the top of any underwear. The juban resembles a kimono made of a lighter, thinner fabric, not uncommonly constructed without an okumi panel at the front, and often has a collar cover known as a han'eri sewn over its collar. The han'eri, which is visible at the neckline when worn underneath a kimono, is designed to be replaced and washed when needed. [36]

In modern-day Japan, layered kimono are generally only seen on the stage, whether for classical dances or in kabuki. A false second layer called a hiyoku (比翼, "second wing") may be attached instead of an entirely separate kimono to achieve this look; the hiyoku resembles the lower half of a kimono's lining which, and is sewn to the kimono horizontally along the back. A hiyoku may have a false collar attached to it, or a matching false collar sewn to the kimono separately, creating the illusion of a layered kimono at the neckline; separate false sleeve cuffs may also be sewn into the kimono to create this effect.

Kimono featuring hiyoku can be seen in some kabuki performances such as Fuji Musume , where the kimono is worn with the okumi flipped back slightly underneath the obi to expose the design on the hiyoku. The hiyoku can also be seen on some bridal kimono.


How to fold a kimono Kimonofold.jpg
How to fold a kimono

In the past, a kimono would often be entirely taken apart for washing, and then re-sewn for wearing. [22] This traditional washing method is called arai hari. Because the stitches must be taken out for washing, traditional kimono need to be hand sewn. Arai hari is very expensive and difficult and is one of the causes of the declining popularity of kimono. Modern fabrics and cleaning methods have been developed that eliminate this need, although the traditional washing of kimono is still practiced, especially for high-end garments.

New, custom-made kimono are generally delivered to a customer with long, loose basting stitches placed around the outside edges. These stitches are called shitsuke ito (not to be confused with kazari jitsuke, the small white prickstitching seen along the collar of kurotomesode). They are sometimes replaced for storage. They help to prevent bunching, folding and wrinkling, and keep the kimono's layers in alignment.

Like many other traditional Japanese garments, there are specific ways to fold kimono. These methods help to preserve the garment and to keep it from creasing when stored. Kimono are often stored wrapped in acid-free paper envelopes known as tatōshi.

Kimono need to be aired out at least seasonally and before and after each time they are worn. Many people prefer to have their kimono dry cleaned. Although this can be extremely expensive, it is generally less expensive than arai hari. This may, however, be impossible for certain fabrics or dyes.

Outside of Japan

Kimono are worn outside of Japan in a variety of circumstances. Kimono may be worn to Shinto ceremonies by Brazilian girls of Japanese descent in Curitiba, in the Brazilian state of Paraná.[ citation needed ]

Kimono are also worn by Japanese Americans, and by other members of the Japanese diaspora overseas. Kimono are collected in the same way as Japanese hobbyists by some non-Japanese, and may be worn to events such as Kimono de Jack gatherings. [18] [ page needed ]

See also


  1. The term kimono comes from the verb "to wear (on the shoulders)" ( 着る , kiru), and the noun "thing" ( , mono) [1]
  2. Rough crêpe fabrics are not used for iromuji, whereas smooth crêpe fabrics are.
  3. Video reference showing Atami geisha Kyouma being dressed in hikizuri – the second video shows the difference between ohashori length at the front and back, showing how it is tied into the obi so as to be not visible. [56]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese clothing</span> Japanese clothing, traditional and modern

There are typically two types of clothing worn in Japan: traditional clothing known as Japanese clothing, including the national dress of Japan, the kimono, and Western clothing, which encompasses all else not recognised as either national dress or the dress of another country.

<i>Yukata</i> Casual summer kimono

A yukata is an unlined cotton summer kimono, worn in casual settings such as summer festivals and to nearby bathhouses. Originally worn as bathrobes, their modern use is much broader, and are a common sight in Japan during summer. Though yukata are traditionally indigo and white in colour, modern yukata commonly feature multicoloured designs, and are designed to be machine washable. They are similar in appearance to the nemaki, a unisex short-sleeved kimono-like garment worn by guests at traditional inns.

<i>Hakama</i> Type of traditional Japanese trousers/skirt

Hakama are a type of traditional Japanese clothing. Originally stemming from , the trousers worn by members of the Chinese imperial court in the Sui and Tang dynasties, this style was adopted by the Japanese in the form of hakama in the 6th century. Hakama are tied at the waist and fall approximately to the ankles. They are worn over a kimono specially adapted for wearing hakama, known as a hakamashita.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zori</span> Flat Japanese sandals similar to flip-flops

Zori, also rendered as zōri, are thonged Japanese sandals made of rice straw, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, rubber, or—most commonly and informally—synthetic materials. They are a slip-on descendant of the tied-on waraji sandal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nightgown</span> Shirtlike garment intended for wear while sleeping most often used by women

A nightgown, nightie or nightdress is a loosely hanging item of nightwear, and is commonly worn by women and girls. A nightgown is made from cotton, silk, satin, or nylon and may be decorated with lace appliqués or embroidery at the bust and hem.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Petticoat</span> Skirt-like undergarment, sometimes intended to show, worn under a skirt or dress

A petticoat or underskirt is an article of clothing, a type of undergarment worn under a skirt or a dress. Its precise meaning varies over centuries and between countries.

<i>Jinbei</i> Traditional Japanese clothing set, consisting of a top and trousers

A jinbei (甚平) is a traditional set of Japanese clothing worn by men, women and children during summer. Consisting of a side-tying, tube-sleeved kimono-style top and a pair of trousers, jinbei were originally menswear only, though in recent years, women's jinbei have become popular.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bathrobe</span> Loose, informal garment worn after bathing or at home

A bathrobe, also known as a housecoat or a dressing gown, is a loose-fitting outer garment worn by people, often after washing the body or around a pool. A bathrobe is considered to be very informal clothing, and is not worn with everyday clothes.

<i>Obi</i> (sash) Belt worn with traditional Japanese clothing and Japanese martial arts uniforms

An obi is a belt of varying size and shape worn with both traditional Japanese clothing and uniforms for Japanese martial arts styles. Originating as a simple thin belt in Heian period Japan, the obi developed over time into a belt with a number of different varieties, with a number of different sizes and proportions, lengths, and methods of tying. The obi, which once did not differ significantly in appearance between men and women, also developed into a greater variety of styles for women than for men.

<i>Jūnihitoe</i> Historical layered clothing worn by Japanese court ladies

The jūnihitoe, more formally known as the itsutsuginu-karaginu-mo (五衣唐衣裳), is a style of formal court dress first worn in the Heian period by noble women and ladies-in-waiting at the Japanese Imperial Court. The jūnihitoe was composed of a number of kimono-like robes, layered on top of each other, with the outer robes cut both larger and thinner to reveal the layered garments underneath. These robes were referred to as hitoe, with the innermost robe – worn as underwear against the skin – known as the kosode. Hakama were also worn as underwear with the kosode; over time, the two would gradually become outerwear, with the kosode eventually developing into the modern-day kimono.

<i>Furisode</i> Formal kimono with long sleeves for young women

A furisode is a style of kimono distinguishable by its long sleeves, which range in length from 85 cm (33 in) for a kofurisode, to 114 cm (45 in) for an ōfurisode. Furisode are the most formal style of kimono worn by young women in Japan.

<i>Sokutai</i> Traditional Japanese outfit worn those in the Japanese imperial court

The sokutai (束帯) is a traditional Japanese outfit worn only by courtiers, aristocrats and the emperor at the Japanese imperial court. The sokutai originated in the Heian period, and consists of a number of parts, including the ho, shaku (笏), a flat ritual baton or sceptre, and the kanmuri (冠), a cap-shaped black lacquered silk hat with an upright pennon decorated with the imperial chrysanthemum crest.

<i>Kosode</i> Historic Japanese garment and the predecessor of the kimono

The kosode was a type of short-sleeved Japanese garment, and the direct predecessor of the kimono. Though its component parts directly parallel those of the kimono, its proportions differed, typically having a wider body, a longer collar and narrower sleeves. The sleeves of the kosode were typically sewn to the body entirely, and often featured heavily rounded outer edges.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Khalili Collection of Kimono</span> Private collection of Japanese kimono

The Khalili Collection of Kimono is a private collection of Japanese kimono assembled by the British-Iranian scholar, collector and philanthropist Nasser D. Khalili, containing more than 450 items. It is one of eight collections assembled, published and exhibited by Khalili, each of which is considered to be among the most important collections within their respective fields.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese clothing during the Meiji period</span> History of Japanese clothing throughout the Meiji period

Japanese clothing during the Meiji period (1867–1912) saw a marked change from the preceding Edo period (1603–1867), following the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate between 1853 and 1867, the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 – which, led by Matthew C. Perry, forcibly opened Japanese ports to American vessels, thus ending Japan's centuries-long policy of isolation – and the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which saw the feudal shogunate dismantled in favour of a Western-style modern empire.

<i>Tanmono</i> Traditional bolt of narrow-loom Japanese cloth

A tanmono is a bolt of traditional Japanese narrow-loomed cloth. It is used to make traditional Japanese clothes, textile room dividers, sails, and other traditional cloth items.

<i>Ryusou</i> Traditional clothing of Okinawans

Ryusou, also referred as ushinchi or uchina-asugai in Okinawan, is the traditional dress of the Ryukyuan people. Ryusou is a form of formal attire; it is customary to wear it on occasions such as wedding ceremony and the coming-of-age ceremony. The ryusou became popular during the Ryukyu Kingdom period. It was originally worn by the members of the royal family and by the nobles of Ryukyu Kingdom. The Ryukyu Kingdom was originally an independent nation which established trade relationship with many countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia; they held their relationship with China as especially important. The development of the ryusou was influenced by both the hanfu and the kimono, demonstrating a combination of Chinese and Japanese influences along with local originality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Miko clothing</span> Clothing worn by Mikos

Miko clothing is the clothing worn by miko in Shintoism.

<i>Meisen</i> (textile) Type of silk fabric

Meisen is a type of silk fabric traditionally produced in Japan; it is durable, hard-faced, and somewhat stiff, with a slight sheen, and slubbiness is deliberately emphasised. Meisen was first produced in the late 19th century, and became widely popular during the 1920s and 30s, when it was mass-produced and ready-to-wear kimono began to be sold in Japan. Meisen is commonly dyed using kasuri techniques, and features what were then overtly modern, non-traditional designs and colours. Meisen remained popular through to the 1950s.


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  36. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Juban". Kimonomochi: kimono collection. [for some reason the author used this abstract as the HTML title, so I've preserved it in the citation] Juban covers a wide range of undergarments which are worn between the silk kimono and the skin, to protect the delicate, expensive and often unwashable kimono from sweat and skin oils. Juban worn next to the skin are generally described as hadagi or hadajuban and need to be washable, so are cotton, hemp, linen or, more recently, synthetic fibers. Nagajuban are the outer layer of kimono underwear, and can be silk or synthetic, lined (awase) or unlined (hitoe). In summer, one can lessen the layers or just wear a han-juban (literally half-juban) with no susoyoke (skirt). The only part of a juban which is seen after dressing is the collar, which is removable so that a clean matching collar can be replaced at short notice. collars (eri) are a separate area, with many types, fabrics and levels of intracacy.
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"Kimono" in kanji