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20181205 Japan: KIMONO 

The word kimono is made up of the words „dress“ and „object“ and originally referred to any form of clothing.

The today known Kimono exists with small modifications

since the Heian (!) time (794-1185).

Until the opening of Japan and the associated adaptation to the West in 1854, the kimono was the main garment for Japanese and Japanese.

Nobility and warrior caste wore more elaborate, multi-layered kimono – citizens, farmers, artisans and traders more suitable for everyday use.

To date, the shape, material, pattern and color of the kimono social status and occasion can be read.

Today, many Japanese women rarely wear kimono and therefore need help with dressing.

On occasions like age, university graduation, weddings or other big celebrations you rent high-quality kimono and can be put on by a professional.

But also kimono courses are booming in Japan in recent years. Older ladies visit the opera or museums in the kimono.

Younger Japanese women meet for kimono challenges that set certain themes for the ensemble.
In Japan, for example, two areas have been established in recent years:

On the one hand, the kimono is an artful luxury item, on the other hand, a lively market for second-hand kimono has developed.

All kimono types show a simple T-shape when spread.

When kitsuke, the donning and wearing the kimono, it depends mainly on a cylindrical silhouette.

This form is currently considered particularly attractive. Body curves are padded and stretched accordingly.

Here it is clear: Not the physicality is emphasized, but the artistry of the garment.

A kimono ensemble consists of many individual parts. The following list only mentions the basics!
Components of a kimono ensemble


Kimono (outer garment)

obi (belt, artfully knotted on the back)

obi-age (a scarf that looks a bit out of the obi above)

obi-jime (narrow band tied over the obi)

white tabi-socks (with extra „pouch“ for the big toe) and zori- or geta-sandals (with wooden soles and thong) – to modern ensembles but also western footwear like ballerinas or boots is allowed


juban (undergarments, usually made of thin cotton, the collar of which shines slightly under the kimono, is worn over the underwear)

Auxiliary straps that keep the fabric of juban and kimono in the right place: date-jime (wide waistband, also available with a velcro fastener for those in a hurry), koshihimo (thin auxiliary ribbons), kōrin belt (rubber band with clips that prevents the neckline from unfolding)

obi-ita (stiff padding that gives the waist a straight shape)

obi-makura (foam pad that stabilizes the knot of the obi on the back)

obi-makura (foam pad that stabilizes the knot of the obi on the back)

Shape, pattern, colors, occasions
It is part of kimono etiquette to choose the shape, colors and patterns to suit the occasion and the season.

Many kimonos are decorated with seasonal nature motifs. For example, a kimono with a cherry blossom pattern would be worn in mid-March, just before the actual Hanami season in early April.

But there are also kimono that show plants from all four seasons and can therefore be worn all year round.

This also applies to geometric patterns.
There are several types of kimono that indicate the social status of the wearer, the level of formalism and the occasion.

Kimono variants

Furisode („shaking sleeve“) Kimono with long sleeves for young women, which is worn to important celebrations – the more colorful, the younger is the wearer)

Kurotomesode (kuro means black, the kimono is only decorated below the waist, above the obi he shows five mon 紋 (family crest).) Very formal, is worn by married women on festive occasions)

Hōmongi („Kimono for Visits“, also very formal, suitable for opera visits, for example, worn by married and single women, patterns placed in the shoulder area and below the obi)

Iromuji („monochrome“, often worn for tea ceremony)

Komon („small-patterned“, everyday kimono that can be upgraded with an elegant obi for even more chic occasions)

Hakama (pleated trousers, worn by men, in martial arts such as kendo, but also by young women to graduate school or in scarlet by miko priestesses in Shinto shrines.
Various weaving and dyeing techniques

Typical materials for kimono are silk for the transition seasons and wool for the winter.

Almost every region in Japan has its own tradition of kimono making.

Matsusaka momen is a cotton fabric from the city of Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture with 1500 years of tradition.

These kimonos are dyed with indigo and are reminiscent of denim.

Occasionally, unusual materials are used.

For example, kimono artists from the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa interweave the fibers of banana trees.

This substance is called bashōfu. Polyester kimono are very cheap and of course easier to clean.

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