着物 Kimono (Japanese traditional garment)

Some time ago, a word “Kimono” meaned simply a “thing to wear (ki “wear” and mono “thing”). In Meiji period (1868 - 1912), European clothes came to Japan. Japanese people use the words, 洋服 (Yo Fuku, European clothes) and 和服 (Wa Fuku, Japanese traditional clothes) to distinguish them. At the present day, people in the world know a word “Kimono” meaning to Wa Fuku.
Kimono are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial) and secured by a sash called Obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially Zori or Geta) and split-toe socks (Tabi).
Today, Kimono are worn on special occasions, Wedding ceremony, Coming-of-age ceremony, etc... But there are many people who loves Kimono and wears it on a daily basis. Professional Sumo wrestlers are often seen in the Kimono because they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.

[Kimono Accessory]

帯 Obi (Sash)

Obi is a sash for traditional Japanese dress. Obi for men’s Kimono is rather narrow, 10 cm wide at most, but a woman’s formal Obi can be 30 cm wide and more than 4 m long. Woman’s wide and decorative Obi does not keep Kimono closed; this is done by different undersashes and ribbons worn underneath Obi. Obi itself often requires the use of stiffeners and ribbons for definition of shape and decoration. Obis are categorized by their design, formality, material, and use. In these days, Obis reuse for the decoration.

[kinds of Kimono]

留袖 Tomesode

Tomesode is a type of Kimono. It is an expensive formal dress worn by married women, corresponding to Evening dress in Europe. Tomesode distinguishes itself from other Kimono by only having patterns under the waistline. It has five or sometimes three family crests (Ka Mon) which indicate the formality of Kimono.
Kuro-Tomesode (Black Tomesode) are often worn for wedding ceremonies by married female relatives of the bride or groom. It is believed that the black color is to match the clean white color of the bride, as this Kimono is rarely used at other occasions than weddings of near family members (mother, sisters or daughters). A friend of the bride or groom would not wear Kuro-Tomesode, but Homongi or Iro-Tomesode. At events at the imperial palace, it is strictly forbidden to wear Kuro-Tomesode, and here Iro-Tomesode is worn. Because, it says that black is a mourning color in the imperial palace.
Iro-Tomesode (Tomesode with colors) is the second most formal Kimono and is similar to Kuro-Tomesode, except that it has light colors instead of being black. It can be worn at weddings by married women not closely relate to the bride or groom or at the other festive occasions.

 

振袖 Furisode

Furisode is a style of Kimono distinguishable by its long sleeves, which range length from 85 cm for Ko Furisode (Small) to 114 cm for O Furisode (Big). Furisode is the most formal style of Kimono worn by unmarried women in Japan. Furisode is made of very fine, brightly colored silk, and is commonly rented or bought by parents for their daughters to wear when celebrating Comin-of-age day the year they turn 20. By wearing Furisode, a young woman signifies that she is both single and a legal adult, and thus available for marriage. Furisode is generally worn for the formal social functions such as the tea ceremony or wedding ceremonies.

訪問着 Homongi

Homongi replaces the role of Furisode when a woman marries. It is given to the woman, when she marries, to signify her womanhood has transcended into a married life. It is less colorful and attention-drawing than Kimono of unmarried women, but it can be worn by unmarried women too. Directly translated Homongi means “visiting wear” and it was very popular among the upper-class women in Meiji period to wear as a formal dress for going out. Homongi is the most ostentatious Kimono for married women and the second most for unmarried women. Usually, Homongi are worn to tea ceremonies and wedding ceremonies. Homongi is characterized by flamboyant and colorful pattern running continuously over the seams. The sleeve length varies and unmarried women wear longer sleeves. 

 

白無垢 Shiromuku

A color white was used for parament as a holy color. From the end of Muromachi period to Edo period, Shiromuku is for wedding, parturition, funeral rites or Seppuku. In Meiji period, the European custom came into Japan, a color black has been used for funeral rites and a color white has been used for wedding.

浴衣 Yukata

Yukata is a Japanese garment, a casual summer Kimono usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and unlined. Yukata are worn by both men and women. Like other forms of Kimono, Yukata are made with straight seams and wide sleeves. Men’s Yukata are distinguished by the shorter sleeve extension of approximately 10 cm from the armpit seam, compared to the longer 20 cm sleeve extension in women’s Yukata.

Thus, although their use is not limited to after-bath wear.Yukata are worn at outdoor summer events such as Hanabi (Fireworks) or Bon-odori (Dancing) festivals. They are also worn at Japanese Inns (Ryokan) afther bathing. Many hotels in Japan prepare Yukata in a room as night cloth.

[Kimono Fabric]

友禅 Yuzen

Yuzen is one of the popular traditional dyeing techniques in Japan. MIYAZAKI Yuzen-sai (1654 ? - 1736), an artist of fan painting, had started to dye by a technique of Yuzen in Kyoto. Yuzen came from his name, Yuzen-sai. Originally, Dyeing by hand-writhing was only called Yuzen, but nowadays, stencil dyeing or printing patterns with Yuzen styles are also called Yuzen. It is the most representative dyeing in Japan. In particular, Kyo Yuzen (in Kyoto) and Kaga Yuzen (Kanazawa-city, Ishikawa) are famous. Yuzen is very beautiful and elegant with the traditional or natural motifs. The clothes dyed by Yuzen turn to not only Kimono but also many articles like the decorations that adorn the walls.



西陣織 Nishijin Ori (Nishijin fabric)

Nishijin is a district in Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto. Nishijin Ori (Nishijin fabric) is a traditional textile produced there. Nishijin Ori was created over 1,200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together in decorative designs. During Edo period, Nishijin Ori continued to thrive. Many Japanese studied the art and continued to pass down their trade through the generations by the skilled professionals. But, there was an abrupt stop to the Nishijin trade due to produce unavailability because of unproductive crops until 1837.
Kyoto had fallen on hard times and Japan had decided to change their capital in 1869 and announced that Tokyo was the chosen location. This was the end of Nishijin trade. In the years to come the Nishijin trade began to flourish once again. Starting in 1872 with the trip to Europe to learn from the European weaving trade. During this trip the Europeans taught Japanese new techniques. The Japanese adapted to the use of European methods and machinery. By 1898 the Nishijin Textile trade was developed and encompassed the technology shared by the Europeans. This marked a beginning of a new era of Nishijin Ori and implemented the use of machinery in the Japanese trade. Nishijin has continued to be a successful textile industry throughout the years.
Today Nishijin Ori is seen more frequently in Japanese ceremonies. The main ceremony to view this unique trade would be in a wedding. The work of the Nishijin Ori is present in the traditional clothing of the bride. Her traditional Kimono is beautiful and shows the Nishijin designs that have been handed down through the generations. These traditional designs range from scenes of nature, different breeds of birds and several different type of flowers. There are many other products available through Nishijin Ori. These products range from Kimono, belts, shawls, many different types of cloth and decorations that adorn the walls.

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