Ever wonder what a kimono is? Here is an answer from wikipedia. If you know more for it, please feel free to add to this.
The kimono (着物?) is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word “kimono”, which literally means a “thing to wear” (ki “wear” and mono “thing”), has come to denote these full-length robes. The standard plural of the word kimono in English is kimonos, but the unmarked Japanese plural kimono is also sometimes used.
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 an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).
Today, kimono are most often worn by women, and on special occasions. Traditionally, unmarried women wore a style of kimono called furisode, with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions. A few older women and even fewer men still wear the kimono on a daily basis. Men wear the kimono most often at weddings, tea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions. Professional sumo wrestlers are often seen in the kimono because they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.
As the kimono has another name, gofuku (呉服?, literally “clothes of Wu (吳)”), the earliest kimonos were heavily influenced by traditional Han Chinese clothing, known today as hanfu (漢服?, kanfuku in Japanese), through Japanese embassies to China which resulted in extensive Chinese culture adoptions by Japan, as early as the 5th century AD. It was during the 8th century, however, that Chinese fashions came into style among the Japanese, and the overlapping collar became particularly a women’s fashion. During Japan’s Heian period (794–1192 AD), the kimono became increasingly stylized, though one still wore a half-apron, called a mo, over it. During the Muromachi age (1392–1573 AD), the Kosode, a single kimono formerly considered underwear, began to be worn without the hakama (trousers, divided skirt) over it, and thus began to be held closed by an obi “belt”. During the Edo period (1603–1867 AD), the sleeves began to grow in length, especially among unmarried women, and the Obi became wider, with various styles of tying coming into fashion. Since then, the basic shape of both the men’s and women’s kimono has remained essentially unchanged. Kimonos made with exceptional skill from fine materials have been regarded as great works of art.
The formal kimono was replaced by the more convenient Western clothes and yukata as everyday wear. After an edict by Emperor Meiji, police, railroad men and teachers moved to Western clothes. The Western clothes became the army and school uniform for boys. After the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, kimono wearers often became victims of robbery because they could not run very fast due to the restricting nature of the kimono on the body and geta slippers. The Tokyo Women’s & Children’s Wear Manufacturers’ Association (東京婦人子供服組合) promoted Western clothes. Between 1920 and 1930 the sailor outfit replaced the undivided hakama in school uniforms for girls. The 1932 fire at Shirokiya’s Nihonbashi store is said to have been the catalyst for the decline in kimonos as everyday wear. Kimono-clad Japanese women did not wear panties and several women refused to jump into safety nets because they were ashamed of being seen from below. (It is, however, suggested, that this is an urban myth.) The national uniform, Kokumin-fuku (国民服), a type of Western clothes, was mandated for males in 1940. Today most people wear Western clothes and wear the breezier and more comfortable yukata for special occasions.
Various terms refer to parts of a kimono, as listed below.
Dōura (胴裏?): upper lining on a woman’s kimono.
Eri (衿?): collar.
Fuki: hem guard.
Furi: sleeve below the armhole.
Maemigoro (前身頃?): front main panel, excluding sleeves. The covering portion of the other side of the back, maemigoro is divided into “right maemigoro” and “left maemigoro”.
Miyatsukuchi: opening under the sleeve.
Okumi (衽?): front inside panel situated on the front edge of the left and right, excluding the sleeve of a kimono. Until the collar, down to the bottom of the dress goes, up and down part of the strip of cloth. Have sewn the front body. It is also called “袵”.
Sode (袖?): sleeve.
Sodeguchi (袖口?): sleeve opening.
Sodetsuke (袖付?): kimono armhole.
Susomawashi (裾回し?): lower lining.
Tamoto (袂?): sleeve pouch.
Tomoeri (共衿?): over-collar (collar protector).
Uraeri (裏襟?): inner collar.
Ushiromigoro (後身頃?): back main panel, excluding sleeves, covering the back portion. They are basically sewn back-centered and consist of “right ushiromigoro” and “left ushiromigoro”, but for wool fabric, the ushiromigoro consists of one piece.
Accessories and related garments:
Date eri or kasane eri
is a long retangular piece made to resemble a folded kimono collar. It is a decorative accessory used in women’s formal kimono styles between the collars of the nagajuban and the kimono to emulate the appearance of wearing an extra layer of kimono beneath.
Datejime or datemaki
(伊達締め) is a wide undersash used to tie the nagajuban and the outer kimono and hold them in place.
Eri-sugata or kantan eri or date eri
(衿姿) is a detached collar that can be worn instead of a nagajuban in summer, when it can be too hot to comfortably wear a nagajuban. It replaces the nagajuban collar in supporting the kimono’s collar.
(褌) is the traditional Japanese undergarment (loin cloth) for adult males, made from a length of cotton.
(下駄) are wooden sandals worn by men and women with yukata. One unique style is worn solely by geisha.
(袴) is a divided (umanoribakama) or undivided skirt (andonbakama) which resembles a wide pair of trousers, traditionally worn by men but contemporarily also by women in less formal situations. It is also worn in certain martial arts such as aikido. A hakama typically is pleated and fastened by ribbons, tied around the waist over the obi. Men’s hakama also have a koshi ita, which is a stiff or padded part in the lower back of the wearer. Hakama are worn in several budo arts such as aikido, kendo, iaidō and naginata. Hakama are often worn by women at college graduation ceremonies, and by Miko on shinto shrines. Depending on the pattern and material, hakama can range from very formal to visiting wear.
(袢纏) is the worker’s version of the more formal haori. Often padded for warmth, as opposed to the somewhat lighter happi.
(羽織) is a hip- or thigh-length kimono-like jacket, which adds formality to an outfit. Haori were originally worn only by men, until it became a fashion for women in the Meiji period. They are now worn by both men and women. Men’s haori are typically shorter than women’s.
(羽織紐) is a tasseled, woven string fastener for haori. The most formal color is white.
(法被) is a type of haori traditionally worn by shop keepers and is now associated mostly with festivals.
(ひよく) is a type of under-kimono, historically worn by women beneath the kimono. Today they are only worn on formal occasions such as weddings and other important social events. High class kimonos may have extra layers of lining to emulate the appearance of hiyoku worn beneath.
(肌襦袢) is a thin garment similar to an undershirt. It is worn under the nagajuban.
(長襦袢, or simply juban) is a kimono-shaped robe worn by both men and women beneath the main outer garment. Since silk kimono are delicate and difficult to clean, the nagajuban helps to keep the outer kimono clean by preventing contact with the wearer’s skin. Only the collar edge of the nagajuban shows from beneath the outer kimono. Many nagajuban have removable collars, to allow them to be changed to match the outer garment, and to be easily washed without washing the entire garment. While the most formal type of nagajuban are white, they are often as beautifully ornate and patterned as the outer kimono. Since men’s kimono are usually fairly subdued in pattern and color, the nagajuban allows for discreetly wearing very striking designs and colors.
(簪) are hair ornaments worn by women. Many different styles exist, including silk flowers, wooden combs, and jade hairpins.
(着物スリップ?, kimono surippu) The susoyoke and hadajuban combined into a one-piece garment.
(腰紐) is a narrow sash used to aid in dressing up, often made of silk or wool. They are used to hold virtually anything in place during the process of dressing up, and can be used in many ways depending on what is worn. Some of the karihimos are removed after datejime or obi have been tied, while others remain worn beneath the layers of the dress. The karihimo that is worn around the hips to create the extra fold or ohashori in women’s kimono is called koshihimo, literally “hip ribbon”.
is an ornament worn suspended from the men’s obi.
Main article: Obi (sash)
Obi (帯) is the sash worn with kimono.
(作務衣) are the everyday clothes for a male Zen Buddhist monk, and the favored garment for shakuhachi players.
(裾除け) is a thin half-slip-like piece of underwear worn by women under the nagajuban.
(足袋) are ankle-high, divided-toe socks usually worn with zōri or geta. There also exist sturdier, boot-like jikatabi, which are used for example to fieldwork.
(草鞋) are straw rope sandals which are mostly worn by monks.
(浴衣) is an unlined kimono-like garment for summer use, usually made of cotton, linen, or hemp. Yukata are strictly informal, most often worn to outdoor festivals, by men and women of all ages. They are also worn at onsen (hot spring) resorts, where they are often provided for the guests in the resort’s own pattern.
(草履) are traditional sandals worn by both men and women, similar in design to flip-flops. Their formality ranges from strictly informal to fully formal. They are made of many materials, including cloth, leather, vinyl and woven grass, and can be highly decorated or very simple.
In modern-day Japan the meanings of the layering of kimono and hiyoku are usually forgotten. Only maiko and geisha now use this layering technique for dances and subtle erotic suggestion, usually emphasising the back of the neck. Modern Japanese brides may also wear a traditional Shinto bridal kimono which is worn with a hiyoku.
Traditionally kimonos were worn with hiyoku or floating linings. Hiyoku can be a second kimono worn beneath the first and give the traditional layered look to the kimono. Often in modern kimonos the hiyoku is simply the name for the double sided lower-half of the kimono which may be exposed to other eyes depending on how the kimono is worn.
Old-fashioned kimono styles meant that hiyoku were entire under-kimono, however modern day layers are usually only partial, to give the impression of layering.
Kimonos range from extremely formal to casual. The level of formality of women’s kimono is determined mostly by the pattern of the fabric, and color. Young women’s kimonos have longer sleeves, signifying that they are not married, and tend to be more elaborate than similarly formal older women’s kimono. Men’s kimonos are usually one basic shape and are mainly worn in subdued colors. Formality is also determined by the type and color of accessories, the fabric, and the number or absence of kamon (family crests), with five crests signifying extreme formality. Silk is the most desirable, and most formal, fabric. Kimonos made of fabrics such as cotton and polyester generally reflect a more casual style.
Many modern Japanese women lack the skill to put on a kimono unaided: the typical woman’s kimono outfit consists of twelve or more separate pieces that are worn, matched, and secured in prescribed ways, and the assistance of licensed professional kimono dressers may be required. Called upon mostly for special occasions, kimono dressers both work out of hair salons and make house calls.
Choosing an appropriate type of kimono requires knowledge of the garment’s symbolism and subtle social messages, reflecting the woman’s age, marital status, and the level of formality of the occasion.
A young woman wearing a furisode kimono
(振袖): furisode literally translates as swinging sleeves—the sleeves of furisode average between 39 and 42 inches (1,100 mm) in length. Furisode are the most formal kimono for unmarried women, with colorful patterns that cover the entire garment. They are usually worn at coming-of-age ceremonies (seijin shiki) and by unmarried female relatives of the bride at weddings and wedding receptions.
(訪問着): literally translates as visiting wear. Characterized by patterns that flow over the shoulders, seams and sleeves, hōmongi rank slightly higher than their close relative, the tsukesage. Hōmongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear hōmongi at weddings (except relatives) and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.
Pongee Hōmongi were made to promote kimono after WWII. Pongee is used for casual clothes, so they are not for formal occasions no matter how expensive they are.
(色無地): single-colored kimono that may be worn by married and unmarried women. They are mainly worn to tea ceremonies. The dyed silk may be figured (rinzu, similar to jacquard), but has no differently colored patterns.
(小紋): “fine pattern”. Kimono with a small, repeated pattern throughout the garment. This style is more casual and may be worn around town, or dressed up with a formal obi for a restaurant. Both married and unmarried women may wear komon.
(江戸小紋): is a type of komon characterized by tiny dots arranged in dense patterns that form larger designs. The Edo komon dyeing technique originated with the samurai class during the Edo period. A kimono with this type of pattern is of the same formality as an iromuji, and when decorated with kamon, may be worn as visiting wear (equivalent to a tsukesage or hōmongi).
Main article: Mourning#Japan
Mofuku is formal mourning dress for men or women. Both men and women wear kimono of plain black silk with five kamon over white undergarments and white tabi. For women, the obi and all accessories are also black. Men wear a subdued obi and black and white or black and gray striped hakama with black or white zori.
The completely black mourning ensemble is usually reserved for family and others who are close to the deceased.
(色留袖): single-color kimono, patterned only below the waistline. Irotomesode are slightly less formal than kurotomesode, and are worn by married women, usually close relatives of the bride and groom at weddings. An irotomesode may have three or five kamon.
(黒留袖): a black kimono patterned only below the waistline, kurotomesode are the most formal kimono for married women. They are often worn by the mothers of the bride and groom at weddings. Kurotomesode usually have five kamon printed on the sleeves, chest and back of the kimono.
(付け下げ): has more modest patterns that cover a smaller area—mainly below the waist—than the more formal hōmongi. They may also be worn by married women.The differences from homongi is the size of the pattern, seam connection, and not same clothes at inside and outside at “hakke.” As demitoilet, not used in important occasion, but light patterned homongi is more highly rated than classic patterned tsukesage. General tsukesage is often used for parties, not ceremonies.
Uchikake is a highly formal kimono worn only by a bride or at a stage performance. The Uchikake is often heavily brocaded and is supposed to be worn outside the actual kimono and obi, as a sort of coat. One therefore never ties the obi around the uchikake. It is supposed to trail along the floor, this is also why it is heavily padded along the hem. The uchikake of the bridal costume is either white or very colorful often with red as the base color.
Susohiki / Hikizuri
Women dressed as maiko (apprentice geisha), wearing specially tailored “maiko-style” furisode kimonos with tucks in sleeves and at shoulders
The susohiki is mostly worn by geisha or by stage performers of the traditional Japanese dance. It is quite long, compared to regular kimono, because the skirt is supposed to trail along the floor. Susohiki literally means “trail the skirt”. Where a normal kimono for women is normally 1.5–1.6 m (4.7–5.2 ft) long, a susohiki can be up to 2 m (6.3 ft) long. This is also why geisha and maiko lift their kimono skirt when walking outside, also to show their beautiful underkimono or “nagajuban”
In contrast to women’s kimono, men’s kimono outfits are far simpler, typically consisting of five pieces, not including footwear.
Men’s kimono sleeves are attached to the body of the kimono with no more than a few inches unattached at the bottom, unlike the women’s style of very deep sleeves mostly unattached from the body of the kimono. Men’s sleeves are less deep than women’s kimono sleeves to accommodate the obi around the waist beneath them, whereas on a woman’s kimono, the long, unattached bottom of the sleeve can hang over the obi without getting in the way.
Jin-Haori – Kimono tabards for armoured Samurai
In the modern era, the principal distinctions between men’s kimono are in the fabric. The typical men’s kimono is a subdued, dark color; black, dark blues, greens, and browns are common. Fabrics are usually matte. Some have a subtle pattern, and textured fabrics are common in more casual kimono. More casual kimono may be made in slightly brighter colors, such as lighter purples, greens and blues. Sumo wrestlers have occasionally been known to wear quite bright colors such as fuchsia.
The most formal style of kimono is plain black silk with five kamon on the chest, shoulders and back. Slightly less formal is the three-kamon kimono.