The Japanese kimono, which literally translates to “something that is worn,” is one of the world’s instantly recognizable traditional garments. There are many types of kimono worn depending on the occasion, as well as various patterns and colors to match the different seasons.
Kimono parts and accessories
There are several elements involved when wearing a kimono and it’s important to know the pieces. The following are some of the main parts involved in wearing a kimono:
・Kimono – the basis of the kimono is, of course, the kimono robe itself. It can be made from a variety of materials including cotton, linen, wool, and silk.
・Obi – the outermost sash that is tied around a kimono. The knot can be tied in a variety of decorative ways. Often, the pattern of Obi is as important as the kimono pattern.
・Koshi-himo – this is like a sash for the waist; it is tied at the waist to secure the kimono in place before tying the more complicated obi. These silk, wool or soft cotton cords are not actually seen since they are under the obi.
・Nagajuban – basically the undershirt, or slip, of the kimono dress. Shaped like a kimono, these garments protect the colorful (and often expensive) kimono which are difficult to clean. Therefore, it’s necessary to wear an undergarment to protect the kimono from sweat and then wash it as necessary to keep the kimono clean.
・Datejime – a belt that is fastened over the kimono, but under the obi, which helps the obi keep its shape.
・Tabi – Socks made specifically to be worn with traditional Japanese footwear. The toe area is split into two sections.
・Geta/zori – These are some of the traditional types of footwear worn with kimono. They somewhat resemble modern sandals. Zori are made from rice straw or lacquered wood and are worn with a kimono on formal occasions. Geta are raised wooden clogs and are worn with the informal yukata.
Different types of kimono
As mentioned before, there are several types of kimono that could be worn on different occasions. From a very formal kimono to a wedding kimono, it is really important to wear the proper style and color in Japanese society.
Yukata and Komon Kimono
One of the most important things to know for tourists is to distinguish kimono from yukata.
First is the material – kimono are usually made of silk or brocade, has an inner and outer layer, and is worn with at least two collars. They can be worn all year-round and have different seasonal styles – unlined in summer, lined in autumn and spring, and padded in winter.
Yukata instead is the more casual and inexpensive garment that is typically made of cotton and meant for wearing in the summer. Because yukata are less formal, people often experiment with colors, patterns, and accessories.
Komon is also known as casual kimono with a repeating pattern that often incorporates vertical stripes. It is suited for a stroll around the town and is the most common kimono that you can rent and choose among a variety of colorful designs.
A furisode is a type of kimono generally worn by young and unmarried women. It is often worn at coming of age ceremonies (celebrations of young people turning 20 years old). The unique point of a furisode is the length of the sleeves. A furisode has long sleeves that hang down. It’s not often used for walking around town.
Houmongi and Tomesode
The literal meaning of houmongi is “visiting wear” and it is a formal kimono with a pattern that flows over the shoulder to the seams in the back and is visible on the sleeves and under the waist. This is a popular choice to wear for ceremonies and kabuki shows.
Tomesode is the most formal kimono and the pattern is always below the waist and has a beautiful design which sometimes includes gold. It has either 3 or 5 crests, the latter being more formal, and there are color or plain black varieties. Tomesode is generally worn by married women for important ceremonies.
Hakama is a pant-like garment worn over a kimono, affixed by a series of strings that are wrapped about the body and then tied at the back. Other than tabi, this can be also worn with boots.
Hakama were mainly worn by men in the past as they made it possible for people to ride horses and run easily, but they were not exclusively worn by men. In the Showa era, it was actually commonly worn by women as well, due to different movements that arose by the developing times and influence of western clothes. Hakama is also worn by both the men and women that:
- work at shrines
- participate in kendo, kyudo (Japanese archery), aikido and other martial arts
- take part in the card game called “hyaku nin isshu”
- do calligraphy tournaments