Over time, the kimono has come to be a T-shaped wrapped garment with set sleeve lengths, variations and a set way of construction. The plural of kimono is kimono, as Japanese does not distinguish plural nouns, though the English plural kimonos is also used. Kimono are often worn for important public holidays and festivals, and for formal occasions such as weddings and funerals.
The kimono is usually worn ankle-length, though women's kimono are longer as their kimono are folded at the hip. The collar is attached flatly, and always worn left over right (unless the person wearing the kimono is deceased). The kimono's sleeves reach the wrist, and variations of kimono may have sleeves long enough to touch the ground.
Kimono are tied with a sash called an obi, knotted at the back, though it is a series of ties called koshihimo ('waist cord/wrap') that actually keep kimono closed, as modern obi are too stiff to keep kimono in place. The obi is tied in a knot known as a musubi at the back, and there are many varieties of musubi based on formality, obi type and age. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear such as z?ri or geta, and split-toed socks called tabi.
Today, kimono are most often worn by women, particularly on special occasions. Unmarried women traditionally wore furisode ('swinging sleeve') kimono, with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions, though even their casual kimono would have longer sleeves with rounded edges at the front. In modern times, a woman generally only wears furisode to special occasions, and stops wearing furisode in her early 20s, married or not. Men wear the kimono most often at weddings, tea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions.
The people who tend to wear kimono the most on a daily basis are older men and women, geisha, and sumo wrestlers, the last being required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.
Chinese fashion had a huge influence on Japan from the Kofun period to the early Heian period as a result of mass immigration from the continent and a Japanese envoy to the Tang dynasty. There is an opinion that Kimono was basically derived from the Chinese clothing in the Wu region. 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 (1336-1573 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 Japanese began shedding kimonos in favor of Western dress in the 1870s. The Western clothes became the army and school uniform for boys. After the 1923 Great Kant? 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 clogs. Also, kimono produced by traditional methods have become too expensive for the average family. A common price for a kimono- and-obi ensemble is over $1,000, according to the Tokyo Wholesalers Association. Many cost far more. Even on some special occasions such as wedding day, an elaborate kimono is de rigueur, most people choose to rent one. The Tokyo Women's & Children's Wear Manufacturers' Association () promoted Western clothes. Between 1920 and 1930 the sailor outfit replaced the undivided hakama in school uniforms for girls. The national uniform, Kokumin-fuku, 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.
In the Western world, kimono-styled women's jackets, similar to a casual cardigan, gained public attention as a popular fashion item in 2014. Kimonos are also worn on special occasions such as coming of age ceremonies and many other traditional Japanese events.
Over time, the proportions of kimono have evolved differently for men and women. Men's kimono should fall approximately to the ankle, with no hip fold - the ohashori. A woman's kimono, however, should be as tall as she is, in order to allow the correct length for the ohashori to be formed. An ideally tailored kimono has sleeves that fall to the wrist when the arms are lowered; however, in informal situations, this is not strictly necessary, and indeed, kimono are worn casually by some women without the ohashori.
Kimono textiles can to be classified into two categories: Gofuku(), which indicates silk textiles in general, for luxuries and cotton/hemp Futomono() for everyday wear. Gofuku was named after ? (Wú) in ancient China, where the technology of silk fabrics originated from. Cotton clothing is called Momenfuku () whereas hemp clothing is called Asafuku () in Japanese. Cotton/hemp fabrics are generally called as Futomono (, Thick materials) as the fiber of these materials are thicker compared to that of silk. Till the end of the Edo period, tailoring of these fabrics were handled respectively at Gofuku store (Gofuku Dana) and Futomono stores (Futomono Dana), however, after the Meiji period, kimono was not worn as daily wear very often and Futomono stores eventually went out of business.
Kimono are traditional made from a single bolt of fabric called a tanmono, which varies in size and shape for both men and women. Tanmono are roughly 36 cm wide and 11.5m long for women, and the entire bolt is used to make one kimono. Some men's tanmono are woven especially long to include enough fabric for a haori, juban and kimono as well, as men's kimono can come in matching sets of the same fabric and colour.
The finished kimono consists of four main strips of fabric - two panels covering the body and two panels forming the sleeves - with additional smaller strips forming the narrow front panels and the collar. Children's kimono commonly consist of just three main panels, as only one width of fabric is needed for the body.
Historically, kimono were often taken apart for washing in separate panels, and were resewn by hand. Because of the standardised method of construction, and the fact that no fabric is wasted, the kimono can easily be retailored to fit the changing body, or indeed another person.
The maximum width of the sleeve is dictated by the width of the fabric. The distance from the center of the spine to the end of the sleeve could not exceed twice the width of the fabric. Traditional kimono fabric was typically no more than 36 centimeters (14 inches) wide. Thus the distance from spine to wrist could not exceed a maximum of roughly 68 centimeters (27 inches). Modern kimono fabric is woven as wide as 42 centimeters (17 inches) to accommodate modern Japanese body sizes. Very tall or heavy people, such as sumo wrestlers, must have kimonos custom-made by either joining multiple bolts, weaving custom-width fabric, or using non-standard size fabric.
Traditionally, kimono are sewn by hand; even machine-made kimono require substantial hand-stitching. Kimono fabrics are frequently hand-made and -decorated. Techniques such as y?zen dye resist are used for applying decoration and patterns to the base cloth. Repeating patterns that cover a large area of a kimono are traditionally done with the y?zen resist technique and a stencil. Over time there have been many variations in color, fabric, and style, as well as accessories such as the obi.
The kimono and obi are traditionally made of hemp, linen, silk, silk brocade, silk crepes (such as chirimen) and satin weaves (such as rinzu). Modern kimonos are widely available in less-expensive easy-care fabrics such as rayon, cotton sateen, cotton, polyester and other synthetic fibers. Silk is still considered the ideal fabric.
Customarily, woven patterns and dyed repeat patterns are considered informal. Formal kimonos have free-style designs dyed over the whole surface or along the hem. During the Heian period, kimonos were worn with up to a dozen or more colorful contrasting layers, with each combination of colors being a named pattern. Today, the kimono is normally worn with a single layer on top of one or more undergarments.
The pattern of the kimono can determine in which season it should be worn. For example, a pattern with butterflies or cherry blossoms would be worn in spring. Watery designs are common during the summer. A popular autumn motif is the russet leaf of the Japanese maple; for winter, designs may include bamboo, pine trees and plum blossoms.
A popular form of textile art in Japan is shibori (intricate tie dye), found on some of the more expensive kimonos and haori kimono jackets. Patterns are created by minutely binding the fabric and masking off areas, then dying it, usually by hand. When the bindings are removed, an undyed pattern is revealed. Shibori work can be further enhanced with yuzen (hand applied) drawing or painting with textile dyes or with embroidery; it is then known as tsujigahana. Shibori textiles are very time-consuming to produce and require great skill, so the textiles and garments created from them are very expensive and highly prized.
Old kimono have historically been recycled in various ways, depending on the type of kimono and its original use. Kimono were shortened, with the okumi taken off and the collar re-sewn, to make haori, or would simply be cut at the waist to create a side-tying jacket. After marriage or a certain age, young women would shorten the sleeves of their kimono, and extra material taken from kimono could be used to lengthen it at the waist, create an obi, or was used to patch similar kimono.
Kimono were also used to create dounuki, underkimono worn on top of the juban, and the material would show at the sleeve, hem and collar. Kimono were also used to create juban themselves, and after wearing layered kimono fell out of fashion, create a false underlayer - a hiyoku - was another use for old kimono. They could also be resewn into kimono for children.
Historically, skilled craftsmen would laboriously cut old silk kimono into strips roughly 1 cm wide to weave into obi, called saki-ori obi. The technique was a kind of rag-weaving, creating a mostly one-sided obi that was relatively narrow and informal. Saki-ori obi are prized for their craftsmanship and rustic quality today, as they would have taken many hours to create, and saki-ori obi often feature patterns of stripes, checks and arrows. The technique is kept alive to this day by craftspeople interested in rustic arts.
These terms refer to parts of a kimono:
A brand-new women's kimono may easily exceed US$10,000; a complete outfit, with kimono, undergarments, obi, socks, shoes and accessories can easily exceed US$20,000, with a single brand-new obi costing upwards of several thousand dollars.
However, most kimono owned by kimono hobbyists or practitioners of the traditional arts are far less expensive. Cheaper and synthetic fabrics can substitute for traditional hand-dyed silk, and modern-day brand-new synthetic kimono are sold as 'washable' and easy to care for. Some people make their own kimono, as kimono do not require a paper pattern or extensive fitting to sew, and can be made of whatever fabrics the owner wants.
Many kimono are also bought second-hand from vintage stores, a lucrative business in Japan, as kimono do not go out of fashion, though certain motifs and colours can be attributed to different eras. These can cost as little as ¥100 (about $0.9) at thrift stores in the Tokyo area, and the Nishijin district of Kyoto is also known for its pre-loved kimono markets. Even antique obi can retail cheaply, though they can be stained and fragile. Women's obi, however, mostly remain an expensive item; though simply-patterned or relatively plain obi can retail second-hand for as little as ¥500 (about $4.5), even a used, well-kept and high-quality obi can cost upwards of $300, as they are often decorated with embroidery, goldwork and hand-painted by craftsmen. Men's obi, even those made from silk, tend to be much less expensive, as they are narrower, shorter and less decorative than those worn by women.
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.
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.
Haruyo Morita ( Morita Haruyo) served mandatory apprenticeships studying and working as a kimono painter and designer until 1972 when she began paintings of women wearing beautiful traditional kimonos, sometimes in imagined settings, which became her signature style of art.
Yukata () A Japanese garment, a casual summer kimono, usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and unlined.
Furisode () literally translates as swinging sleeves---the sleeves of furisode average between 39 and 42 inches (110 cm) 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.
H?mongi () literally translates as visiting wear. Characterized by patterns that flow over the shoulders, seams and sleeves, h?mongi rank slightly higher than their close relative, the tsukesage. H?mongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear h?mongi at weddings (except relatives) and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.
Iromuji () are 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. It comes from the word "muji" which means plain or solid and "iro" which means color.
Edo komon (?) 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 h?mongi).
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 z?ri.
The completely black mourning ensemble is usually reserved for family and others who are close to the deceased.
Tomesode () is formal kimono for married woman. The feature of it is the short sleeve, the traditional main color of body is black, the lap of kimono has some simple pattern and elegant color. 'Tomesode' also has a family token and is usually used for wedding party of relatives.
Irotomesode () is single-color kimono, patterned only below the waistline. Irotomesode with five family crests are the same as formal as kurotomesode, and are worn by married and unmarried women, usually close relatives of the bride and groom at weddings and a medal ceremony at the royal court. An irotomesode may have three or one kamon. Those use as a semi-formal kimono at a party and conferment.
Kurotomesode () is a black kimono patterned only below the waistline. They 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.
Tsukesage (?) has more modest patterns that cover a smaller area--mainly below the waist--than the more formal h?mongi. 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 colour.
Shiromuku (, lit. "white pure-innocence") is a traditional, huge, thick, heavy, formal, ornate, brocaded, pure-white-on-white kimono, worn by the bride for a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding ceremony; a Japanese Shinto wedding dress. Comparable to a uchikake and sometimes described as just a white uchikake; a shiromuku kimono is worn for the formal solemn ceremony, symbolizing the purity and maidenhood of the bride coming into the marriage. The bride may change into a red kimono for the events after the ceremony for good luck. A shiromuku will also come with matching accessories, such as kanzashi, a sensu (see below), etc. Due to the expense of making a shiromuku, few own, or are likely to buy, a brand-new shiromuku kimono (those who do already own one are likely to have inherited it from close family elders); it is not unusual to rent kimono, shiromuku in particular, for special occasions; and indeed Shinto shrines are known to keep and rent-out such shiromuku kimono heirlooms for traditional weddings.
Worn with the shiromuku is a headdress called a tsunokakushi (, lit. "horn-hiding"), a headdress made from a rectangular piece of cloth, often made of white silk (to match the bride's shiromuku kimono), which covers the bridal high topknot (a Bunkin Takashimada), a kind of chonmage (a traditional topknot); they're traditionally worn to veil the bride's metaphorical 'horns of jealousy, ego and selfishness', and also symbolizes the bride's resolve to become a gentle and obedient wife. Alternately, the bride can wear a wataboshi (, lit. "cotton hood"), an all-white hood or cowl, worn as an alternative to the tsunokakushi, and the Japanese equivalent to the Western marriage ceremony's bridal veil; its purpose is to hide the bride's face from all others, except for the bridegroom, until the end of the wedding ceremony. It was adapted from the katsuki, a hood worn outdoors to keep away dust and prevent from the cold, by married women in samurai families, from the Muromachi to Momoyama periods, before being taken up by younger women from the Edo period onwards. Like the shiromuku its worn in concert with, the wataboshi is a symbol of innocence and purity; its worn only outside in outdoor receptions with the shiromuku-only, not with coloured wedding iro-uchikake kimono, or during indoor receptions.
The susohiki is usually 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 (4.9-5.2 ft) long, a susohiki can be up to 2 m (6.6 ft) long. This is also why geisha and maiko lift their kimono skirt when walking outside, also to show their underkimono or "nagajuban" (see below).
Hikizuri are also sewn differently to normal kimono, owing to the way that they are worn. The collar on a hikizuri is sewn further back into the neck, so that it can be pulled down lower without upsetting the line of the kimono; general tradition states that a young, unmarried woman wears her kimono collar a fist-size down from the nape of the neck, but hikizuri are pulled down much further than this, and the collar must be adjusted for this reason.
So that the underarm does not show when the collar is pulled down, the sleeves are set unevenly onto the body. The seam between the shoulder and the sleeve runs longer down the front than it does the back. When hikizuri are worn, the kimono is pulled up from the floor to the body diagonally, instead of keeping the side seams straight [note 1] - this emphasises the hips and helps the kimono to trail nicely on the floor. Because of this, the ohashori is tied unevenly, being longer at the back than the front, though it is usually tied up into the obi, and therefore not visible.
J?nihitoe () is an extremely elegant and highly complex kimono that was only worn by Japanese court-ladies. The j?nihitoe consist of various layers which are silk garments, with the innermost garment being made of white silk. The total weight of the j?nihitoe could add up to 20 kilograms. An important accessory was an elaborate fan, which could be tied together by a rope when folded. Today, the j?nihitoe can only be seen in museums, movies, costume demonstrations, tourist attractions or at certain festivals. These robes are one of the most expensive items of Japanese clothing. Only the Imperial Household still officially uses them at some important functions.
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.
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.
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 kimono 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 kimono 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.
In the past, a kimono would often be entirely taken apart for washing, and then re-sewn for wearing. 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. 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. Kimonos are often stored wrapped in paper called tat?shi.
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 but may be impossible for certain fabrics or dyes.
In June 2019, Kim Kardashian West launched a new range of shapewear called Kimono. West was heavily criticised over the name of the brand which critics argued disrespected Japanese culture and ignored the significance behind the traditional outfit. Following the launch of the range, the hashtag #KimOhNo began trending on Twitter and the mayor of Kyoto wrote to West to ask her to reconsider the trademark on Kimono. A Change.org petition was also created, which immediately began to receive global support. In response to public pressure, in July 2019, West announced that she would change the name. However, as of August 4, 2019, the trademark filings remain active. The campaign to protect kimonos from appropriation is currently being supported on a pro bono basis by international Intellectual Property and Entertainment lawyer, Aaron Mollin.
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