What is Japanese traditional costume?
The Japanese traditional costume is the kimono. This term was created in the Meiji period (1868-1912) as western style clothing entered Japan. This time, we would like to introduce Japanese traditional costumes, including their history before they were called kimonos.
The History of Japanese Traditional Costumes
The kimono originated in the Jomon period. Men used to wear a piece of cloth called kanpui, which was just a piece of cloth wrapped around the body, and women used to wear kantoi, which was a piece of cloth with holes in it through which the head would stick out. The upper half of the garment was made up of a tube-sleeved garment, while the lower half was made up of an ayui for men and a kinumo for women. The ayui is a trouser-like garment that is tied around the knees with a string. Garments are skirt-like footwear. In the Asuka and Nara periods, clothing was divided according to status. This was due in large part to the influence of laws and ordinances such as the Twelve Grades of Crown Rank. Since then, kimonos have continued to change with the times, and even today they continue to enrich our lives.
The Difference between Kimono and Western Clothing
The term "kimono" was born in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and did not exist until then. It was created to distinguish between the traditional garments used in daily life until then, which consisted of a long kimono and an obi sash, when Western-style clothes were introduced from the West.
Types of Traditional Japanese Costumes
There are various types of traditional Japanese costumes, and we will now introduce some of the most representative ones: kimono, jinbei, samue, and yukata.
Certainly, the kimono is the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the term "traditional Japanese costume. However, there are many types of kimono. Here we will introduce each type of kimono.
Types of Kimono of Japanese Traditional Costume
There are many types of kimono, but let's take a look at black tomesode, visiting kimono, furisode ( formal kimono ), and mourning kimono.
Kuro tomesode is the most prestigious formal kimono worn by married women. It is often worn at important occasions in life such as children's weddings and receptions. It is a black kimono with five crests and a pattern only on the sleeves. The five crests are placed on the back, behind both sleeves, and on both chests.
Homongi (Visiting Kimono)
The visiting kimono is a kimono that can be used for a wide range of occasions. It can be worn for both formal and casual occasions such as celebratory events and weddings. Its characteristic is the artistry of the pattern. Regardless of the seams, it is connected from the shoulders to the chest and sleeves like a single picture. Furthermore, the painted patterns range from classic patterns to modern Western flowers, making it easy to find a kimono to your liking.
Furisode (long sleeved kimono)
Furisode, as seen at the coming-of-age ceremony, is considered the most prestigious of all kimonos worn by unmarried women. The word "furisode" is derived from "waving sleeves," and it is characterized by longer sleeves than other kimonos. There are three types of furisode: large furisode, medium furisode, and small furisode. As the name suggests, the large furisode has the longest sleeves, while the small furisode has the shortest. The most prestigious furisode is the Daifurisode, but the Chufurisode is often worn for adult ceremonies.
Kimono mourning attire is generally worn by the bereaved family. It is usually black, including the obi (sash). Unlike other kimonos, mourning clothes are not meant to be worn on festive occasions. Therefore, to show an attitude of "mourning," avoid exposing skin as much as possible and dress modestly.
Kimono Patterns of Japanese Traditional Costumes
So far, we have introduced the different types of kimono, and the patterns used are also diverse. In this article, we will introduce the patterns commonly seen in kimono, divided into four categories.
Cranes are famous for their longevity, as in "cranes live for a thousand years, turtles live for ten thousand years. They have been a popular kimono pattern for many years in the sense of wishing for longevity. Also, because cranes often live together, they are considered to be auspicious as they represent marital bliss. It is used especially for wedding costumes and
Pine, bamboo, and plum
Matsu, bamboo, and plum are representative of good luck. Why is it considered good luck? Actually, each has its own meaning. The pine tree, with its leaves that never wither, is a symbol of longevity and life. Bamboo, which stays fresh and green all year round and grows straight with a strong underground stem, has the meaning of growth and prosperity of offspring. Finally, there is the plum tree. Ume represents perseverance and female strength because it blooms earlier than other flowers. Each of these patterns has a very auspicious meaning, and they are still popular for kimonos worn on special occasions.
Peonies, with their beautiful large flowers, are so graceful that they have been called the "king of the hundred flowers" and have been often used in kimono patterns since ancient times. The elegant and grandiose appearance of the peony flower also has the meaning of "happiness" and "nobility”. Kimonos with this pattern tend to have a luxurious and showy image. It would be perfect to wear to a glamorous place.
Cherry blossoms are the first Japanese flower that comes to mind. They have been loved by Japanese people since the Heian period (794-1185). Cherry blossoms are also known as an auspicious flower that symbolizes spring. It is also said that the paper of good harvest dwells in it, and it is a plant that represents abundance. Kimonos with such a cherry blossom pattern are recommended to be worn in spring. Many events take place in spring, such as entrance and graduation ceremonies. If you wear a cherry blossom patterned kimono with a sense of the season, you will surely be able to offer flowers to the event.
It is read as "jinbei." There is a theory that the name comes from the person who developed this garment, named Jinbei. It is a sleeveless haori, and its length is just enough to cover the knees. Because of its characteristics, it is often worn indoors in summer. It is a very lightweight version of the kimono and has long been loved as everyday wear.
This garment is called "samue”. It was originally used as work clothes for Zen Buddhist ascetic monks. In the old days, ascetic monks did a lot of physical labor, such as makiwari (splitting maki) and cleaning. Unlike the jinbei, the samue has long sleeves and long pants. Some samue can be worn all year round, not just in summer.
Many people associate yukata with summer festivals, Bon dances, and other summer events. Such a yukata was originally a garment often worn after bathing. The yukata is characterized by the fact that no tabi socks or other footwear are worn. The common style is to wear geta (wooden clogs) with bare feet. In addition, because it is shorter and more airy than a regular kimono, it is the perfect garment for hot summers.
In recent years, opportunities to wear kimono have become limited. That is why it may be a good idea to wear kimonos for special events such as coming-of-age ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, and summer festivals, and enjoy the special feeling of wearing kimonos. Many kimonos are available for rent, and you can enjoy a wide variety of kimonos. You can enjoy kimonos and events more if you choose a design that matches the event.