What is Kimono? Types of Kimono (Japanese Clothing)

What is Kimono? Types of Kimono (Japanese Clothing)

What is kimono?

The word kimono( Japanese clothes) was originally created in the Meiji period (1868-1912) to describe Japanese clothing as opposed to Western clothing.

The word "kimono"

As western clothes permeated Japanese culture over time, the word "kimono" began to be used to refer to Japanese clothing and kimonos, rather than the general clothing that was originally meant to be worn. In the course of time, it came to refer to clothing used for kimonos such as haori and kimonos for kimono, etc.

Main Classifications of Clothing

Clothing in general can be classified into three main categories, which are explained in detail below.

Hangover type

Hangover type garments are those that are wrapped or hung on the body without being cut or sewn.

Kanto-i style

This type of garment is made by cutting holes or slits in the cloth and passing it around the head and arms to form a garment. Also known as a poncho style, it is typical of the clothing of the aborigines of Central and South America.

Makii style

The makii is a garment that is wrapped or draped around the body. Typical examples include the Indian sari, the Greek chiton, and the Roman toga.

Kangi type

The kangi type is a loose one-piece garment.

Kanpo style

Kanpostyle, also known as robe-shiki, is a one-piece garment that gently wraps around the body, and typical examples include Chinese clothes and European medieval brio.

Front open style

The open front style, also known as the kaftan style, is a style of clothing in which the front part of the garment is either joined or, in some cases, left open. Typical examples include the Turkish kaftan and the Japanese kimono.

Sakui type

Clothing made to fit the body by cutting and sewing cloth. It used to be more common in cold northern regions, but is also worn in warmer regions.

Close fitting clothes style

Also known as the shirt style, this style of clothing was used for men and women in ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia.

Cylindrical clothing style

This is a tunic style garment, and most modern and contemporary clothing is made in the tunic style. The hu-fu (hu clothes) of the Chinese ethnic groups are also a typical example.

The Kimono`history

The history of kimono can be inferred from excavated artifacts such as haniwa (clay figurines) that a certain form of kimono was already used in the Kofun period (burial mounds). In the Nara period (710-794), it is known that there were costumes that seem to have been influenced by the Chinese dress of the Tang Dynasty, and that there were differences in costumes depending on the status of the person. In the Heian period (794-1185), national culture flourished after the abolition of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty, and new costumes such as juni-hitoe and sokutai were born among the upper classes. The common people of the time seem to have settled on the style of a single kosode and waist belt, which later became the prototype for the kimono. After the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, with the rise of the samurai, the gap between classes faded and the kosode hakama, a combination of kosode and hakama used by the common people, became the common abbreviated costume.

The haori hakama considered formal men's attire today is a kosode hakama with a haori over it. In the Edo period (1603-1867), the shape of the haori became more complex, with longer sleeves and a longer obi, and patterns also began to appear, creating a gorgeous change in accordance with the Heian period. The modern furisode also began to be worn around this time. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Western style clothing gradually took root among people who had many contacts with Westerners, and to distinguish it from Western-style clothing, native Japanese clothing came to be called "kimono". In the Taisho period (1912-1926), women who still wore kimonos began to switch from kimonos to western style clothing, which interfered with body movements. Since then, from the Showa period to the present, the demand for kimono has decreased and it is used only for limited occasions such as weddings and funerals, but in recent years, a movement to re-evaluate the wearing of kimono can be seen in some areas, especially on the Internet.

Types of Kimono

Types of Kimono Kimono can be classified into three main categories: for adult men and women and for children, and those for adults can be divided into two categories: formal wear and everyday wear. Originally, there were no unisex items, but in recent years, haori has become more common, and there are also jinbei and samue for women.

Women's formal wear

Kimonos for women's formal wear include black tomesode, colored tomesode, furisode, visiting kimono, mourning kimono, tsukebake, and hakama. Kuro tomesode is considered formal attire for married women, and the pattern is arranged below the waist. Shiro tomesode is made of crepe other than black, and while kuro-tomesode has only five crests (dyed out Hyuga crest), shiro-tomesode may have three or a single crest in addition to the five crests.

Furisode is formal attire worn mainly by unmarried women. It can be classified into large, medium, and small furisode depending on the length of the sleeves, with large furisode used for weddings and medium furisode for coming-of-age ceremonies. The patterns are not limited to ebane patterns, but also include komon and plain patterns. Visiting gowns are made of crepe de chine, delaine, silk, or silk pongee, and can be worn by both unmarried and married couples. Although it is formal attire, it is considered everyday wear and is not suitable for formal occasions. Mourning clothes are plain black clothes with five crests made of habutae in the Kanto region and Ichikoshi crepe in the Kansai region. Some mourning clothes are called abbreviated mourning clothes, which are made of a base color other than black, such as rat, brown, or navy blue, with a black obi, and are used according to blood relatives and the type of ceremony.

Mourning clothes have been generally white since ancient times, but in recent years, black has come to be used due to the influence of Western clothing culture. The tsukebake is a simplified version of the visiting gown, and does not have a pattern. The major differences from the visiting kimono are the size of the pattern, the connection at the seam, and the use of a different fabric for the sori. Hakama were used as school uniforms in the Meiji and Taisho periods, and are still used as formal lower-body attire for entrance and graduation ceremonies. It is worn by both men and women.

Women's everyday wear

Women's everyday wear includes komon, which are small, all-over patterns of visiting kimono and tsukebake, pongee silk, and yukata, which are used for relaxing at home or during summer festivals.

Men's formal wear

Men's formal wear includes five-piece montsuki, black hachimonzie, ensembles, and vertically striped sendaira, etc. The lower half of the body is generally worn with hakama. When a man wears a black hanabutae as a formal black crested kimono, he wears five hinata crests. An ensemble is a set of long coat, haori, and hakama, and is called "otsuai" in Japanese name. In addition, the color of tabi (socks) for formal wear is white, tatami mats are used for zori (Japanese sandals), and the nose on the footwear is white for celebratory occasions and black for mourning.

Men's daily wear

Men's daily wear includes the colored kimono without crests made of fabrics other than black, yukata, samue, the work clothes worn by Zen priests for chores, jinbei, which became popular as home wear, tanzen, a winter jacket filled with thick cotton, also called dotela, and happi, often worn at festivals and other occasions.

Bride and Groom at a Wedding

For a wedding ceremony, the bride wears a white kimono, colored Uchikake, or Hiki-Furisode, while the groom wears a Montsuki Haori, or Montsuki Haori coat of arms. The groom, on the other hand, generally wears a montsuki haori hakama, and although the black montsuki haori hakama is considered the first formal attire, a colored one may be chosen to match the bride's outfit.


Although kimonos have become a minority item of everyday clothing, they are still traditionally used in ceremonies, festivals, and events such as weddings and funeral celebrations. In recent years, there has been a movement to reevaluate kimono, and you can discover something unexpected when you try to incorporate kimono into your daily wear.

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