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Sunday, March 17, 2013
1. A Brief About Kimono's
Amongst the traditional Japanese clothes that have long been
part of the local tradition, the kimono is the most famous one and perhaps the
biggest identity forming apparel of the country. Traditionally kimonos have
been worn by both men and women. The word kimono literally means
"clothing", it is also called
as Gofukuwhich means clothes of Wu and up until the mid 19th century it was the form of dress worn by
everyone in Japan.
Han Chinese clothing in fact influenced the earlier Kimonos of 5th Century. It
was only during the Heian period, the kimonos changed and became more stylized
about their designs.
Then during the period ofMuromachi, a single Kimono,Kosode, was worn. It was
actually considered an underwear before that time, and it was worn without the
trousers or divided skirt called Hakamaand held closed by a belt called Obi.
After this, during the period of Edo, the sleeves became
lengthy, especially among women who are unmarried. At the same time the Obi
also became wider and the style of tying
the Obi changed in distinctive ways. After this the essentially basic shape of
Kimono for men and women changed drastically.
They are worn now mostly on special occasions, people owning
perhaps only one or even just hiring them two or three times a year instead. Kimonois perhaps most unique wafuku. In the old times, both men
and women used kimonos as everyday costume, but nowadays only women wear it in
formal occasions. Men are seen wearing kimonos very rarely in Japan, only in
their wedding or other traditional ceremony. Women can wear kimono in various
occasions, starting from seijinshiki(japanese celebration that honors every
person that has turned 20 years old) ,
to omiai, or traditional tea ceremony.
There are different types of kimonos, worn by different
classes of people and on different occasions. Kimonos are available in
different kinds of materials as well. Kimonos range from highly formal to
casual. The extent of formality of a kimono is determined by its fabric,
pattern, and colour, as well as the number of crests in it. Having about five
crests (known as 'Kamon"in Japanese) on one's kimonos signifies the highest
level of formality. A kimono made of silk similarly signifies a high degree of
formality, while those of cotton and polyester signify casualness.
Tailoring a kimono is called wasai(和裁 means Japanese traditional dress making ) and it takes one to two months just to hand tailor a kimono, add
to that the time it takes for the textile art to be applied by various artisans
to the fabric and the fact that most are silk and you realise why a silk kimono
can cost as much as a small car and why the Japanese take such care of them and
expect each to be used by at least three generations.
1.1 The Basic Elements of Kimono:
In the old times, kimono had more layers of cloth than
nowadays. Court ladies were said to have up to sixteen layers of different
coloured fabrics. Kimono is made of only four strips of fabric - two for main
panels and two for sleeves. Thus the basic construction of kimono is rather
simple. However, making a kimono consumes more cloth than you would realize - about
of 30 centimeter
A kimono is composed of different parts with each of them
having their own names.
1.2 Kimono Textile:
Kimonos can be made of silk, wool, cotton, linen or synthetic
material and with most unique designs. One of the most famous kimono materials
is tsumugi, especially one from Oshima. Different motifs decorate the textile.
Some are sewn into the cloth, some are dyed. They are imprinted with the most unique designs .
1.3 Kimono Underwear:
With formal kimono, it is common to wear two (or sometimes more)
layers of traditional underwear. The first layers of underwear (against your
skin) is called hadajuban.
It protects kimono and second layers of cloth from sweat and provide warmth in
winter. Sometimes padding is worn underneath the hadajuban.
Over hadajuban, nagajuban
is worn. The purpose of nagajuban is to conceal the body shape and
make kimono look smooth when worn, and add little bit softness to the look of
An important part is missing from images above which is obi, the belt or sash. It is
usually tied just below the woman'sbosom. There are various obi that convey a
different message, as discussed further.
The purpose of obi is not only keep the package together, but also
to shape the woman's body so that the hip and breasts are not visible. If obi
itself isn't enough to do this, sometimes a towel is added under obi. A
cardboard or similar material is often added to smooth down the wrinkles of the
obi to make it look more smooth and give it support.
The height of the obi varies regarding woman's age marital status.
Obi is sometimes suggested to be a Japanese version of western corset, but this
is incorrect since obi is not that tight and also, as we realized, purpose of
obi is opposite from corset - to conceal feminine parts.
1.5 Additional Accessories:
There are many more pieces to the
kimono that may or may not be required, depending on the formality of the
occasion. Wooden sandals and special socks called tabi are often worn. Kanzashi
are decorations worn in the hair of female kimono wearers and often feature
silk flowers and small fans.The intricacies of kimono dress are numerous and
have many variations depending on the occasion or season.
1.6 Kimono Styles:
There are styles of Japanese kimono for
various occasions, ranging from extremely formal to very casual. The level of
formality of women’s kimonos is determined mostly by the pattern and fabric,
and also the color. The choice of which type of kimono to wear is laden with
symbolism and subtle social messages.
The specific choice relates to the woman’s age and marital status, and the
level of formality of the occasion. In descending order of formality.