Japanese Silk Kimonos
History and Design of Kimonos
Travelers enjoy all aspects of a new culture from food to dress. There is nothing more beautiful thanJapanese silk kimono. Although kimonos are no longer the daily dress of Japanese women, there are special occasions when women, men, and children still don their best and probably their only kimonos. They are beautiful works of art.
Every period in Japan’s long history had its own take on the kimono. To an expert eye the period is known by the material and layers that made up the traditional costume. The kimono has gone through many subtle changes. Most kimonos that we see and admire in the movies are similar to the kimonos used for special events; festivals, martial arts, weddings, and certain holidays. Sumo wrestlers are seen in public in traditional kimonos.
Fabric for kimonos is one of a kind and the embroidery can be done in any color with any motif, although cranes are always a favorite. Fabric for the kimono can cost $15000.00 or more, and the obi’s (the material used as a belt/sash) $5,000.00 or more. Material, color, and embroidery are designed by specialize designers, although the basic shape of the kimono remains the same.
Even young Japanese, who like to wear the traditional dress of western weddings, may also have an additional ceremony where the marriage takes place with participants wearing traditional kimonos called, Uchikaka. Wedding kimonos are heavy because they are quilted. They are normally white with white embroidery. Although, they can be other colors as well.
Over the years, the designs have become more elaborate. Kimonos are belted with Obi’s, although the man’s obi is usually narrower than the woman’s obi. The obis are made to accompany the kimonos, but are their own unique color and embroidery design. Some fabrics are awarded “national treasure” ranking because of there beautiful and the artistic work that is required to make the beautiful designs. In earlier designs, the obis tied in the front, but as time went on styles called for the obi to be tied in back.
Hundreds of years ago peasants had burlap kimonos. The meaning of kimono is something to wear, but over the years it has become very specialized and expensive. The hierarchy and rulers of Japan’s Samurai’s household would wear kimonos as their daily dress and achieved a look that was a wonder to behold. These costumes were complex and took a dresser to help get the wearer into and out of their clothing. Even today, the average person needs someone to help them dress and arrange their kimono in the proper way.
Now that easy care fabrics are available, light weight inexpensive kimono are available all year especially for summer festivals. These are called Yukata. Originally used as a garment worn after a bath these can be seen on hot, Japanese nights on the streets of any city, especially during city festivals. Many have silk screen designs.
Used Kimonos, without obvious blemishes, make beautiful wall hangings. The colors and design are so beautiful and breath-taking that displaying them is a way to continue to enjoy them. Many westerners that have visited Japan take home used kimonos to decorate the walls of their home.
A Hapi coat is a short coat of light weight material. It is seen very often in summer festivals with logos of companies or professional groups. These were originally worn by household workers and would display a family crest and sometimes the blossoms that represented the family. They have long straight sleeves and come in a variety of colors.
Of all the cultural costumes in the world, the kimono is counted as one of the most beautiful.