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Traditional Japanese Clothing for Women

Updated on April 8, 2015

Kimono For Women

In the present article we will review traditional Japanese clothing for women. As this are of Japanese culture is rich we have divided the topic into several parts. For men’s clothing see “Traditional Japanese Clothing for Men” article. Normally things to wear were called kimono in Japanese. However the meaning of the word “kimono” has slightly altered its meaning for Western world where it is more associated with a particular Japanese dress - a long silk ornamented garment.


Kimonos

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Beautiful Kimono

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Kimonos

Kimonos are no dresses as we from Western civilization are used to think about it. It does not have sizes. Japanese kimono is made of one piece of fabrics without any elaborate cut. Though there are many additional accessories that accompany a kimono. Also there are different types of kimono, each bears some special meaning and is relevant only for special occasions or seasons. There is always a philosophy in the color, accessories, and ornament of all kimonos. It is worth mentioning that some kimonos were originally means only for men, however along with the social development strict rules vanished. Among such kimonos were hakama and haori. Let’s now have a closer look at different types of traditional Japanese clothing for women.

One of the key elements of most women kimonos is a decorative sash “obi”. It is important to know that obi should not be tied in the front. According to Japanese tradition only prostitutes in the past used to do so. Apart for funeral ceremonies, kimonos have the left side wrapped over the right side. Formal kimonos for women are traditionally lined, and are made of silk, informal – of cotton and synthetic fabrics. Besides different types of women kimono their styles, colors, fabrics, and patterns vary per season. The brightest kimonos are the summer ones, the warmest - are made of flannel. Traditional Japanese clothing for women that are married in some features varies from that of unmarried women. Married women usually would wear muted colors or just black kimono at official occasions. However, such kimonos are normally slightly shorter and with shorter sleeves. Also kimonos for married women have patterns only below the waistline.

The main types of traditional Japanese clothing for women include:

Kimono Diagram

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Kimono for Unmarried Women

Furisode is a common clothing of an unmarried women in Japan. It is an official kimono for ladies. It can be of different colors and patters. The message of this kimono is that the woman wearing it is young and single. One of the most distinguishing elements of this kimono are its long sleeves. Kimonos for married women have shorter sleeves to be handier when doing housework.

Uchikake is a very bright and elegant kimono for brides. It is worn over the wedding garment. Its patterns usually are golden or silver flowers and birds.

Shiromuku is worn by the bride at wedding ceremony. This traditional garment is white. At this occasion the bride should wear all including the accessories of white color. According to Japanese philosophy white color is sacred and symbolizes purity. Also it means the bride is ready to “be colored” into the groom’s family traditions

Japan Deluxe Tour Kimono Fashion Show Pt 1

Kimono for Married Women

Kimono for Married Women and Other Traditional Japanese Clothing for Women


Tomesode is a kimono for married women. Tomesode can be of different colors. Also different tomesodes are relevant for different occasions. Tomesodes vary greately. For example it can have one or several crests (“mon” in Japanese) which change the status of the garment. For example a tomesode without a crest is informal, whereas that with five crests becomes the top formal dress.

Kurotomesode or Kuro Tomesode (“kuro” – meaning black) is the most official tomesode of a Japanese married woman. As its name indicates it can be only of black color. This kimono is mainly worn at wedding ceremonies by the bride or bridegroom close relatives. This kimono is strictly forbidden for other occasions and places (for example the imperial palace). Usually Kurotomesode has a bright and richly ornamented obi.

Irotomesode or (Iro Tomesode) is also a kimono for married women. It is not as strict as Kurotomesode and is less formal. However it can also be worn at wedding ceremonies but only by relatives not very close to the bride and bridegroom. It can be of different colors (tan, red, blue, etc.) – although not as light and bright as kimonos for unmarried women. Irotomesode is normally worn at the imperial place as well as gatherings and formal parties.

Other Traditional Japanese Clothing for Women

There are several kimono types that can be likewise worn by married and unmarried women.
Houmoungi (or homongi) means clothing for visits. It is a semi-formal Japanese traditional clothing. It can be of different bright colors. It is worn at tea ceremonies and at different festive occasions.

Tsukekage is of the same semi-formal status as homongi. It is of simple form, usually has flowers or patterns of summer or autumn seasons below the waistline and on one sleeve. It can be of different colors. This kimono is good both for informal and formal events.

Yukata is usually made of cotton and rarely is synthetic. It is traditional Japanese women clothing for summer. It is good for different festive events in summer. It has unlined cut. In the past it was normally of indigo color.


Modern Kimonos

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Folding Tomesode

Dressing Tomesode, a formal Kimono

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    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chen 

      6 years ago

      Thank you Katie :-)

    • profile image

      katie 

      6 years ago

      Like all of the info. Was very helpful.

    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chen 

      6 years ago

      Hi Jmarket and nifwlseirff.

      Happy to see you here and i'm glad you liked

      this Hub.

      nifwlseirff i hope you will have a lot of free time to do what you wantand also to master the art of folding Kimono :-)

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Well written, full of good info, including videos of folding kimono. I have still yet to master the art of folding kimono (let alone tying obi). Thanks!

    • Jmarket Staff profile image

      Jmarket Staff 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Very informative. I'd like to wear kimono one day, but it looks difficult to put them on, especially when making a knot with obi.

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