Kimono: Wind and Water Made Wearable
"Kimono" means "clothing" in Japanese
The kimono is the wrapped-and-tied, robe-like garment that is the national costume for Japan. While they may seem like simple robes to many people, there are lots of subtle variations to how these garments are sewn, decorated and fastened that actually make them very complex.
Whether your kimono interest is historical, theatrical, fashionable or textile, this lens has something for you! Learn about how to wear kimono, find vintage kimonos and obis, learn how to tie an obi and more.
Books on Kimono - It helps to have at least one good reference
The kimono is a unisex garment, with sleeve cut, color choice and fabrics, and the manner in which the obi is tied all handling the specialties of social occasion, gender, class and marital status. One thing to note is that men's kimono have sleeves that end with a square shape, women's and children's are rounded. The more circular the sleeve ending, the younger the person the kimono was intended for.
Highly specialized kimono dressers charge hundreds of dollars to provide formal kimono and dress men and women for very fancy social occasions. Most Japanese who chose to regularly dress in kimono do so after completing elaborate educational classes.
The symbolism of the kimono is rivaled only by the various underpinnings and procedures it takes to wear one. Once a Japanese friend arrived at an art opening, dressed in a lovely formal kimono. She saw me and a mutual friend and rushed over to us. "Hey, I got myself dressed tonight.... and it only took 45 minutes!" The wrapping and tying of an obi can often take more than one person, unless you know what you are doing.
Buying Vintage Kimonos
The trick with getting kimonos online or at auction is to get a true evaluation of the condition of the garment and the fabric. You will find kimono in silk, rayon and cotton. Hand-painting and hand-dyeing add more to the value of the garment than commercially printed fabrics as will embroidery.
The more reputable sellers will have close-up photos and notes of any flaws, stains or wear that exist on the garment, the better to present a true description of its condition.
The longer the sleeve on a kimono, the more formal the garment is considered. Brides wear the longest sleeves of all. All kimono are wrapped left over right, the reverse only ever being used when dressing the dead!
- chuburisode - medium sleeves, approx 90 cm.
- furisode - brightly colored, patterned kimono with long sleeves worn by young women.
- furisode uchikake - a brightly colored unbelted kimono worn over a white bridal kimono.
- homongi - "visiting kimono" - these are worn for non-formal occasions, and traditionally have an asymmetrical pattern that crosses from the side seams to the back hem.
- iro tomesode - a brightly colored kimono worn by married women, it's less formal than kuro tomesode.
- kofuisode - short sleeves, approx 75 cm.
- kuro tomesode - the most formal kimono worn by a married woman, it is black with five white crests on it.
- obi - a wide sash, elaborately tied, that fastens a kimono.
- oburisode - full sleeves, approx 105 cm.
- shiromuku - the all-white bridal kimono.
- wafuku - traditional clothing.
- yofuku - Western clothing.
Buying Vintage Obi
Obi are the elaborate sashes and ties worn to belt a kimono. You will want to take classes if you really want to know how to tie an obi properly. They are many-layered and wind up being almost as stiff as a corset in the more elaborate forms.
An obi should contrast with your kimono, not match it. And it gets tied in the back. When you see an image of a woman in historical paintings with her obi tied in the front, it means the person shown is a prostitute, the belief being that she spends so much time on her back, she can't tie her obi that way.
One of the blessings of the modern obi is the version that comes pre-tied. Sort of like a clip-on tie, this allows women to have the look of a more formal kimono obi, but in a fraction of the time. Most often these come in two pieces, one being the waist sash part and the second being the pre-tied arrangement that goes in back. These are most often worn with summer kimono, also called yukata, which are worn more casually.
Some of these videos show people getting dressed in kimono and some show the finished look. There are even a few that show men's kimono.
- KIMONO ENCYCLOPAEDIA - KIMONO
Over 55 pages of kimono pictures, kimono style descriptions, kimono history, kimono fashion competitions, places to buy kimonos and articles relating to kimonos.
- Japanese Culture - Costume - Kimono
The kimono, which literally means "clothing", is one of the world's instantly recognizable traditional garments. Thanks to the popularity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the West at the beginning of this century, the kimono-clad maiden became one of t
- About Japan: The Kimono Page
The traditional form of clothing worn in Japan is generally referred to as kimono. The term, which means simply "Japanese style clothing", is used today to differentiate this style of attire from yofuku, the western-style garments most contemporary J
- Kimono Hypertext: History
From the primitive Jomon period through the Yamato, Asuka, Nara, Heian, Muromachi, and Edo periods, factors including climate, life and customs of the Imperial court, laws, the development of skills in weaving and dyeing, and the availability of mate
- Virtual Kimono - Kimono - Kids Web Japan - Web Japan
Welcome to the Virtual Kimono Dressing Room! Here you'll be able to match kimonos with obi and other accessories to create a coordinated look. After you have put together your outfit, you will see a picture of the kimono in a setting where it is usua
- Weaving and the Japanese Kimono - All Fiber Arts
Kimonos date back to 300 A.D. (the Jomon period) and were were made of hemp. The Chinese introduced the raising of silk worms to Japan in the Yamato period (300 - 550 A.D.)....
- Kimono for Men
When a man dons a kimono he will feel masterly, perhaps infused with the samurai spirit to realize his fullest potential. We recently invited two leading figures in the Japanese fashion industry to discuss the concept of kimono for men and what makes
- Kimono Buying Guide
Note that this guide only deals with buying kimono in Japan. When you get to go there, you may want to bring one back, either for wearing or as wall hanging, souvenir, or for using the fabric to make something else out of it.
- BLACK MOON - Traditional and Contemporary Kimono.
A look at kimono, the traditional clothing of Japan. With a web page "kimono exhibit."
My Favorite Kimono-Oriented Event
Seattle's Annual Bon Odori Festival
Bon Odori is a part of the Japanese Buddhist festival of Obon, which honors the ancestors and the dead. At the more celebratory part of the two-day gathering, there are displays of traditional music, arts and clothing. And for several hours each day, ritualized line dances are conducted in the street outside the temple. The public is welcome to join in, and you can follow along with special dance masters who stand where lots of people can see them and you can just watch them and follow along.
Depending on location, Bon Odori (also called O-Bon) can take place in July or August. Check with your local Buddhist temple for their schedule of events.
Seattle Bon Odori - I try to attend this colorful festival each summer. Most often, Seattle's Bon Odori takes place the third weekend in July. You can get the exact dates and more details at the Seattle Betsuin site.
- KIMONO COLLECTION
About Kimono, worn by both adults and children
- "Kimono" Collection
Marubeni official web site. This page offers you information about paintings by famous artists and beatiful kimonos owned by us.
- The Enchanting New Collection from Chocolat Moderne!
Stunning chocolates designed to look like kimono textiles and including traditional Japanese ingredients/flavors! These are too cute...
- Kimono Collection from Hoffman Fabrics - Erica's Craft & Sewing Center
Erica's has a wide selection of fabrics, including selected fabrics from Moda, RJR, and Hoffman
- Japan Style Kids Kimono Collection 2006
Kids clothes that are inspired by and incorporate kimono.