A Look into Japanese Traditional Clothing

Share this blog on social media

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
A man and a woman standing side by side wearing a pink/white and grey yukata respectively, a form of tradtional Japanese clothing.

When it comes to traditional Japanese clothing, we usually only think of kimono. However, there are all kinds of traditional Japanese clothing. While some of them are not as popular as they used to be, many Japanese people still wear them on special occasions. Let’s learn more about other traditional clothing from Japan!

Kimono 

The modern kimono dates back to the Heian period (794-1185). They are made of textiles, cotton, linen, and silk. Depending on the type of fabric and style, the price of a kimono is also different. 

The cloth is around 12-13 m long, 36-40cm wide, cut into eight pieces and they are sewn together to create the basic shape of a kimono. The fabrics are stacked and fixed by the Obi.

Not only is it unusual from the design, but the process of wearing kimono also requires understanding of proper steps. It usually has only one size and the wearer needs to tie it to fit the body. 

Men’s kimono on the other hand, are usually dark blue of black. Instead of an elaborate pattern, they have a simple embroidery of their family crest. On the other hand, kimonos for women have many types depending on the person who wears it, time, event and location.

Different Types of Women’s Kimono

Furisode is for single young girls with bright colors and lots of decorative patterns on fine silk. The highlight of this kind of outfit is its long and wide sleeves.This type of kimono is usually worn during events such as the Coming of Age ceremony (January 20th) and graduation ceremonies in March and April.

A group of young women dressed in ornate, long sleeved furisode kimono with fur collars. The furisode is a form of tradiitonal Japanese clothing.
Furisode kimono is the most ornate kimono, and is formally worn by young, unmarried women. Image via Shutterstock

Tomesode is a formal dress for married women. Different from furisode, its sleeves are short and the main color in the body of the kimono is black. There might be simple patterns with elegant colors near the bottom of the kimono. 

Houmongi is for all women but is most commonly worn by married women. They usually wear them in tea ceremonies, family gatherings or ceremonial visits. The houmongi is similar to a beautiful painting as the patterns on it are all connected to create a big picture. In the past, Japanese parents usually considered Houmongi as a gift to their daughter when she gets married.

A woman wearing a soft, light blue houmongi kimono with an ornate gold sash.
Houmongi kimono are usually worn by married women. Image via Shutterstock

Tsukesage is usually worn at parties, flower arrangement, and friends’ weddings. It has a single and bright pattern running along the body and back of the shirt.

Komon is worn on normal days and is decorated entirely by small and gentle motifs.

Tsumugi is worn on casual occasions but with brighter and clearer, more simple patterns. 

A woman near Tokyo Station wearing a light green, casual tsumugi kimono, which is a form of traditional Japanese clothing.
Tsumugi kimono is worn everyday. Image via Shutterstock

Are you an enthusiast of Japanese culture but hardly get any chance to experience it? Check Sakuraco out! Sakuraco sends traditional Japanese sweets & snacks from across Japan to your door, so you can explore traditional Japanese taste at your most convenience!

Uchikake and Shiromuku

Uchikake is used as a jacket over the Japanese bride’s kimono on the wedding day. It’s usually red and designed with floral motifs, lovebirds, and cranes. In Japanese mythology, cranes are thousand-year-old creatures that symbolize longevity, bringing luck to couples. 

Today, most Japanese brides choose the white traditional Japanese uchikake dress, because of its pure and elegant beauty.

A bride and groom at a traditional Shinto wedding. The groom is wearing a black kimono and grey hakama, while the bride is wearing a white uchikake jacket and a white shiromuku kimono.muku
The uchikake jacket and the shiromuku kimono is an essential part of Japanese bridal clothing. Image via Shutterstock

Under the uchikake, the brides wear shiromuku – the most formal kimono in pure white.  Although simple, it has a deep meaning, which is to present the bride’s beauty in her purest form and to symbolize the beginning of a new journey. 

Shiromuku has a round tail and is long enough to reach the ground. It also comes with a white cloth headband called tsunokakushi.

Yukata

Yukata has a similar shape to kimono but uses cotton fabric, thin and light, easy to absorb sweat and bring comfort to the wearer. Thus, the yukata is worn by Japanese people during summer and spring due to warmer weather and for easier movement. 

Two women wearing yukata with their backs facing the camera. The one on the left is wearing red with a yellow obi sash, while the one on the right is wearing a cream yukata with a grey obi.
Yukata is a lighter, summer kimono that’s often worn at summer festivals. Image via Shutterstock

Nowadays, yukata at summer festivals or after bathing.. In the past, Japanese people wore yukatas as pajamas with simple seams and colors, today it has become a favorite summer outfit of Japanese youth, so it gradually becomes more eye-catching. 

In addition, yukata are also worn on the occasion of Bon-Odori, a famous Japanese summer festival. Japanese tourists can also see people wearing yukata at traditional local inns.

Hakama

Hakama are traditional Japanese trousers, characterized by their pleated, flowing legs. Though they were originally worn by woodcutters, hakama is a mainstay in Japanese fashion.  

A woman wearing a white furisode kimono with bright blue hakama pants.
Women usually wear hakama pants to their graduation ceremony. Image via Shutterstock

They are usually worn by men in most situations, and occasionally by women who are graduating from school, or participating in sports such as archery or judo.   However, there are also contemporary versions of hakama as well, and they can be worn with everyday Western clothing.

A man wearing black kimono and gray hakama pants, a form of traditional Japanese clothing.
Men usually wear darker hakama. Image via Shutterstock

Fundoshi

Fundoshi are traditional Japanese men’s clothing with a loincloth commonly worn by men engaged in manual labor. If you have a chance to attend the Hakata Gion Yamakasa in Fukuoka, Kyushu Prefecture, you might see men and boys wearing fundoshi during the festival’s activities.

A bunch of men at the "Naked" festival wearing white fundoshi loincloth--a type of tradtional Japanses clothing-- as they hoist wooden buckets.
The fundoshi is a tradtional Japanese loincloth. Image via Shutterstock

Hanten

A Hanten shirt is a type of clothing that is very popular among the Japanese commoners that started in the Edo period (1603-1867) and gradually became more widespread in the 18th century.

A woman standing in a river wearing a red, padded hanten winter jacket.
Hanten jackets are usually worn in the winter and are padded. Image via Shutterstock

Hanten is a type of everyday jacket by vendors or artisans in craft villages. This jacket has a collar sewn with black satin fabric, with a tie in the middle, suitable for everyone, regardless of gender. 

Because the Hanten shirt is quite thin, so to wear it in winter, people will braid a kimono bra both inside and outside to help keep the body warm. 

Happi

Happi shirts were formerly a kind of item for domestic helpers, proving they belong to a certain family. Later on, stores gradually used happi shirts to replace uniforms of the organization to present a collective. 

A group of men and boys wearing white happi jackets, at an Obon festival.
Happi is usually worn in the summer time. Image via Shutterstock

Happi shirts were originally made from cotton fabric in brown and indigo, but now to meet current fashion needs, the shirts now have more eye-catching colors. 

Which of these types of Japanese traditional clothing have you heard about? Have you ever worn traditional Japanese clothing before? Share with us your experience in the comment below!

Enjoy New Japanese Sweets, Snacks & Tea Every Month

Starting from $32.50USD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy New Japanese Sweets, Snacks & Tea Every Month

Starting from $32.50USD

Related Articles

A nighttime scene of Kyoto during the Kyoto Moon Festival. The moon is bright the sky is dark blue, and the machiya townhouses are red.

The Legend of the Kyoto Moon Festival

Every year, in Kyoto, they celebrate tsukimi. Though Kyoto is very much a modern place, it has retained a great amount of its pastoral charm. 

An autumn scene in a Japanese garden featuring leaves of red, green and gold.

Japanese Gardens: A Beautiful Stroll Through History

One of the best things about the fall is the ginkgo leaves in Japanese gardens and icho namiki (ginkgo avenues). We will walk you through the history of Japanese gardens and the best places for ginkgo tree viewing!