There are few countries in the world that are as recognizable for their traditional garb as Japan and its famous kimono. Even today, when the country has become one of the most vibrant and fashion-forward places to visit, the kimono remains an important part of Japanese rituals and celebrations.
The kimono is one of the most recognizable articles of clothing in the world, intertwined in the Japanese culture and the character of its people.
It’s an elaborate type of formal wear consisting of layers of silk robes, obi, and various accessories. Each element is decorated in various styles, patterns, and colors depending on the occasion or season. A traditional kimono is typically handsewn.
While putting it on is difficult and time-consuming, the painstaking method is part of the allure and ritual of wearing the kimono.
History of the Kimono
It’s not surprising that the kimono robe is such a big part of Japanese culture as it has been around for around a thousand years.
The kimono’s roots extend back to the Heian Period spanning 794 to 1185 when tailors came up with the straight-line-cut kimono, which is a basic design that’s easy to make, practical, and comfortable. Throughout the Heian, Kamakura, and Muromachi periods, kimono design continued to develop with new styles, patterns, and colors being used.
In the Edo period, kimonos became much more elaborate with the entire ensemble consisting of three parts: the main robe, a sleeveless top worn over the robe, and split-skirt trousers known as hakama. The intricacies of kimono-making made it very precious with families keeping well-made kimonos as heirlooms.
When the Meiji Period rolled around in the late 1800s, Western influences slowly phased the kimono out of daily use and the Japanese began to use suits and dresses.
In current times, the Japanese no longer wear kimonos as part of their everyday wear. Instead, the traditional garb is reserved for special occasions, such as weddings, festivals, holidays, funerals, and other events.
Popular Types of Kimono
To a traveler’s eye, it may seem as if all kimonos are the same, but there are actually plenty of different kinds of kimono. Each one has its own unique qualities
For instance, the Yukata is a modern type of kimono that’s meant for casual wear. Made of lightweight cotton in typically bright colors, it’s often the kimono of choice for men and women during summers, festivals, or even just a hot day outside.
A more traditional and formal option is the Furisode Kimono, which is meant to be worn by unmarried women. It’s characterized by its long sleeves and vibrant designs, representing youthful energy. To many foreigners, this is the type of kimono that probably looks most familiar.
On the other hand, married women wear the Tomosode Kimono, a dress with fixed sleeves and the family emblem at the shoulders.
Iromuji Kimono is a silk dress known for solid, subdued hues, except for black and white. It’s one of the most versatile types of kimonos, suitable for both formal and informal occasions.
Experiencing The Kimono As A Tourist
Many travelers fall in love with Japan for its heritage and culture—and what better way to feel like part of this beautiful country than to don its national clothing?
In most of the popular tourist spots in Japan, tourists can rent kimonos and enjoy sightseeing in the country’s traditional garb.
Book a day tour of Kyoto with KKday and get dressed in your pick of kimono design and accessories. Wander through temples, gardens, and streets in an elegant kimono and commemorate the experience by snapping photos.