The kimono (きもの/着物) is a traditional Japanese garment, and the national dress of Japan. The kimono is a T-shaped wrapped-front garment constructed of mostly rectangular pieces of fabric, and is sewn with set sleeve lengths, hem lengths and little tailoring to the body. The kimono is split into a number of varieties based on occasion and formality. These are denoted through motifs and motif placement, fabric choice, type of decoration and colour.

"Kimono" in kanji
Japanese name

The kimono has a set method of construction, with its own various terms and units of measurement to describe this. Kimono are always worn left collar overlapping the right, unless the wearer happens to be deceased.[1] Kimono are worn with a wide sash called an obi, which can be tied in a variety of ways based on gender, occasion and obi type.

Most variants of kimono are worn with an underkimono called a nagajuban, and kimono may be worn with zōri or geta, though other forms of footwear can be worn, excluding formal occasions. When wearing traditional footwear such as zōri or geta, tabi socks are always worn.

The word "kimono" literally means "thing to wear"; it stems from the verb ki (, "to wear (on the shoulders)") and the noun mono (, "thing").[2] The plural of kimono is "kimono", as Japanese does not distinguish plural nouns, though in English the plural "kimonos" is sometimes used.

Kimono are, in modern times, mostly worn to formal events, but can also be worn as everyday clothing. Kimono can be worn for important public holidays and festivals, weddings and funerals, but there are few occasions a person would be obligated to wear kimono to in the modern day.

Over time, the kimono has garnered a reputation for being uncomfortable and difficult to wear; however, it has experienced a number of revivals in popularity throughout the decades, and since the turn of the century, kimono enthusiasts have grown in number, promoting the garment as a comfortable and fashionable item of dress.

The people who tend to wear kimono most often - in some cases on a daily basis - are older men and women, geisha, maiko and sumo wrestlers, with sumo wrestlers being required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.[3]


Chinese fashion had a huge influence on Japan from the Kofun period to the early Heian period as a result of mass immigration from the continent and a Japanese envoy to the Tang dynasty. There is an opinion that Kimono was basically derived from the Chinese clothing[6][7] in the Wu region. During Japan's Heian period (794–1192 AD), the kimono became increasingly stylized, though one still wore a half-apron, called a mo, over it.[2] During the Muromachi age (1336–1573 AD), the Kosode, a single kimono formerly considered underwear, began to be worn without the hakama (trousers, divided skirt) over it, and thus began to be held closed by an obi "belt".[2] During the Edo period (1603–1867 AD), the sleeves began to grow in length, especially among unmarried women, and the Obi became wider, with various styles of tying coming into fashion.[2] Since then, the basic shape of both the men's and women's kimono has remained essentially unchanged. Kimono made with exceptional skill from fine materials have been regarded as great works of art.[2]

The formal kimono was replaced by the more convenient Western clothes and yukata as everyday wear. After an edict by Emperor Meiji,[8] police, railroad men and teachers moved to Western clothes. The Japanese began shedding kimono in favor of Western dress in the 1870s. The Western clothes became the army and school uniform for boys. After the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, kimono wearers often became victims of robbery because they could not run very fast due to the restricting nature of the kimono on the body and geta clogs. Also, kimono produced by traditional methods have become too expensive for the average family. A common price for a kimono- and-obi ensemble is over $1,000, according to the Tokyo Wholesalers Association. Many cost far more. Even on some special occasions such as wedding day, an elaborate kimono is de rigueur, most people choose to rent one. The Tokyo Women's & Children's Wear Manufacturers' Association (東京婦人子供服組合) promoted Western clothes. Between 1920 and 1930 the sailor outfit replaced the undivided hakama in school uniforms for girls.[9] The national uniform, Kokumin-fuku, a type of Western clothes, was mandated for males in 1940.[10][11][12] Today most people wear Western clothes and wear the breezier and more comfortable yukata for special occasions.

In the Western world, kimono-styled women's jackets, similar to a casual cardigan,[13] gained public attention as a popular fashion item in 2014.[14] Kimono are also worn on special occasions such as coming of age ceremonies and many other traditional Japanese events.

In 2019, the mayor of Kyoto announced that his staff were working to register “Kimono Culture” on UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.[15]

Textiles and construction of kimono

Over time, the proportions of kimono have evolved differently for men and women. Men's kimono should fall approximately to the ankle, with no hip fold – the ohashori. A woman's kimono, however, should be as tall as she is, in order to allow the correct length for the ohashori to be formed. An ideally tailored kimono has sleeves that fall to the wrist when the arms are lowered; however, in informal situations, this is not strictly necessary, and indeed, kimono are worn casually by some women without the ohashori.

Kimono textiles can to be classified into two categories: Gofuku(呉服), which indicates silk textiles in general, for luxuries and cotton/hemp Futomono(太物) for everyday wear. Gofuku was named after 呉 (Wú) in ancient China, where the technology of silk fabrics originated from. Cotton clothing is called Momenfuku (木綿服) whereas hemp clothing is called Asafuku (麻服) in Japanese. Cotton/hemp fabrics are generally called as Futomono (太物, Thick materials) as the fiber of these materials are thicker compared to that of silk. Till the end of the Edo period, tailoring of these fabrics were handled respectively at Gofuku store (Gofuku Dana) and Futomono stores (Futomono Dana), however, after the Meiji period, kimono was not worn as daily wear very often and Futomono stores eventually went out of business.

Kimono are traditional made from a single bolt of fabric called a tanmono, which varies in size and shape for both men and women. Tanmono are roughly 36 cm wide and 11.5m long for women[2], and the entire bolt is used to make one kimono. Some men's tanmono are woven especially long to include enough fabric for a haori, juban and kimono as well, as men's kimono can come in matching sets of the same fabric and colour.

The finished kimono consists of four main strips of fabric – two panels covering the body and two panels forming the sleeves – with additional smaller strips forming the narrow front panels and the collar. Children's kimono commonly consist of just three main panels, as only one width of fabric is needed for the body.[2]

Historically, kimono were often taken apart for washing in separate panels, and were resewn by hand. Because of the standardised method of construction, and the fact that no fabric is wasted, the kimono can easily be retailored to fit the changing body, or indeed another person.[2]

The maximum width of the sleeve is dictated by the width of the fabric. The distance from the center of the spine to the end of the sleeve could not exceed twice the width of the fabric. Traditional kimono fabric was typically no more than 36 centimeters (14 inches) wide. Thus the distance from spine to wrist could not exceed a maximum of roughly 68 centimeters (27 inches). Modern kimono fabric is woven as wide as 42 centimeters (17 inches) to accommodate modern Japanese body sizes. Very tall or heavy people, such as sumo wrestlers, must have kimono custom-made by either joining multiple bolts, weaving custom-width fabric, or using non-standard size fabric.[16]

Traditionally, kimono are sewn by hand; even machine-made kimono require substantial hand-stitching. Kimono fabrics are frequently hand-made and -decorated. Techniques such as yūzen dye resist are used for applying decoration and patterns to the base cloth. Repeating patterns that cover a large area of a kimono are traditionally done with the yūzen resist technique and a stencil. Over time there have been many variations in color, fabric, and style, as well as accessories such as the obi.

The kimono and obi are traditionally made of hemp, linen, silk, silk brocade, silk crepes (such as chirimen) and satin weaves (such as rinzu). Modern kimono are widely available in less-expensive easy-care fabrics such as rayon, cotton sateen, cotton, polyester and other synthetic fibers. Silk is still considered the ideal fabric.

Customarily, woven patterns and dyed repeat patterns are considered informal. Formal kimono have free-style designs dyed over the whole surface or along the hem.[17]

[17] During the Heian period, kimono were worn with up to a dozen or more colorful contrasting layers, with each combination of colors being a named pattern.[17] Today, the kimono is normally worn with a single layer on top of one or more undergarments.

The pattern of the kimono can determine in which season it should be worn. For example, a pattern with butterflies or cherry blossoms would be worn in spring. Watery designs are common during the summer. A popular autumn motif is the russet leaf of the Japanese maple; for winter, designs may include bamboo, pine trees and plum blossoms (three friends of winter).

A popular form of textile art in Japan is shibori (intricate tie dye), found on some of the more expensive kimono and haori kimono jackets. Patterns are created by minutely binding the fabric and masking off areas, then dying it, usually by hand. When the bindings are removed, an undyed pattern is revealed. Shibori work can be further enhanced with yuzen (hand applied) drawing or painting with textile dyes or with embroidery; it is then known as tsujigahana. Shibori textiles are very time-consuming to produce and require great skill, so the textiles and garments created from them are very expensive and highly prized.

Old kimono have historically been recycled in various ways, depending on the type of kimono and its original use. Kimono were shortened, with the okumi taken off and the collar re-sewn, to make haori, or would simply be cut at the waist to create a side-tying jacket. After marriage or a certain age, young women would shorten the sleeves of their kimono, and extra material taken from kimono could be used to lengthen it at the waist, create an obi, or was used to patch similar kimono.

Kimono were also used to create dounuki, underkimono worn on top of the juban, and the material would show at the sleeve, hem and collar. Kimono were also used to create juban themselves, and after wearing layered kimono fell out of fashion, create a false underlayer – a hiyoku – was another use for old kimono. They could also be resewn into kimono for children.

Historically, skilled craftsmen would laboriously cut old silk kimono into strips roughly 1 cm wide to weave into obi, called saki-ori obi. The technique was a kind of rag-weaving, creating a mostly one-sided obi that was relatively narrow and informal. Saki-ori obi are prized for their craftsmanship and rustic quality today, as they would have taken many hours to create, and saki-ori obi often feature patterns of stripes, checks and arrows. The technique is kept alive to this day by craftspeople interested in rustic arts.


These terms refer to parts of a kimono:

  • Dōura (胴裏): upper lining on a woman's kimono.
  • Eri (): collar.
  • Fuki (): hem guard.
  • Furi (): sleeve below the armhole.
  • Obi (): a belt used to tuck excess cloth away from the seeing public.
  • Maemigoro (前身頃): front main panel, excluding sleeves. The covering portion of the other side of the back, maemigoro is divided into "right maemigoro" and "left maemigoro".
  • Miyatsukuchi (身八つ口): opening under the sleeve.
  • Okumi (): front inside panel on the front edge of the left and right, excluding the sleeve of a kimono. Until the collar, down to the bottom of the dress goes, up and down part of the strip of cloth. Have sewn the front body. It is also called "袵".
  • Sode (): sleeve.[17]
  • Sodeguchi (袖口): sleeve opening.
  • Sodetsuke (袖付): kimono armhole.
  • Susomawashi (裾回し): lower lining.
  • Tamoto (): sleeve pouch.
  • Tomoeri (共衿): over-collar (collar protector).
  • Uraeri (裏襟): inner collar.
  • Ushiromigoro (後身頃): back main panel, excluding sleeves, covering the back portion. They are basically sewn back-centered and consist of "right ushiromigoro" and "left ushiromigoro", but for wool fabric, the ushiromigoro consists of one piece.


A brand-new women's kimono may easily exceed US$10,000;[18] a complete outfit, with kimono, undergarments, obi, socks, shoes and accessories can easily exceed US$20,000, with a single brand-new obi costing upwards of several thousand dollars.

However, most kimono owned by kimono hobbyists or practitioners of the traditional arts are far less expensive. Cheaper and synthetic fabrics can substitute for traditional hand-dyed silk, and modern-day brand-new synthetic kimono are sold as 'washable' and easy to care for. Some people make their own kimono, as kimono do not require a paper pattern or extensive fitting to sew, and can be made of whatever fabrics the owner wants.

Many kimono are also bought second-hand from vintage stores, a lucrative business in Japan, as kimono do not go out of fashion, though certain motifs and colours can be attributed to different eras.[19] These can cost as little as ¥100 (about $0.9) at thrift stores in the Tokyo area, and the Nishijin district of Kyoto is also known for its pre-loved kimono markets. Even antique obi can retail cheaply, though they can be stained and fragile. Women's obi, however, mostly remain an expensive item; though simply-patterned or relatively plain obi can retail second-hand for as little as ¥500 (about $4.5), even a used, well-kept and high-quality obi can cost upwards of $300, as they are often decorated with embroidery, goldwork and hand-painted by craftsmen. Men's obi, even those made from silk, tend to be much less expensive, as they are narrower, shorter and less decorative than those worn by women.

Types of kimono

Kimono range in variation from extremely formal to very casual. The formality of a woman's kimono is determined mostly by pattern placement, decoration style, fabric choice and colour. The formality of men's kimono differs, in that it is determined more by fabric choice and coordination elements (hakama, haori, etc.) than decoration, as men's kimono tend to be one colour with motifs only visible when looked at closely.

In both cases, formality is also determined by the number and type of kamon (crests). Five mon (itsutsu mon) are the most formal, three mon (mitsu mon) are mid-formality, and one mon (hitotsu mon) is the least formal, used for occasions such as tea ceremony. The type of mon adds formality as well, with a "full sun" (hinata) mon being the most formal, a "mid-shadow" (nakakage) mon being mid-formality, and a "shadow" (kage) mon being the least formal. Embroidered mon, called nui mon, are also seen.[20]

Formality can also be determined by the type and colour of accessories, such as weave of obijime and the style of obiage.

Women's kimono

The typical woman's kimono outfit may consist of up to twelve or more separate pieces; some outfits, such as formal wedding kimono, may require the assistance of licensed kimono dressers, though usually this is due to the wearer's inexperience with kimono and the difficult-to-tie nature of formal obi musubi. Most professional kimono dressers are found in Japan, where they work out of hair salons, as specialist businesses, or freelance.

Choosing an appropriate type of kimono requires knowledge of the wearer's age, occasionally marital status (though less so in modern times), the formality of the occasion at hand, and the season. Choice of fabric is also dependent on these factors, though some fabrics - such as crepe and rinzū - are never seen in certain varieties of kimono, and some fabrics such as shusu (satin) silk are barely ever seen in kimono altogether, instead being worn on the obi.

Though length of kimono, collar style and the way the sleeves are sewn on varies for susohiki kimono, in all other types of women's kimono, the construction generally does not change; the collar is set back slightly into the nape of the neck, the sleeves are only attached at the shoulder, not all the way down the sleeve length, and the kimono's length from shoulder to hem should generally equal the entire height of the woman wearing it, to allow for the ohashori hip fold.

Sleeve length increases for furisode - young women's formal dress - but young women are not limited to wearing only furisode, as outside of formal occasions that warrant it, can wear all other types of women's kimono such as irotomesode and komon.


Yukata (浴衣) are casual cotton summer kimono. Yukata were originally very simple indigo and white cotton kimono, little more than a bathrobe never worn outside the house. However, from roughly the mid-1980s onwards, they began to be produced in a wide variety of bright colours, large motifs and loud patterns, responding to a demand for a more casual modern kimono that could be worn to a summer festival.

In the present day, yukata are worn with hanhaba (half-width) or heko obi, and for women, often accessorised with colour hair accessories. Yukata are always unlined, and it is possible to dress up a high-end, more subdued yukata with a relatively casual nagoya obi - one with a simple dyed design in an informal fabric such as ro or tsumugi.


Furisode (振袖) (lit., "swinging sleeve") kimono are the most formal kimono for a young, often unmarried, woman. They are decorated with colourful patterns across the entirety of the garment, and usually worn to seijin shiki (Coming of Age Day) or weddings, either by the bride herself or an unmarried younger female relative.

The sleeves of the furisode average at between 100–110 cm in length. Chu-furisode (mid-size furisode) have shorter sleeves at roughly 80 cm in length; most chu-furisode are vintage kimono, as in the modern day furisode are not worn often enough to warrant buying a more casual form of the dress.


Hōmongi (訪問着) literally translates as visiting wear. Hōmongi are distinguished in their motif placement - the motifs flow across the back right shoulder and back right sleeve, the front left shoulder and front left sleeve, and across the hem, higher at the left than the right. They are always made of silk, and are more formal than tsukesage.

Hōmongi are first roughly sewn up, the design sketched onto the fabric, before it is taken apart to be dyed again. The hōmongi's close relative, the tsukesage, has its patterns dyed on the bolt before sewing up. This method of production can usually distinguish the two, as the motifs on a hōmongi are likely to cross fluidly over seams in a way a tsukesage generally will not.[21]

Hōmongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear hōmongi at weddings (except relatives) and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.


Iromuji (色無地) (lit. "solid colour") are monochromatic, undecorated kimono mainly worn to tea ceremonies. The dyed silk may have a flat woven pattern - iromuji suitable for autumn are often made of rinzu silk. Some edo komon with incredibly fine patterns may be suitable for tea ceremony, as from a distance they are visually similar to iromuji. Iromuji may occasionally have one kamon, though likely no more than this, and are always made of silk. Shibori accessories such as obiage are never worn with iromuji if the purpose of wear is a tea ceremony; instead, flat and untextured silks are chosen for accessories.

Edo komon

Edo komon (江戸小紋) is a type of komon characterised by an extremely small repeating pattern, usually done in white on a coloured background. The edo komon dyeing technique originated within the samurai classes during the Edo period. Edo komon are of a similar formality to iromuji, and edo komon with one kamon can be worn as low-formality visiting wear; because of this, they are always made of silk, unlike regular komon.


Mofuku (喪服) describes general formal mourning dress, and both men and women wear mofuku. Mofuku kimono are plain black silk with five kamon, worn with white undergarments and white tabi. Men wear a kimono of the same kind, with a subdued obi and a black-and-white or black-and-grey striped hakama, worn with black or white zōri.

A completely black mourning ensemble for women - a plain black obi, black obijime and black obiage - is usually reserved for those closest to the deceased. Those further away will wear kimono in dark and subdued colours, rather than a plain black kimono with a reduced number of crests. In time periods when kimono were worn more often, those closest to the deceased would slowly begin dressing in coloured kimono over a period of weeks after the death, with the obijime being the last thing to be changed over to colour.


Kurotomesode (黒留袖) (black short-sleeve kimono) are formal kimono with a black background and a design along the hem only, worn to formal events such as weddings and wedding parties. The design is seen along the hem only; the further up the body this design reaches, the younger the wearer is considered to be, though for a very young woman an irotomesode may be chosen instead, kurotomesode being considered somewhat more mature. The design is either symmetrically placed on the fuki and okumi portions of the kimono, or asymmetrically placed along the entirety of the hem, with the design being larger and higher-placed at the left side than the right. Vintage kimono are more likely to have the former pattern placement than the latter, though is not a hard rule.

Kurotomesode are always made of silk, and may have a hiyoku - a false lining layer - attached, occasionally with a slightly padded hem. A kurotomesode usually has between 3 and 5 crests; a kurotomesode of any number of crests outranks an irotomesode with less than five. Kurotomesode, though formalwear, are not allowed at the royal court, as black is the colour of mourning, despite the colour designs decorating the kimono itself; outside of the royal court, this distinction for kurotomesode does not exist. Kurotomesode are never made of flashy silks like rinzū, but are instead likely to be a matte fabric with little texture.


Irotomesode (色留袖) (colour short-sleeve kimono) are slightly lower-ranking formal kimono with roughly the same pattern placement as kurotomesode on a coloured background. Irotomesode, though worn to formal events, may be chosen when a kurotomesode would make the wearer appear to be overdressed for the situation. The pattern placement for irotomesode is roughly identical to kurotomesode, though patterns seen along the fuki and okumi may drift slightly into the back hem itself. Irotomesode with five kamon are of the same formality as any kurotomesode. Irotomesode may be made of figured silk such as rinzū.


Tsukesage (付け下げ) are lower-ranking formalwear, a step below hōmongi, wherein the motifs generally do not cross over the seams of each kimono panel, but have the same placement as a hōmongi. Similarities between the two often lead to confusion, and indeed, sometimes the two are so visually similar that the distinction is difficult to make. Tsukesage can have between one and three kamon, and can be worn to parties, but not ceremonies or highly formal events.


Uchikake (打ち掛け) are highly formal kimono worn only in bridalwear or on stage. The name uchikake comes from the verb uchikake-ru, "to drape upon", originating in roughly the 16th century from a fashion of the ruling classes of the time to wear kimono (then called kosode, "small sleeve") unbelted over the shoulders of one's other garments.[2]:34

Uchikake are worn in the same manner in the present day, though unlike their 16th-century counterparts, could never be worn as an everyday kimono as well; they are heavily-decorated, highly-formal garments with thickly-padded hems, designed to trail along the floor as a sort of coat. Bridal uchikake are either red or white, and often decorated heavily with auspicious motifs. Because they are not designed to be worn with an obi, the designs cover the entirety of the back.


Shiromuku (白無垢, lit. "white pure-innocence") are the pure-white wedding kimono worn by the bride for a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding ceremony. Comparable to a uchikake and sometimes described as just a white uchikake, a shiromuku is worn for the part of the wedding ceremony, symbolising the purity of the bride coming into the marriage. The bride may later change into a red uchikake after the ceremony to symbolise good luck.

A shiromuku will form part of a bridal ensemble with matching or coordinating accessories, such as a bridal katsura, a set of matching kanzashi (usually mock-tortoiseshell), and a sensu fan tucked into the kimono. Due to the expensive nature of traditional bridal clothing, few are likely to buy brand-new shiromuku; it is not unusual to rent kimono for special occasions, and Shinto shrines are known to keep and rent out shiromuku for traditional weddings. Those who do possess shiromuku already are likely to have inherited them from close family members.

Susohiki / Hikizuri

Susohiki (lit. "trailing skirt") kimono are extremely long kimono worn by geisha, actors in kabuki and people performing traditional Japanese dance. A susohiki can be up to 230 cm long, and are generally no shorter than 200 cm from shoulder to hem; this is to allow the kimono to literally trail along the floor.

Susohiki, apart from their extreme length, are also sewn slightly differently to normal kimono, due to the way they are worn.[22] The collar on a susohiki is sewn further and deeper back into the nape of the neck, so that it can be pulled down much lower without causing the front of the kimono to ride up. The sleeves are set unevenly onto the body, shorter at the back than at the front, so that the underarm does not show when the collar is set this low.

Susohiki are also tied differently when they are put on - whereas regular kimono are tied with a visible ohashori, and the side seams kept straight, susohiki are pulled up somewhat diagonally, to emphasise the hips and ensure the kimono trails nicely on the floor. A small ohashori is tied, larger at the back than the front, but it wrapped against the body with a red momi wrap, which is then covered by the obi, rendering it not visible.[note 1]


Jūnihitoe (十二単) (lit. "twelve layers") describes the layered garments worn by court ladies during the Heian period. The jūnihitoe consisted of up to twelve layered garments, with the innermost garment being the kosode - the small-sleeved kimono prototype which would eventually go on to become the outermost garment worn.

The total weight of the jūnihitoe could be up to 20 kg. The garments were decorated in relatively large motifs, with a more important aspect being the numerous recorded colour combinations an outfit could have.

An important accessory of this outfit was an elaborate hand fan, which could be tied together by tassels tied onto the end fan bones. These fans were made of cypress wood entirely, with the design painted onto the wide, flat bones themselves, and were known as hiōugi.

No garments from the Heian period survive, and today the jūnihitoe can only be seen as a reproduction in museums, movies, festivals and demonstrations. The Imperial Household still officially uses them at some important functions, such as the coronation of the new Empress.

Men's kimono

In contrast to women's kimono, men's kimono outfits are far simpler, typically consisting of five pieces, not including footwear.

Men's kimono sleeves are attached to the body of the kimono with no more than a few inches unattached at the bottom, unlike the women's style of very deep sleeves mostly unattached from the body of the kimono. Men's sleeves are less deep than women's kimono sleeves to accommodate the obi around the waist beneath them, whereas on a woman's kimono, the long, unattached bottom of the sleeve can hang over the obi without getting in the way.

In the modern era, the principal distinctions between men's kimono are in the fabric. The typical men's kimono is a subdued, dark color; black, dark blues, greens, and browns are common. Fabrics are usually matte. Some have a subtle pattern, and textured fabrics are common in more casual kimono. More casual kimono may be made in slightly brighter colors, such as lighter purples, greens and blues. Sumo wrestlers have occasionally been known to wear quite bright colors such as fuchsia.

The most formal style of kimono is plain black silk with five kamon on the chest, shoulders and back. Slightly less formal is the three-kamon kimono.

Though the kimono is the national dress of Japan, there are many variations on it, some for traditional occasions, and others that co-existed alongside kimono as a separate style of dress. There are also a number of accessories that can be or are worn with kimono, and these vary in occasion and usage as well.

Some accessories and garments are specific to certain religious roles. The chihaya (ちはや/襅) are worn only by Kannushi and Miko in some Shinto shrine ceremonies, and the samue (作務衣) is the everyday clothing for a male Zen Buddhist lay-monk, and the favoured garment for Komusō monks playing the shakuhachi.

Others are related to traditional art forms in Japan. The jittoku (十徳) is worn by men in some tea ceremonies, and both geisha and maiko wear various accessories and types of kimono not found in everyday dress.

There are also accessories and garments only worn for certain holidays and occasions; okobo, also known as pokkuri, are worn by children for the shichi-go-san ceremony and by young women on seijin no hi. Brides opting for a traditional ceremony will wear specific accessories and types of kimono for certain parts of the ceremony. For formal ceremonies, members of Japanese nobility will wear certain types of antiquated kimono such as the suikan (水干) and the jūnihitoe (十二単).

Accessories such as kanzashi and obijime may be worn to any occasion and ceremony, though the style of these accessories changes based on formality, and, in the case of maiko, season.

Datejime (伊達締め) or datemaki (伊達巻き)
A wide undersash used to tie the nagajuban and the outer kimono and hold them in place.
A fur collar, boa or stole (usually white) worn by women over a kimono; usually on furisode by young women out celebrating their Coming of Age at shrines, etc.
Geta (下駄)
Wooden sandals worn by men and women with yukata. One unique style is worn solely by geisha (see okobo below). There are also Hiyori geta / Masa geta, Taka-ashida geta, Ippon geta / Tengu geta, Pokkuri geta.
Hachimaki (鉢巻)
Traditional Japanese stylized headband, worn to keep sweat off of one's face, and as a symbol of effort or courage by the wearer, especially by those in the military.
Hakama ()
A divided (umanori-bakama) or undivided skirt (andon-bakama) which resembles a wide pair of trousers, traditionally worn by men but contemporarily also by women in less formal situations. A hakama typically is pleated and fastened by ribbons, tied around the waist over the obi. Men's hakama also have a koshi ita, which is a stiff or padded part in the lower back of the wearer. Hakama are worn in several budo arts such as aikido, kendo, iaidō and naginata. Hakama are often worn by women at college graduation ceremonies, and by Miko on shinto shrines. Depending on the pattern and material, hakama can range from very formal to visiting wear.
Hakama Boots (袴ブーツ)
A pair of boots (leather or faux leather), with low-to-mid heels, worn with a pair of hakama (a pair of traditional Japanese trousers); boots are a style of footwear that came in from the West during the Meiji Era; worn by women while wearing a hakama, optional footwear worn by young women, students and teachers at high-school and university graduation ceremonies, and by young women out celebrating their Coming of Age at shrines, etc., often with a hakama with furisode combination.
Hakoseko (筥迫, lit. "boxy narrow thing")
A small box-shaped billfold accessory; sometimes covered in materials to coordinate with the wearer's kimono or obi. Fastened closed with a cord, and carried tucked-within a person's futokoro, the space within the front of kimono collar and above the obi. Used for formal occasions that require traditional dress, such as a traditional Shinto wedding or a child's Shichi-Go-San ceremony. Originally used for practical uses, such as carrying around a woman's beni ita (lipstick), omamori (an amulet/talisman), kagami (mirror), tenugui (handkerchief), coins, and the like, it now has a more of a decorative role.
Hanten (袢纏, lit. "half-wrap")
The worker's version of the more formal haori. As winterwear, it is often padded for warmth, giving it insulating properties, as opposed to the somewhat lighter happi. It could be worn outside in the wintertime by fieldworkers out working in the fields, by people at home as a housecoat or a cardigan, and even slept-in over one's bedclothes.
Haori (羽織)
A hip- or thigh-length kimono-like overcoat of varied length, which adds formality to an outfit. Haori were originally worn only by men, until it became a fashion for women in the Meiji period. They are now worn by both men and women. The jinbaori (陣羽織) was specifically made for armoured samurai to wear.
Haori-himo (羽織紐)
A tasseled, woven string fastener for haori. The most formal color is white (see also fusa above).
Happi (法被)
A type of haori traditionally worn by shop keepers, sometimes uniform between the helpers of a shop (not unlike a propaganda kimono, but for advertising business), and is now associated mostly with festivals.
Haramaki (腹巻, lit. "belly wrap")
Are items of Japanese clothing that cover the stomach. They are worn for health, fashion and superstitious reasons.
Hifu (被布)
Originally a kind of padded over-kimono for warmth, this has evolved into a sleeveless over-kimono like a padded outer vest or pinafore (also similar to a sweater vest or gilet), worn primarily by girls on formal outings such as the Shichi-Go-San (literally "seven-five-three") ceremony for children aged seven, five, and three.
Jika-tabi (地下足袋)
A modification of the usual split-toe tabi sock design for use as a shoe, complete with rubber sole. Invented in the early 20th century.
Jinbei (甚平)
Traditional Japanese loose-woven two-piece clothing, consisting of a robe-like top and shorts below the waist. Worn by men, women, boys, girls, and even babies, during the hot, humid summer season, in lieu of kimono.
Juban (襦袢) and Hadajuban (肌襦袢)
A thin garment similar to an undershirt. It is worn under the nagajuban.[24][25]
Kappōgi (割烹着, lit. "cooking wear")
A type of gown-like apron; first designed to protect kimono from food stains, it has baggy sleeves, is as long as the wearer's knees, and fastens with strips of cloth ties that are tied at the back of the neck and the waist. Particularly used when cooking and cleaning, it is worn by Japanese housewives, lunch ladies, cleaners, etc.
Kasa ()
A traditional Japanese oil-paper umbrella/parasol, ideal as an outdoor accessory, come rain or shine. See also Gifu umbrellas.
Kinchaku (巾着)
A traditional Japanese drawstring bag or pouch, worn like a purse or handbag (vaguely similar to the English reticule), for carrying around personal possessions (money, etc.). A kind of sagemono (see below).
Kimono slip (着物スリップ, kimono surippu)
[26] The susoyoke and hadajuban combined into a one-piece garment.[27][28]
Koshihimo (腰紐, lit. "hip cord")
A narrow sash used to aid in dressing up, often made of silk or wool. They are used to hold virtually anything (i.e. a yukata) in place during the process of dressing up, and can be used in many ways depending on what is worn.
Michiyuki (道行き)
A traditional Japanese overcoat (not to be confused with a haori or a hifu), characterised with a signature square neckline (for showing-off the multiple-collars of the kimono worn beneath), and for duel-fastenings (either tie, snap or button closures). It is worn over the kimono for warmth and protection while outdoors on day-outings and long-distance journeys, as a casual housecoat or coatdress in winter, and as an artist's work smock, apron, pinafore, overalls or a tunic), perfect for art-studio and garden tasks. Some michiyuki will include a hidden pocket beneath the front panel. Although historically there are versions for men, most modern michiyuki are made for women. There is no standard length, and some can be as long as the kimono-itself worn beneath it, which is more common for the style of michiyuki that are designed as rainwear.
Nagajuban (長襦袢, lit. "long underwear")
A long under-kimono worn by both men and women beneath the main outer garment.[29] Since silk kimono are delicate and difficult to clean, the nagajuban helps to keep the outer kimono clean by preventing contact with the wearer's skin. Only the collar edge of the nagajuban shows from beneath the outer kimono.[30] Many nagajuban have removable collars, to allow them to be changed to match the outer garment, and to be easily washed without washing the entire garment. They are often as beautifully ornate and patterned as the outer kimono. Since men's kimono are usually fairly subdued in pattern and color, the nagajuban allows for discreetly wearing very striking designs and colours.[31] Often worn over a hadajuban (see above).
Nemaki (寝間着)
Japanese nightclothes.
Netsuke (根付) or Netsuke (根付け)
An ornament worn suspended from the men's obi, serving as a cordlock or a counterweight. (See also ojime, below).
Obi-age (帯揚げ)
The scarf-like sash, often silk, which is knotted and tied above the obi and tucked into the top of the obi, to hide the obi-makura. Worn with the more formal varieties of kimono, and serves as decorates the top part of an obi belt; there are many types and designs: shibori, embroidered, etc.; although you can only see a little bit of it, it has an important role as a decoration, and there are different styles of tucking it in and is often more visible with furisode kimono. Used for tying more complex bows with the obi.
Obi-dome (帯留め)
A decorative fastening accessory piece, strung onto the obijime.
Obi-ita (帯板)
A thin stiff board that goes over the datejime and helps keep an obi in place and prevent it from getting wrinkled. It is worn underneath the second layer of the obi, after wrapping around the body twice. Modern versions have an elastic band or string, so it can be put on before the obi.
Obijime (帯締め)
The colourful, decorative ropes, cords or strings, used to assist in tying more complex bows with the obi and hold an obi belt in place and helps it keep its shape; also serves as a decoration around the obi belt. It ties in a knot in the front in the middle of the obi, and the ends are tucked into the sides of itself. An ojime (see below) was used to fasten the obijime in place (similar to a netsuke), and also serves as a decoration.
Obi-makura (帯枕)
Padding used to put volume under the obi knot (musubi); to support the bows or ties at the back of the obi and keep them lifted. It's essential for placing the common Taiko knot high on the back. Obimakura is usually covered by the obiage to hide it and make the entire tie more presentable.
Ojime (緒締め)
A type of bead which originated in Japan, and were used to fasten a obijime in place, like a cordlock. They were also worn between the inrō and netsuke and are typically under an inch in length. Each is carved into a particular shape and image, similar to the netsuke cordlock, though smaller. Similar to a netsuke (see above).
Sensu (扇子)
A handheld fan (either an ōgi () or an uchiwa (団扇)), generally of thick paper coated in paint, lacquer or gold leaf, with wooden spines, often lacquered. As well as being used for cooling-off, sensu fans are used as dancing props and to maintain makeup and are kept in the folds of the obi.
Setta (雪駄)
A flat, thick-bottomed sandal made of bamboo and straw with leather soles, and with metal spikes protruding from the heel of the sole to prevent slipping on ice.
Susoyoke (裾除け)
A thin half-slip-like piece of underwear, like a petticoat, worn by women under their nagajuban.[24][32]
Suzu ()
A round, hollow Japanese Shinto bell or chime, that contains pellets that sound when agitated. They are somewhat like a jingle bell in form, though the materials produce a coarse, rolling sound. Suzu come in many sizes, ranging from tiny ones on good luck charms (called omamori (お守り)) to large ones at shrine entrances. As an accessory to kimono wear, suzu are often part of kanzashi.
Tabi (足袋)
Ankle-high, divided-toe socks usually worn with zōri or geta. There also exist sturdier, boot-like jikatabi, which are used for example to fieldwork.
Tasuki ()
A pair sashes made from either cloth or cord that loops over each shoulder and crosses over the wearer's back, used for holding up the long sleeves of the Japanese kimono; the bottom of the kimono sleeves can then be tucked into the loop, so that they don't hang so low.
Tenugui (手拭い, lit. "hand wiper")
A handy piece of fabric, usually cotton or linen, they can come in a wide variety of colours and patterns, and with a myriad amount of uses—but mostly as a handkerchief, a hand towel, and larger ones can even serve as a napkin, bib, headscarf/kerchief/bandana (or to ad-lib as a hachimaki), and can double as a furoshiki (a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth), and even a shawl or a baby sling.
Uwabaki (上履き)
Japanese slippers worn indoors at home, school or certain companies and public buildings where street shoes are prohibited.
Waraji (草鞋)
Traditional sandals made of straw rope and bamboo bark and designed to wrap securely around the wearer's foot and up around the ankle; mostly worn by monks, and others who often travelled long-distance by foot (traders and merchants, etc.).
Yumoji (湯文字)
The traditional Japanese undergarment (like a loincloth or perizoma) for adult females; it may also be worn as a kimono underskirt, and as a single-layer absorbent bathrobe (worn during or after a bath).
Zōri (草履)
Traditional sandals worn by both men and women, similar in design to flip-flops. Their formality ranges from strictly informal to fully formal. They are made of many materials, including cloth, leather, vinyl and woven grass, and can be highly decorated or very simple.


Pre-WW2, kimono were commonly worn layered, with three being the standard number of layers worn over the top of undergarments. The layered kimono underneath were known as dōnuki, and were often a patchwork of older or unwearable kimono taken apart for their fabric.

In modern-day Japan, layered kimono are only seen on the stage, whether for classical dances or in kabuki. A false second layer called a hiyoku ("second wing", 比翼) may be attached instead of an entirely separate kimono to achieve this look; it is a type of floating lining, sewn to the kimono only along the centre back and underneath the collar.

This effect allows it to show at the collar and the hem, and in some kabuki performances such as Fuji Musume, the kimono will be worn with the okumi flipped back slightly underneath the obi to expose the design on the hiyoku. The hiyoku can also be seen on some bridal kimono.


In the past, a kimono would often be entirely taken apart for washing, and then re-sewn for wearing.[17] This traditional washing method is called arai hari. Because the stitches must be taken out for washing, traditional kimono need to be hand sewn. Arai hari is very expensive and difficult and is one of the causes of the declining popularity of kimono. Modern fabrics and cleaning methods have been developed that eliminate this need, although the traditional washing of kimono is still practiced, especially for high-end garments.

New, custom-made kimono are generally delivered to a customer with long, loose basting stitches placed around the outside edges. These stitches are called shitsuke ito. They are sometimes replaced for storage. They help to prevent bunching, folding and wrinkling, and keep the kimono's layers in alignment.

Like many other traditional Japanese garments, there are specific ways to fold kimono. These methods help to preserve the garment and to keep it from creasing when stored. Kimono are often stored wrapped in paper called tatōshi.

Kimono need to be aired out at least seasonally and before and after each time they are worn. Many people prefer to have their kimono dry cleaned. Although this can be extremely expensive, it is generally less expensive than arai hari but may be impossible for certain fabrics or dyes.

Commercial Appropriation

In June 2019, Kim Kardashian West launched a new range of shapewear called Kimono. West was heavily criticised over the name of the brand which critics argued disrespected Japanese culture and ignored the significance behind the traditional outfit. Following the launch of the range, the hashtag #KimOhNo began trending on Twitter and the mayor of Kyoto wrote to West to ask her to reconsider the trademark on Kimono. A petition was also created, which immediately began to receive global support. In response to public pressure, in July 2019, West announced that she would change the name.[15] However, as of August 4, 2019, the trademark filings remain active.


  1. Video reference showing Atami geisha Kyouma being dressed in hikizuri – the second video shows the difference between ohashori length at the front and back, and how it is tied into the obi so as to be not visible.[23]


  1. Hanami Web – Inside Japan. All rights reserved. "What Kimono Signifies". HanamiWeb. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  2. Dalby, Liza (1993). Kimono: Fashioning Culture (1st ed.). Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 9780099428992.
  3. Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X.
  4. Jill Liddell (1989). The Story of the Kimono. E.P. Dutton, p. 28. ISBN 978-0525245742
  5. Bardo Fassbender、Anne Peters、Simone Peter、Daniel Högger (2012). The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law. Oxford University Press, p. 477. ISBN 978-0198725220
  6. Elizabeth LaCouture, Journal of Design History, Vol. 30, Issue 3, 1 September 2017, Pages 300–314.
  7. Liddell, Jill (1989), J. Liddell, The story of the kimono, EP Dutton New York, 1989, ISBN 9780525245742.
  8. 1871(明治5)年11月12日太政官布告399号
  9. Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  10. 更新日:2010年11月25日. "戦時衣生活簡素化実施要綱". Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  11. "国民服令". Archived from the original on 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  12. "国民服制式特例". Archived from the original on 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  13. Ruddick, Graham (12 August 2014). "Rise of the kimono, the Japanese fashion taking Britain by storm". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  14. Butler, Sarah; Moulds, Josephine; Cochrane, Lauren (12 August 2014). "Kimonos on a roll as high street sees broad appeal of Japanese garment". Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  15. Ho, Vivian (2019-07-01). "#KimOhNo: Kim Kardashian West renames Kimono brand amid outcry". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  16. "男のきもの大全". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  17. Dalby, Liza (2000). Geisha (4th ed.). London: Vintage Random House. ISBN 0-09-928638-6.
  18. Hindell, Juliet (May 22, 1999). "World: Asia-Pacific Saving the kimono". BBC. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
  19. Tsuruoka, Hiroyuki. "The unspoiled market found by the lost office workers". Japan Business Press (in Japanese). Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  20. "Mon and Kamon". Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  21. Coline, Youandi. "Formality Series: Tsukesage". Chayatsuji Kimono. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  22. Coline, Youandi. "Are kimono and hikizuri the same?". Chayatsuji Kimono. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  23. "[Video from Atami Geigi Kenban on Instagram]" (in Japanese). 11 December 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  24. Yamanaka, Norio (1982). The Book of Kimono. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International, p. 60. ISBN 0-87011-500-6 (USA), ISBN 4-7700-0986-0 (Japan).
  25. Underwear (Hadagi): Hada-Juban. KIDORAKU Japan. Accessed 22 October 2009.
  26. A search for "着物スリップ". Rakuten. Accessed 22 October 2009.
  27. Yamanaka, Norio (1982). The Book of Kimono. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International, p. 76. ISBN 0-87011-500-6 (USA), ISBN 4-7700-0986-0 (Japan).
  28. Underwear (Hadagi): Kimono Slip. KIDORAKU Japan. Accessed 22 October 2009.
  29. Yamanaka, Norio (1982). The Book of Kimono. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International, p. 61. ISBN 0-87011-500-6 (USA), ISBN 4-7700-0986-0 (Japan).
  30. Nagajuban Archived 2008-08-30 at the Wayback Machine undergarment for Japanese kimono
  31. Imperatore, Cheryl, & MacLardy, Paul (2001). Kimono Vanishing Tradition: Japanese Textiles of the 20th Century. Atglen, Penn.: Schiffer Publishing. Chap. 3 "Nagajuban—Undergarments", pp. 32–46. ISBN 0-7643-1228-6. OCLC 44868854.
  32. Underwear (Hadagi): Susoyoke. KIDORAKU Japan. Accessed 22 October 2009.

Further reading

  • Milenovich, Sophie (2007). Kimonos. New York: Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-9450-8.

Craft materials

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