The traditional folk costume of Japan

kimono and japanThis site introduces the kimono which is the traditional folk costume of Japan . The kimono is called ‘Wafuku’. ‘Wafuku’ is a word made to distinguish Japanese style clothes from Western style after the Meiji Age (1868-1912). European clothes are called ‘Yofuku’.
The shops which sell the kimono are called ‘ drapers’ . The origin of draper dates back to the Ojin Emperor’s era . The Ojin Emperor was the Emperor at the 15th generation . He sent a messenger to the Kingdom of Wu , which was named after the Dynasty of China at that time , and a specialist engineer was invited . The weavers were called ‘ kure-hatori’ in the Yuryaku Emperor’s era . ‘Kure-hatori’ was also the name of the clothes coming from the Kingdom of Wu. The Yuryaku Emperor was the 21st Emperor. It is believed that he passed away in 479 .
For a long time ,the Emperor, the Royal family and their close advisers conducted the affairs of state . As time progressed , the aristocracy changed into the ‘Warrior Rule’ code. The Political system of Japan changed so that the Emperor reigned , but did not govern . Japan learned a lot of things from China and Korea. The gifts from these countries were kept carefully in Japan’s warehouse . The warehouse is called ‘shosoin’ . Existing ‘shosoin’ is only one bulding in Todaiji . Today , the Imperial Household Agency is keeping the treaure which was in ‘shosoin’ . Since there are many treasures, investigation, research, and restoration are performed even now.
A long time passed. After Portuguese came ashore at Tanegashima in 1543, European culture went into Japan . The gun and Christianity were introduced into Japan for the first time . A lot of missionaries came to preach after Francisco Xavier had come to Kagoshima in 1549 . At that time , Japan was in a long civil war . Nobunaga Oda , a Lord in Japan , used guns for war , cleverly than any other warlord . Although conditions were favorable for him , he was betrayed by his vassal and he was assassinated . Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who was Nobunaga’s lieutenant, ended the civil war successfully.

nanban-shipHowever , Hideyoshi Toyotomi , who became the ruler of Japan at that time , did a foolish thing . Nobunaga had heard various stories from the ‘nanbanjin’ which was name given to the Portuguese and Spanish traders. It was heard that there was still a country to the west of the Kingdom of Ming . When Japan was finally united , Nobunaga had the dream of conquering the Kingdom of Ming . The Japanese people did not imagine having a war against the Kingdom of Ming in those days , but Nobunaga was a bold and forceful character . A lot of soldiers were farmers at first, and the war was fought during the famer’s leisure season , but ,the number of professional soldiers steadily increased over the long war.
Hideyoshi started fighting in Korea for his own ambition as well as to fulfill Nobunaga’s dream and also to support more soldiers for his army . He disarmed the farmers of weapons while the war was outside the country . After Hideyoshi died in 1597 , Japan was able to withdraw from Korea in 1598 . Though there was no goodness in the war , there was something in Korea concerning clothes that did not exist in Japan ,before . This was cotton. Cotton had been imported since just before the war started . The soldiers returned to Japan with the seeds of cotton , and it was imported from the ‘nanbanjin’ . They succeeded in the cultivation of cotton in Japan , at last. Ordinary people wore hemp, the upper classes wore silk at that time .

Wool fabric and fleece was not made in Japan in this age , as there were no sheep on the islands. Wool was very expensive and valuable . Sheep stock raising was begun during the Meiji Age (1868-1912) .
Hideyoshi put out the Kirishitan banishment order in 1587. However , at that time , because the trade had been encouraged , the effect of the Kirishitan banishment order was limited . The Japanese decided to mimic the foreign clothes and tried to tailor them for the kimono . There is a kimono type which has a Portuguese origin .
At this time , Hideyoshi did not have a son , so he nominated his nephew as his successor . When he was 56 years old , however his son was born .The nephew , Hidetsugu , was so shocked he became crazed . Hideyoshi took advantage of this , and forced Hidetsugu to commit suicide . He also killed many of Hidetsgu’s family and staff. Sadly, Hideyoshi died while his small son was still only 3 years old . The child was bequeathed the nation from his doting father .
Five people were placed in charge of politics while the son grew up . One of these five , Ieyasu Tokugawa , became the next head of Japan . The Hideyoshi Toyotomi side was broken by war in 1600 . The Goyozei Emperor appointed Ieyasu Tokugawa as the Generalissimo shogun in 1603 . The capital was moved from Kyoto to Edo . Edo is the present capital city Tokyo . This was the start of the Edo Age . This period , from the banishment by Nobunaga Oda of Yoshiaki Ashikaga from Kyoto to the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi , is called Azuchi-Momoyama Age (1568-1600). The political system in the Edo Age was established by Ieyasu and his son Hidetada and grandchild Iemitsu . Ieyasu reconciled with Korea in 1605. Tribute came fron Korea whenever the Generalissimo changed after 1607 .

oiranWool fabric and fleece was not made in Japan in this age , as there were no sheep on the islands. Wool was very expensive and valuable . Sheep stock raising was begun during the Meiji Age (1868-1912) .
Hideyoshi put out the Kirishitan banishment order in 1587. However , at that time , because the trade had been encouraged , the effect of the Kirishitan banishment order was limited . The Japanese decided to mimic the foreign clothes and tried to tailor them for the kimono . There is a kimono type which has a Portuguese origin .
At this time , Hideyoshi did not have a son , so he nominated his nephew as his successor . When he was 56 years old , however his son was born .The nephew , Hidetsugu , was so shocked he became crazed . Hideyoshi took advantage of this , and forced Hidetsugu to commit suicide . He also killed many of Hidetsgu’s family and staff. Sadly, Hideyoshi died while his small son was still only 3 years old . The child was bequeathed the nation from his doting father .
Five people were placed in charge of politics while the son grew up . One of these five , Ieyasu Tokugawa , became the next head of Japan . The Hideyoshi Toyotomi side was broken by war in 1600 . The Goyozei Emperor appointed Ieyasu Tokugawa as the Generalissimo shogun in 1603 . The capital was moved from Kyoto to Edo . Edo is the present capital city Tokyo . This was the start of the Edo Age . This period , from the banishment by Nobunaga Oda of Yoshiaki Ashikaga from Kyoto to the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi , is called Azuchi-Momoyama Age (1568-1600). The political system in the Edo Age was established by Ieyasu and his son Hidetada and grandchild Iemitsu . Ieyasu reconciled with Korea in 1605. Tribute came fron Korea whenever the Generalissimo changed after 1607 .

Japan was opened to the outside world at the request of the American Commodore Perry . The Japanese people who attended his arrival were very surprised by his iron clad ships . This event heralded the begining of the Meiji Age . At this time, Western culture was widely adopted by the upper classes so that Japan wouldn’t be seen as such a barbarous country in the West . The Imperial household made clothes for the Royal family in the formal Western style . Western style clothes gradually became the norm for the elite classes while ordinary people continued to wear kimono .
Men took to Western style clothes earlier than women. The Meiji Emperor had his hair bobbed . The Meiji Government was promulgated in 1871 and decreed that men’s top-knot could be cut , they also made a professional army and police force ,and started to use uniforms of Western style.

daigakufter the Meiji Age, Japan became an open country which engaged with foreign countries again . The Meiji Govern-ment however,feared becoming colonized by Europe or America . The Japanese Government of that time made various reasons for war , and fought the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and in the First World War. Thought these three wars were won , the Second World War ended in defeat for Japan in 1945. Revision of the Constitution of Japan was carried out, and it specified renunciation of war.
Althought ordinary women were continuing wearing the kimono, during the World War may people changed to ‘Monpe’. ‘Monpe’ were work clothes made at the Edo Age. Ordinary men wore the khaki national uniform of Western style clothes at this time. After the World Japanese people were very poor , and so returning to kimono was difficult in Post war Japan . From this time most , Japanese do not wear kimono in daily life .
The people wearing kimono every day are in the minority . If you go to see those who wear the kimono , one way to see Japanese classic culture . If you go to ‘kyougen’, ‘noh’,’bunrak’,’kabuki’,’sumo wrestling’ or ‘kabuki, folk costume of old Japan can be seen .
There are many reasons why the Japanese stopped wearing kimono except on special occasions . There are a lot of rules kimono . For example, a kimono must be chosen to suit the occasion it is worn for . There are various rules for how and when to wear kimono as a custom .

e1no5Kimonos are not put on as easily as dresses . The body is moved difficultly when it wears kimono , but with practice it becames comfotable . Practice is required until the body can do automatically move while wearing a kimono . Otherwise it is difficult to move gracefuly.
The kimono must careful treatment for preservation and maintenance . The kimono of silk has low light resistance , so it must be careful maintained to protect it against mold.
The kimono is not easy on the purse . The cast of a good quality kimono is similar to that of a small car . This can get you into a lot of trouble !
The kimono has a mystic force . The kimono chooses the wearer , at times . The kimono shows elegance and graces the wearer who puts it on , or alternately looks graceless and crass . This is because the mind of the person who chooses the kimono appears in that kimono . I think that such clothes are special , even if they are seen all over the world .
My job is sewing kimono ♥ . Tailoring the kimono is called ‘Wasai’ . An excellent kimono can’t be sewn by sewing machine , it must all be hand-sewn . If one wants to put on a kimono for a long time , it is better for the kimono not to be made on a sewing machine . Kimono is made of a flat pattern clothing-construction . If the thresd is pulled on the kimono , it returns to it’s former square cloth shape . ‘Wasai’ sews straight except for the neck line of kimono and the collar of the coat for kimono. Paper patterns are not used for sewing kimono except for the collar of the coat for kimono. Kimono can be tailored more freely than dresses . If the kimono is of good quality and is treated with care , it may be able to be worn over three generations .

About when buying kimono

The ‘draper’ was a shop that sells the silk kimono cloth . The ‘futomono’ was a shop that sold the cotton cloth and the hemp cloth . The cloth shop and the tailoring shop were separate. The ‘draper’ that did both the cloth selling and the tailoring appeared in the Edo Age . There is no store called the ‘futomono’ nowadays. The ‘draper’ sells the cloth for the kimono, and the tailoring is subcontracted. Ready-made kimonos are sold in the ‘draper’ recently. Except for these ready-made articles it takes some time to tailor kimono . It is best to think that from one to two months is necessary sewing time for tailoring kimono .

The kinds of kimono

The kinds of kimono and the correct order in which to wear them

There are various kinds of kimono. They are not worn on alone like a T-shirt . The kimono which ordinary people wear is divided into the kinds shown on the lower figures . Other kinds kimonos are put on for a special event or a shrine ritual. Kimono has neither a zipper nor a button . It is fixed with string and belt unique for kimono . It is better to wear the special footwear for kimono, when putting on kimono. There are five kind of footwear . Basically , they are ‘zori’, ‘seeta’, ‘geta’, ‘waraji’, ‘jikatabi’. ‘Tabi’ are Japanese socks . Japanese footwear is more healthily than Occidental shoes , but whenever the foot is accidentally stepped on , it is painful .

About the correct order in which to wear it

1 First , put on the tabi , and then put on the underwear . There is an undergarment for the upper body and for the lower body. There is also a one-piece shape in the underwear for women. ‘Hada-juban’ is the underwear of the upper half of the body . There are two kinds of underwear for the lower half of the body and they are a wrapped skirt type and trouser type . ‘Momohiki’ is the trouser type underwear for men , it is also called ‘patch’ . Althought there is the trouser type for women , it is not called either ‘patch’ nor ‘momohiki’ , it is called ‘under-slacks’ . ‘Susoyoke’ is the wrapped skirt type of underwear . How to choose is purely a matter of personal taste ….。

under wear

 

2  A woman should put on a brassiere for kimono before wearing the underwear . A towel and gauze can be substituted although there is a foundation garment for kimono. A woman wraps a towel above the pelvis level . The towel wrapped over the female breast prevents deformation of the collar . A man wraps the towel around the upper part of the pelvis. A person who needs no foundation garment for kimono should not think it’s something to be proud of !

fondation-gament

3  Next please put on ‘naga-juban’. Do not wear ‘naga-juban’ in front of people ., it’s not good manners .
‘Han-eri’ is worn over the top . There are various kinds of ‘han-eri’. It can be changed whenever you like .
If ‘han-eri’ becomes dirty or rumpled , it must be washed and changed.

naga-juban

 

4  ’Nagagi’ is kimono foundation. There are many people who call ‘nagagi’ ‘kimono’.
Here, the whole is called ‘Kimono’ for Japanese folk costumes.
The method of wearing ‘nagagi’ for a man and woman is different.
Therefore, the form is also different .The difference is published on another page.
The size of all the kimonos is decided on the basis of the size of ‘nagagi’.
All the other sizes can be known if the size of the nagagi is known.

nagagi

 

5  Around the waist a fabric belt is worn.
There is a difference in length and width between a man and woman .
A woman is completed in this figure. The man calls this appearance 『 kinagashi 』.
This is the way it can be worn everyday.

fabric belt

6  There are three methods when a man goes out in public .
The first method is wearing a haori.
The second method is putting on a hakama.
The third method is wearing both a haori and a hakama.
‘Haori’ and ‘hakama’ are men’s formal attire . Of course , you may carry out these three figures everyday.
For the first time when a man buys kimono, a draper recommends buying ‘nagaju-ban’, ‘nagagi’, and ‘haori’ all together.
When going out , even in the hot time of summer, it is necessary to put on ‘haori .
A haori is safer than a hakama , because those who have not got used to a hakama will have trouble in a public lavatory , for sure !

hakama.haori

 

6  Nowadays ‘hifu is hardly worn. Sometimes a girl wears it to celebrate being three years old. Even if a woman puts on ‘haori’, it doesn’t become ‘full dress’ like man , it is informal dress style. There is a historical background. ‘Hifu’ and ‘haori’for women can be worn anywhere except in a public place .

hifu and haori

7  A coat is not formal wear or semi-evening dress . It is greatly different from ‘haori’. A coat is worn outside only , you should take it off in the room. Since a man rarely wear a kimono, there are rarely those who prepare a coat for kimono . The collar type of coat has many kinds . The name of those coats is the same as the collars name .

coat of kimono

 


About ’han-juban’

‘Han-juban’ is the clothes style which is made when a hada-juban and a naga-juban are unite.
The material worn on the upper body is made from the cloth of ‘ hada-juban ‘.
There is both ‘ hada-juban ‘style and ‘ naga-juban’ style for the lower body..
The sleeve of the underwear is changed the sleeve of a naga-juban .
The collar of ‘hada-juban’ is remodeled like the collar of naga-juban , and is attached to ‘ han-eri’ . ‘Han-juban’ are the clothes for softening the summer heat.

han-juban

 


About ’yukata’

‘Yukata’ is formally called ‘yukatabira’ . In earlier days , it was worn when going to a public bath, and it was like a pajama . Nowadays, it became ‘town wear’ which can be worn easily in summer. ‘ Naga-juban ‘ is not worn when wearing ‘yukata’. ‘Hanhaba-obi’ is worn when a woman wears a ‘yukata’ . This belt is easier to put on than other belts , which means this can be worn easily compared to other kimonos. When wearing a yukata, wooden clogs are worn with bare feet . The wooden clogs , in Japanese , are called ‘geta’

 

yukata

 


About the layered look

There was a custom of wearing kimono in many layers among aristocratic circles. They wore multiple layers of the kimono of a different color . The representation is ‘twelve-layered ceremonial kimono’ which the noble woman wore at the Heian Age.(794-1192). Livin in this kimono is difficult and serious . Althought I do not wear it , it is very heavy and wa can not walk . It has been heard of noblewomen having worn a maximum of 18 layered. The tradition of the layerd look is inherited by only formal wear and ceremonial wear nowadays. People of the Edo period (1603-1868) wore layers of four or three ‘Nagagi’ . People of the Meiji period (1868-1912) wore layers of three or two ‘nagagi’. As a time progresses, number of ‘nagagi’ became fewer. It is called ‘sanmai-gasane’ to wear layers of three ‘nagagi, . It is called ‘nimai-gasane’ to wear layers of two ‘nagagi’. The parts of ‘sanmai-gasane’ are called ‘upper garment’, ‘middle garment’and ‘under garment’ from the top. The parts of ‘nimai-gasane’ are called ‘upper garment’ and ‘under garment’ from the top. It became ‘nimai-gasane’ when it was in the Showa (1926-1988) . it is sewn with the fly front of the Japanese style nowadays. In formal wear , it is decided that the color of ‘under garment’ , the ‘han-eri’ and the ‘tabi’ will be white . Man also has to wear a haori and a hakama . ‘Nagagi’ is the name specified in a textbook which the Ministry of Education published at the Taisho Age (1912-1926). Almost Japanese do not know the word ‘nagagi’ , it hardly teaches about a kimono by compulsory education.

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About the shape of the sleeve

The upper figures are kimono which ordinary Japanese people wear.
There is no ‘nagagi’ with half sleeves .
It worn with long sleeves even during a hot summer.
The kimono that the townspeople and the samurai class wore originated during the Edo Age.
There are also sleeveless haori and the kimono of tubular sleevese , this is worn over the top .

hanten

About the upper-front body of kimono

In 603 , the Suiko Emperor brought in a Chinese system to Japan , she adopted ‘ujin’ which was the first system to rank officials into 12 levels .
The color of the clothes was determined by rank .
The true purpose is the system was to employ an excellent person regardless of family line.
In 719 ,’ujin’ was formally decided in law by the Gensyo Emperor , and ‘sajin’ was proscribed , this is the common kimono style for both man and woman.
Almost Japanese do not know the word ‘ujin’ and ‘sajin’.
Nowadays , ‘ujin’ is called ‘migimae’, ‘sajin’ is called ‘hidarimae’ , in other words , ‘migimae’ is the same as men’s Western style clothes ,
which was not the original intention . Men’s and women’s style were to be the same .
Although it has not changed from a long time ago, gravesclothes became the custom of dressing ‘hidarimae’.
When people are young , when kimono is worn ‘hidarimae’ by mistake , mother said , only half serious ,「You are dead ! 」or 「Are you a ghost ?」 .
The kimono could be studied at home in days of old ,
because mothers and grandmothers often used to wear kimonos but ,
since Japanese people have not got used to wear a kimono these days,
it’s difficult to study at home from family ,
many flesh-and-blood ghosts who wear ‘yukata’ appear in summer festival by their own dressing mistake .

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They have not noticed they are wearing the kimono by mistake .
‘Hidarimae’ is believed to bring bad luck .
If those who wear hidarimae at the formal place are seen, everyone will think「Oh my god !! 」.
Incidentally , the triangle of cloth attached to the head is one of the burial rites of Buddhism.
In Japan, although someone dies , those who do not go to the better world are called ‘yurei’ or ‘obake’, and remain on this earth .
‘Yurei’ is a restless sprit , because they have a lingering affection and grudge about something in this life .
Although ‘obake’ itself does not understood why it is, they are those who do not go on to the better world.
If anything , ‘yurei’ is more dreaful than ‘obake’ , because ‘yurei’ sometimes curses people.

What should be done in order not to make a mistake?

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First of all, wearing a kimono and getting used to it’s shape and feel is important .
Everyone is mistaken in how to wear a kimono once at least , don’t pay it any mind , try again ! The button is not attached to ‘naga-juban’ and ‘nagagi’, Therefore, it slips up . Women are used to ‘hidarimae’ , because it is lady’s Western style . A full length mirror is required, when a preson wears a kimono or it dresses . Since a mirror is a reflection , changing left for right , people sometimes have the illusion that they have made a mistake. Before wearing a belt , it is necessay to confirm the right way of wearing .