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 .