The kimono is the traditional attire for women in Japan and it literally translates as ‘thing to wear’. Usually, kimonos are full-length, straight-lined, ankle-length robes with collars and wide sleeves. They wrapped around from left to right, unless when dressing for a burial. A kimono is held together by a sash or obi, which is tied at the back. Completing the outfit are socks and traditional footwear.
The Yukata, is a special – less formal – type of kimono made of lighter fabric and more suitable for warm summer weather. They are typically worn during summer festivals.
Although kimonos can be worn by both men and women, today, they are more often worn only by women, particularly on special occasions.
The way the kimono falls on a woman’s body is a measure of its quality. Ideally, the length of the kimono is adjustable and the fold is hidden under the obi; while the sleeves should stop at the wrists when the arms are lowered. They are made from a single fabric called tan, which is available in standard dimensions.
Kimonos put together four strips of fabric – two to cover the body and two come together to form the sleeves. Traditional kimonos are stitched by hand and even the modern, machine-made ones require substantial hand stitching. The kimono and obi are traditionally made of silk, silk brocade, silk crepes, and satin weaves.
The design pattern on the kimono establishes when they should be worn. For instance, cherry blossom motif kimonos should be in the spring; designs incorporating water are meant for summers; the Japanese maple motif during autumn, while bamboo designs should be sported during winter.
Soaking up the culture can be fun if you’re donning traditional clothes. Try out this traditional Japanese women’s attire – kimono – when you’re in Japan.
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