Kimonos and yukatas are traditional Japanese clothing but what is its significance? Read on to find out why Japanese wear kimono?
The word ‘kimono’ initially just meant clothing in Japanese. Why it became very popular in Japan is because of the fact that it can be worn in any weather as it is easy to layer it during winter. And yukatas, cotton kimonos, are perfect for summers. Due to its versatility to adapt to change in weather conditions and comfort, Kimonos quickly became popular amongst the Japanese.
Related: Where to buy kimono in Japan
Why Japanese Wear Kimono
Historical of Kimono and Yukata
To dive deep into knowing about the history of Kimono, you must first know the meaning of the word itself. Kimono refers to clothing in Japanese but now it is known for a traditional way of clothing.
Before Kimono actually came into existence, people of Japan used to wear ensemble clothing that used to be full of accessories and with different lower and upper garments. After some time, that is the Helen period, an approach was made towards making Kimono-type clothing.
The technique they introduced was not at all difficult as it didn’t require any body measurement or size. All they used to do is cut straight cloth pieces and later stitch them together to make a kimono.
Kimono being traditional clothing has different reasons behind it. Firstly, it is a very simple and subtle way of dressing up and has add-on advantages to it such as it is suitable to wear in all types of seasons.
You could put on layers to keep yourself warm in winters and get yourself a light fabric kimono made for summers. They are easily foldable and felt extremely comfortable for all.
With time, people also experimented with colorful kimonos and made different combinations that looked pretty amazing at that time. After every combination, either a political thought or a seasonal beauty was represented.
At one point in time, only bright colors were preferred by both men and women. Color played a very important role as it used to signify or represent a group or a leader. Just like rulers in Mughals and other dynasties used to wear extremely different outfits with excessive jewelry and crowns, in the same way, Japanese kimono clothing played the same role.
Just like any part of the world or a human being enters the new generation, the kimono also has a journey of its own where it changes from time to time. When the Tokugawa warrior clan ruled over Japan, the whole scenario changed. Now there were uniforms worn by each samurais leader.
Clothing became an identity of a person and kimono, at that time, grew like no other clothing style. Till today as well, it is considered the most essential part of Japanese culture and is respected in the country.
When the Western people invaded Japan, western clothing was made mandatory to be worn but the common people wore kimono and were identified on the basis of that. A particular kimono would tell you about your background, your identity, and social status. This was done on the basis of fabric, pattern, and color of choice.
Nowadays, wearing kimono has become rare and people just wear them on special Japanese occasions or on a particular day such as wedding parties, tea parties, mourning, and others.
What is a Kimono?
Kimono is a traditional clothing style followed in Japanese culture by both men and women. It is a T-shaped cloth that is wrapped around the body and tied on the left. There are different types of kimonos available in different fabrics and be chosen as per the occasion you want to wear.
They are extremely comfortable to wear and quite airy and breathable. Women wear them with ‘obi’, which is a belt that is worn around their waist to keep the cloth intact. From base colors to floral prints, you can find various different patterns and designs that look absolutely beautiful.
Types of Kimonos and Why People Wear Them
There are multiple types of kimonos available with a special meaning attached to them as per their patterns, prints, and colors. You can see kimono of every variety such as formal, casual, daily wear, as well wedding wear.
Furisode kimono, which comes under the formal category and has three distinctive types to it. This type of kimono is worn by married and unmarried women but of a different type of sleeve and pattern. Three types have short, medium, and long sleeves and are called Kofurisode, chu-furisode, and Ofurisode, respectively.
To adhere to the formal dress code of a particular gathering, women are supposed to wear an Ofurisode kimono which has paddings attached to it with long sleeves that look elegant and formal. Under the same variety comes this type with no padding attached and made with a soft fabric, Chu-furisode kimono.
This was mostly preferred by unmarried girls as it has beautiful and bright prints. Kofurisode, the last one from this variety, is the one with shortest sleeves and is worn in casual form.
Kimonos also differed on the basis of social status. Wealthy people would wear silk kimonos on a daily basis rather than saving them for special occasions.
Although there are thousands of patterns that a kimono could have, each one of them has a specific significance that reflects beautifully. For example, a kimono printed with an animal print, such as a crane, signifies long-term good fortune and happiness and also the lifespan of a thousand years.
In terms of animal print only, mandarin duck-printed kimonos also have a positive meaning of love, loyalty, and happiness and such types of kimonos are worn by people on happy occasions like marriages, baby showers, life achievements, etc.
The one with a wave crest represents that you long for a peaceful life and the one with hemp leaves symbolizes growth. Such beautiful meanings after a piece of clothing make it more valuable and attractive
Why do people wear kimonos?
There is a very meaningful answer to it after you come across their advantages, their types, their hidden significance, and many more. After prints, even colors have a hidden meaning, which is very common in every culture.
For a wedding occasion, a bride is supposed to wear white kimono dress as it shows her acceptance of the family while also accepting the ways of her husband’s life from the heart.
White color gets mixed up with any color beautifully and this is why brides wear this as their bridal outfit.
At sad moments, like death or mourning, the Japanese prefer wearing black as it represents sadness. Colorful kimonos have their meanings directly connected to nature such as blue, as it comes from indigo, which symbolizes a healing color from bites, infections, and allergies.
People also wear kimonos of different colors to express their love towards the type of clothing and the season. For summers, the preferred colors are dark blue and lavender, for the spring season, pale colors are worn such as lime green and light yellow.
For autumn, sober and natural colors are worn and for winters, it is all about bright shades like red and black.
Kimono clothing is just not a piece of cloth that is just known for its beautiful colors and prints. This garment is respected and is kept as a precious thing in families.
Earlier, these kimonos were made with extremely good quality fabrics that you might not find today and so they are preserved by the families and passed through generations.
Different cultures have different things to pass on as pride of their origin and so Japanese have kimonos for that.
You must also know how expensive these kimonos are when it comes to a particular kind of fabric. For the ones for special occasions, they are completely handmade and are made while using expensive materials to beautify them and give them a unique look.
Wearing a kimono also shows that you respect the culture and manners and that you follow it with heart. If you ever plan to visit Japan, then do get yourself a kimono to enjoy the beauty of this lovely culture.
Kimono in the Modern World
Although some people still are true to their tradition and wear kimonos on different occasions to respect the culture, most of it is about fashion today. It is not just Japan that has influenced the world with its traditional clothing but there are different cultures too.
In today’s world, people are more influenced by western culture and even follow it in their daily life, and wearing a kimono is just about looking fashionable.
Youngsters wear these beautiful patterns and colors to make a fashion statement and also to look unique on social media. Everybody has their opinion which also differs while you dress up in a significant dress.
It is the same with a kimono, some wear it to cherish the historical meaning to it and some are just fascinated with its gorgeous outlook. Although, designers these days tend to take a step towards bringing these Japanese traditional wear to daily wear.
Also, a certain amount of people are eager to try this breathtakingly gorgeous garment for formal occasions like weddings and parties.
Also, people now take the kimono style and modernize it in their own way to get a perfect outfit. Style of sleeves and its length are taken to a whole different level and are enjoyed wearing. Nowadays, it is more of a blend of contemporary and modern kimono dress that excites people across the world.
Hiya! I’m the main author of Japan Truly. I love everything Japan and love testing out Japanese products, be it skincare and makeup or gadgets! You’ll find reviews of some of the best selling Japanese products (tried and tested) right here!