What is a traditional Japanese costume, Kimono?
Kimono is the national costume peculiar to Japan. Kimono is not simply a Japanese-style clothing, but Japanese culture has been condensed into this traditional costume. This is the background reason for beauty and profundity of kimono, that we hold in high regard. It would be very interesting to inquire into kimonos from this point of view. Even for Japanese, it is not easy to follow all the rules of kimono such as “in which season to wear what pattern of the kimono.” This time we are going to explain about “basic knowledge” of kimonos, which you will be interested to learn, as well as “good manners”, which you will find useful when you experience wearing a kimono while travelling in Japan.
Yukata is one of the Japanese clothing, which is the most frequently worn. Yukata is one style of kimonos, which is the most casual, to be worn during summer, particularly at summer festivals, fireworks festivals and so on. In fact, summer is the time when more people put on a traditional Japanese clothing. Currently, few Japanese wear a traditional Japanese clothing as daily wear. Many Japanese, however, are still proud that they have good manners when wearing traditional kimonos on special occasions.
When do you wear a kimono?
Regarding kimonos for women, a status of a woman and the type of occasion that she attends determine what kind of kimono she should wear. First of all, there is “furisode (swinging sleeves)”, which is the most prestigious kimono for unmarried women. It is usually worn at a “coming-of-age ceremony”, which celebrates a person’s transition from being a child to being an adult. Other than that, it is often worn on the New Year’s Day and at wedding ceremonies. It has long sleeves and colorful patterns. Secondly, there is “kuro-tomesode” (black kimono with short sleeves), which is the most formal kimono for married women. Literally, it is a black kimono, which is often with patterns in gold. It looks very chic. It is most often worn by mothers of a bride and a groom at a wedding ceremony. It is emblazoned with a crest called “kamon.” There is another kimono called “homongi” (visiting wear), which are worn by both unmarried and married women on less formal occasions. In addition, there are different ways to tie an obi (sash) around a kimono, which include maru-obi (formal) and han-obi (casual).
If you wish to put on kimonos during your visit in Japan, you can find kimono rental shops throughout the country. You can choose your favorite kimono from a wide range of collections at a price from 4,000 yen to 10,000 yen. Because rental shop staff will assist you, little knowledge will be required when visiting a shop.
Tips on how to behave when wearing a kimono
We will explain about behaviors which will make you look more beautiful while wearing a kimono.
How to walk
With your feet slightly turning inward, you walk in small steps compared with the time when you are wearing a skirt. You need to be careful not to drag your feet and walk straight as if you were walking on a line. In case of women, because of the way kimono is worn, it is better to hold a bag with the left hand and to put the right hand, with the elbow slightly bending, on the front of the kimono. It will avoid disheveling of the kimono and you can walk gracefully.
Up and down of stairs
If you are afraid to step on the hem, you hold slightly the kimono with your right hand to shorten its length. You put only two-thirds of your sole on each stair when going up stairs. This is a knack to gracefully go up the stairs. If a stair is narrow, go up and down slowly by putting both legs on each stair.
Because kimono has long sleeves, it often happens that the sleeve gets caught on items placed on a table. In order to prevent this, when you stretch your arm, hold the cuff with the other hand so that the sleeve would not knock over items on a table.