Kimono, the Traditional Clothing of Japan


The kimono is the traditional clothing of Japan. Originally the word “kimono” literally meant “thing to wear” (ki “wearing” and mono “thing”) but now has come to denote a particular type of traditional full-length Japanese garment. The standard plural of the word kimono in English is kimonos, but the unmarked Japanese plural kimono is also sometimes found. Kimonos are T-shaped, straight-lined robes with collars and full-length sleeves that typically are wide. Both genders wear their kimono so that the hem falls to the ankle. Kimonos are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial) and secured by a wide belt called an obi, which is tied at the back.
Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi). Today, kimonos are most often worn by women, and on special occasions. Traditionally, unmarried women wore a style of kimono called furisode, with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions. A few older women and even fewer men still wear the kimono on a daily basis. Men wear the kimono most often at weddings, tea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions. Professional sumo wrestlers are often seen in the kimono because they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public. They commonly wear the kind of casual Japanese attire that is referred to as yukata, which is of plain unlined cotton.
As the kimono has another name gofuku,, the earliest kimonos were heavily influenced by traditional Han Chinese clothing, known today as hanfu, through Japanese embassies to China which resulted in extensive Chinese culture adoptions by Japan. It was during the 8th century, however, when Chinese fashions came into style among the Japanese, and the overlapping collar became particularly a women’s fashion. During Japan’s Heian period (794–1192 ce), the kimono became increaslingly stylized, though one still wore a half-apron, called a mo, over it. During the Muromachi age (1392-1573), the Kosode, a single kimono formerly considered underwear, began to be worn without the hakama pants over it, and thus began to be held closed by an obi “belt”. During the Edo period (1603-1867), the sleeves began to grow in length, especially among unmarried women, and the Obi became wider, with various styles of tying coming into fashion . Since then, the basic shape of both the men’s and women’s kimono has remained essentially unchanged. David Bowie made it a fashion statement on stage in 1972 with his Ziggy Stardust character. Kimonos made with exceptional skill from fine materials have been regarded as great works of art.The formal Kimono was replaced by the more convenient Western clothes and Yukata as everyday wear. After an edict by Emperor Meiji, police, railroad men and teachers moved to Western clothes. The Western clothes became the army and school uniform for boys.

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