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Kimono Art in Traditional Japanese Clothing Research Paper

Kimono is traditional Japanese clothing worn by men, women, and children. Generally, the Kimonos are straight-lined, T-shaped robes worn in such a way that the turn-up falls to the ankle (Dalby 93). It has attachments of long, wide sleeves and a collar.

The Kimonos are put on by wrapping them around the body. The left is placed over the right part. During ceremonies like burial, the Kimonos are put on in reversed order. There is traditional footwear that completes the Kimono attire. This footwear is called Zori accompanied with special socks called the Tabi.

The Kimonos were introduced in the Japanese culture during the Heian period (794-1192). Before this period, the Japanese people wore different attires like the ensembles, which had separate lower and upper garments. The lower garments consisted of skirts and trousers (Fujisawa, Sano, Woodson, and Kawakami 199-216).

The Japanese also wore full garments. The Kimono technique was developed and advanced during the Heian period. These types of clothing’s became famous amongst the Japanese people because the design was very flexible. These cloths ended up becoming their identity. The Kimono was designed to fit on any body shape. This clothing was easy to put on and could be used for any weather conditions.

As time went by the Japanese people accepted and embraced the Kimonos as part of their cultural attire (Fujisawa et al. 169). The Kimonos designs were advanced with inputting different colours. The Japanese people developed colour sensitivity especially colour combination. During these times is when the colour combination developed as a Japanese tradition (Gluckman and Takeda 199).

The Kamakure and the Muromachi period (1192- 1573) were the times where both genders started putting on Kimonos that were brightly colored (Fujisawa et al. 320). The traditional warriors at these times wore Kimonos with colours identical to their leaders. During war, the battlefield appeared like Kimonos fashion show.

At the times when the Tokugawa clan ruled over Japan, the Edo period (1603-1868), the country had domain divisions headed by the lords. The Samurais from different domains were identified using different colours of their uniforms (Fujisawa et al. 143). The Kimono makers improved in their designs due to increased usage of the Kimonos, and increased varieties demands. Eventually, the Kimono making advanced and became an art. These made the Kimonos to be very valuable and were handed down the family lane.

Western influence became significant in Japan after the year 1868, commonly known as the Meiji period. The government of the time agitated for westernization, where the Japanese people were to adopt western culture including the western attire. Government officials including the military were to put on special western attire. This was a requirement by the law, which is no longer in effect today (Fujisawa et al. 218).

There are four major seasons in Japan, which have specific clothing’s. The Japanese people also put on different cloths during different stages of development, from childhood to adulthood. Therefore, the Kimonos are normally chosen to suit both the occasion and the season (Dalby 189).

It was a Japanese ritual for a child’s birth to be reported in the shrine a hundred days from when the child was born. This required specific Kimono attire. During this time, the child was dressed in white colored Kimono as the inner clothing. On top of the Kimono, a black-colored Kimono incorporated with the family’s crest was added for a boy child. For a girl child, they used a brightly colored Kimono that was Yuzen- dyed. The children also put on a special Kimono at the age of 7 years during a special event known as the Shichi-Go-San. This occasion was to thank the gods for keeping the children healthy up to then (Yamanaka 78).

The Japanese celebrated transition from childhood to adulthood at the age of 20 years. During this occasion, the girls wore long Kimonos, the Furisode. These Kimonos are only worn by girls that are not yet married (Liddell 332). During weddings, the bride is normally dressed in a white Kimono, the Shiromuku, signifying the start of a journey. Married women put on Kimonos with short sleeved flays, the Tomesode. The Tomesode came with a variety of colours excluding white. During formal occasions, the black Tomesode was used.

The Kimono designs are diverse ranging from simple single colored to complex multicolored designs. These designs are mostly imaginative accorded, based on the Japanese cultural beliefs (Yamanaka 67). The artists employed needlework in creating several opulent effects. This was common on the wedding Kimono.

Several motifs are currently present including the three dimensions. Some special Kimonos are woven with silver and gold threads. These metallic threads are attached to the fabric in a special traditional way. A technique where metallic threads are included on the garment is called Shusu amongst the Japanese people. This can well be illustrated by the figure below.

Figure 1: gold metallic threads

Gold metallic threads.


The garments ere dyed in a special way known as the Yuzen Resist dying. This technique was invented in the 17th century (Yamanaka 192). This resist dying was made from a mixture of soybeans and rice paste. This paste was used to paint special features on the clothing by protecting the areas from being infiltrated with the dye. Such motifs are made using hand painting.

The other most common design is the Katazome fabrics. Stencils are included during their production. The special rice paste or wax is also used in designing of these garments. The Surihaku is another special design among the Kimono (Yamanaka 49). It contains special features such as colored dyes, metallic foil, and the use of the rice paste in designing of special features. The figure below can be used as an illustration of this design (Liddell 101).

Figure 2: the Surihaku

The Surihaku Picture.


Other designed have been incorporated into the Kimono art. Some of them include the Shibori, Kasuri, Sumi, and figured weaves.

The Japanese culture is one of the Asian cultures that survived into the modern world. The Kimono is one of the important traditional Japanese cloths that are endowed with rich cultural heritage (Dalby 455). It is religious attire as well as being used during special national events in Japan. Currently although there is reduced usage of this attire due to modernization, a good number of Japanese people still use these designs.

Modern designers in Japan have included the knowledge of these designs in production of their cloth lines. Modernization of this art has taken place allowing the inclusion of inner trousers for women in the Kimono. In the modern world, the Kimono designs are used for making wedding dresses and the Yukuta, which is a special cotton Kimono designed clothing (Liddell 223). It is an important Japanese national attire.

Most people in Japan consider the Kimono as historical attire. This has made its use to diminish significantly in the modern Japan society. Western influence has also helped in diminishing the strong influence the Kimono art had to the Japanese people.

However, a very rich and very complex art that is not fully exploited in the modern Japan (Yamanaka 356). The study of the Kimono reveals a very reach cultural heritage amongst the Japanese people. It is a reflection of artistic observational nature (Liddell 215). Artists used the garment to pass a message about contradictory cultural practices.

Works Cited

Dalby, L. C. Kimono: Fashioning Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale, UP, 1993. Print.

Fujisawa, N., Sano E., Woodson Y., and Kawakami S. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. San Francisco, CA: Arcadia, 1997. Print.

Gluckman, D. C., and Takeda S. S. When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan. New York, NY: Weatherhill, 1992. Print.

Liddell, J. The Story of the Kimono. New York, NY: E.P. Dutton, 1989. Print.

Yamanaka, N. The Book of Kimono: The Complete Guide to Style and Wear. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1982. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Kimono Art in Traditional Japanese Clothing'. 27 May.

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