Flowers in Japan

Customs, Manners and Pasttimes

a. Kimono (Japanese Dress)

The kimono as known today first appeared as a formal outer garment in the Edo era, having evolved through gradual changes in the shape and color of the formal undergarments worn by the nobility in the Heian perod.

For the most part, Japanese people today wear Western clothing in their everyday life, but the traditional kimono is still popular both as formal attire and as clothing for the home.

The kimono worn by Japanese women are well known abroad for their beauty. By far the most gorgeous is the uchikake, a long overgarment worn by the bride in a wedding ceremony. The silk fabric is embroidered with gold and silver threads, most commonly in patterns of flowers or birds.

There are various types of kimonos. Those of married and unmarried women differ in design, color, sleeve length and other aspects. Women also wear kimonos of different fabrics, designs, patterns and cuts in accordance with the occasion – formal or informal. Japanese women ordinarily wear kimonos during the New Year holidys, or on such occasions as the coming-of-age ceremony, college graduation parties, wedding ceremonies and reception as well as funeral services.

Whereas Western dresses are tailored in specific sizes to fit the wearer, Japanese kimonos are made only in approximate sizes and the fit is adjusted by the manner in which it is worn. This is an operation requiring special technique. Most young Japanese women of today are accostomed only to Western dresses and cannot put on kimono by themselves.

The elegance and refined beauty of the kimono derives more from the atmosphere. However, it is not uncommon for men to wear kimonos during the New Year holidays to receive guests at home. On formal occasions, they wear haori (a half-coat) and hakama (a divided skirt).

The cotton yukata is an informal kimono and is popular as a home garment especially for summer wear while cooling off in a breezy part of the house after a bath in the summer.

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