Japanese Costume Glossary
As Japanese clothing is quite varied, especially when the whole history
is taken into account - which has been well documented for a millenium -
the glossary must needs be incomplete. Some garments even have changed
the context in which they were worn. We are looking at the more modern
All Japanese clothing items are basically unisex, the gender (and age) difference
being expressed in fabric patterns and -colours, length and the shape of
Actually a rather general term, denoting "clothing". (kiru=to wear, mono=thing)
With the progress of "Western" clothing it has, however, taken on the meaning
of "Japanese clothing" but does still neither refer to a certain item
of clothing, nor does it discriminate male and female clothing.
The belt that ties kimono. Depending on gender, age, season and clothing style,
it can be 5-35 cm wide and about 1.5-4m long and more or less decorated. The
obi is often as expensive as the kimono itself. Sell at 700,000- 1,500,000
yen in a department store. [some examples of obi]
A sash that holds the obi in place. Come in the shape of plaited ribbons or
"sausages" stuffed with cotton wool. About 3,000 yen apiece. [example
A shawl that is tied around the top edge of the obi to hide the "bustle"
that holds up the drum style obi. [example]
The word means "bath clothing", but yukata were and are often worn as cool
summer dress, usually without underclothes. A yukata is unlined and typically
patterned white and dark (indigo) blue. They also serve as bathrobe, nightgown
and morning gown. From about 10,000 yen. [example]
Clogs made of wood with two straps. The basic geta, consisting of a flat
sole resting on two cross-pieces, is worn by men (lower, larger) and women,
while the other variety, more similar to European clogs, is exclusively female.
Nowadays, they are worn chiefly with yukata and by elder men and women, especially
on rainy summer days when there's a lot of puddles. 1,500 yen up.
Sandals made (in contrast to geta) of soft material such as straw, fabric
(traditional) or plastic with a flat sole. The most popular kind of shoe with
formal kimono, the female ones usually come in the plastic variety, with a
high wedge heel that slopes towards the toes. From 10,000 yen. [example]
The split-toe socks worn with any kimono besides yukata. They are made of
non-stretch material (woven vs. knit) and have relatively thick soles as the
Japanese don't wear any shoes within the house. 2,000-3,000 yen. [example]
The meaning of the term is "small sleeve", which refers to the usual undergarment
worn by both men and women. The sleeve isn't much longer (measured from the
outstretched arm down) than it is wide (measured from the shoulder to the
wrist). "Undergarment" doesn't mean that it was hidden, quite contrary: The
top garment was usually worn wide open. Nowadays, kosode often serve as top garment.
150,000 yen and up.
Formerly, the top garment worn over kosode, nowadays only seen on brides.
More elaborately decorated than kosode, it opens up from just below the obi
to reveal a beautiful kosode. The hem is padded with cotton-wool to make it drag
over the ground even more fetchingly. The sleeves can be as long as floor-length.
The long-sleeved kimono usually worn by single women on more or less formal
occasions. Formerly mainly black, pastel colours are nowadays abundant.
translates as "up-down" and denotes the formal dress of male mebers of
the samurai class. It consists of an upper part (kataginu) with wide,
wing-like shoulder parts, and the hakama (see below) worn over a kimono.
A split-leg garment worn mainly by men as part of the kamishimo and other
formal garments, but sometimes also by women, especially those who work at
shintô shrines. As the sides are open from about knee level up, they have to
be worn over kimono. 10,000 yen up.
means "twelve layers" and denotes the garment traditionally
worn by ladies at the imperial court, still seen on princesses at weddings.
The jû-ni-hitoe does not necessarily consist of 12 layers, but it is multi-
layered and very heavy. It was worn on a daily basis for centuries, only
taking note of the seasons in the number of layers and the thickness
of the fabric.
Jacket worn over kimono by both men and women (formerly only by men). The cut
is the same asfor kimono, but it's only about thigh-length. The front panels are
narrower than that of the kimono so that they can't be wrapped. Instead, the haori
is closed with two pieces of string at breast level.
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