Saturday, 5 January 2008

The Japanese Kimono




The word kimono literally translates to "something worn" and has been
considered the national attire of Japan since its inception in the fifth
century. The earliest kimono were influenced through extensive cultural
exchanges between China and Japan, when Chinese traders introduced traditional clothing
known as Hanfu, which were later modified throughout Japan's history resulting
in todays contemporary kimono. Kimono can best be described as a T- shaped,
straight lined robe with a collar and wide full length sleeves that falls to the
ankle, made from a single bolt of fabric known as a tan, which comes in
standard dimensions. The kimono consists of four main strips of cloth, two
panels forming the sleeves, two covering the body, and additional smaller
pieces that make up the narrow front panel and collar.

Kimono are traditionally sewn by hand, and their fabrics are also often
hand made and hand decorated using silk, silk brocade, silk crepes, and satin
weaves known as ninzu. The level of formality ranges from casual to extremely
formal, and in the case of women is determined by the pattern, fabric, and
color. Kimono worn by young women have longer sleeves and are more elaborate
than those of older women, while men's kimono are usually one basic shape worn
in subdued colors. Unmarried women traditionally have worn a style of kimono
known as furisode, which has floor length sleeves and is usually displayed on
special occasions. Kimono for women are typically similar in size, and are
adjusted to various body types by folding and tucking. A kimono that ends at
the wrist when the arms are lowered is considered an ideal fit.


The process of putting on a kimono is quite difficult and time consuming,
and often requires the help of an assistant. Kimono are wrapped around the
body in a precise manner from left to right, and are secured by a wide belt
known as an obi, which is tied at the back. Traditional footwear called geta
which is a thonged wooden platform shoe, and split stockings known as tabi are
always worn with the kimono. In recent times kimono are most often worn by
women and occasionally men at weddings, tea ceremonies, or other formal
occasions. Professional sumo wrestlers who are required to wear traditional
Japanese clothes whenever appearing in public can also be seen in kimono.
Special courses are available in Japan for enthusiasts interested in learning
the correct techniques for putting on kimono. Classes also cover how to match
kimono undergarments and accessories, choosing the appropriate pattern and
fabrics to the season or event, and selecting and tying the obi. Kimono are
often very expensive, with a complete outfit consisting of undergarments, obi,
ties, socks, sandals, and accessories easily exceeding $20,000.




1 comment:

mr. a said...

fascinating...

thank you.