Kimono is an internationally renowned traditional Japanese costume. Some people would be fascinated by the stunning beautiful patterns drawn by weaving process. Blessed with rich nature and four seasons, Japanese people have cultivated the kimono culture over the years. This article explains the history and appeal of kimono.
What is the origin of Kimono?
The origin of kimono is said to date back to the Yayoi period (300 B.C. to 250 A.D.). At that time, people wore one-piece outfits to wrap the body called "Kanpui”, and a piece of cloth with a hole cut in the middle for the head to pass through "Kantoi".
Later, with the influence of the Asian continental culture, Japan's unique clothing was formed. In the Heian period (794-1185), “Kosode”, the prototype of today's kimono, was born. Kosode means a garment with small cuffs, and it was worn underneath the large-sleeved “Oosode” garments such as sokutai and juni-hitoe worn by the upper-class aristocrats, and served as a kind of undergarment for court costumes.
In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the warrior class replaced the aristocracy to take control of politics. With this, the more practical kosode came to be worn as outerwear rather than underwear and became widely popular among people of all classes and wealth.
It is said that the form of the kimono today was completed in the Edo period (1603-1868). Marchant culture was at its peak, giving rise to a diverse kimono culture. It was also around this time that yuzen dyeing, in which pictorial patterns are dyed on kimonos, was born.
However, in the Meiji era (1868-1912), with the opening of the country to the world and the influx of other cultures, the westernization of clothing styles progressed rapidly. Today, Western-style clothing has completely taken hold in Japan, but the custom of wearing kimonos on important occasions such as coming-of-age ceremonies and weddings remains strong, and the culture is still being passed down.
Why is Kimono so charming?
The charm of the kimono lies in the beauty of its colors and patterns. The Japanese people have long enjoyed the changing of the seasons and the beauty of nature. Kimonos also reflect this spirit and depict nature in various ways from season to season.
The combination of flashy colors and patterns that Japanese people tend to avoid in western clothing is strangely comfortable and easy to wear in kimono. You may discover something new, such as colors you would not normally choose but makes you look surprisingly beautiful.
Kimono has an aspect of traditional craftsmanship, created by the skills of craftsmen that have been handed down over the years. Even though they are made of the same kind of fabric or dyed material, the colors and patterns are different among the production areas, and the textures are different, which is another profound aspect of kimono.
Kimono is not easily affected by trends and can be worn for a long time as long as they are well cared for. Kimono is passed down from parent to child, from child to grandchild, and can be considered sustainable fashion.
Let's feel the four seasons through kimono patterns
If you ever have a chance to wear kimono, why not be a little conscious of the seasons and enjoy the different looks of each season? Cherry blossoms, wisteria, and peonies are gorgeous in spring, and hydrangeas and irises are cool in summer. In autumn, autumn leaves and bellflowers, and in winter, camellias, daffodils, and snowscapes are appropriate.
The basic rule for choosing patterns is to go ahead of the season a little. It is regarded chic to wear kimono about a month and a half to a month ahead of the actual season until just before flowers bloom. For example, cherry blossoms bloom from late March to early April, so it is recommended to wear them by then. This is to avoid competing with the real flowers and to show respect for nature. It's a very Japanese sense of modesty.
Figured flower patterns can be worn throughout the year. The pattern combining four typical Japanese plants, plum blossoms, bamboo, chrysanthemums, and orchids, is called the "Shikunsimonyo" and can be enjoyed as a congratulatory pattern regardless of the season.
One of the charms of kimonos is that they are not only beautiful to look at, but also give you the joy of wearing them during the four seasons. There is no need to think too hard about what patterns are appropriate for each occasion. Being aware of the seasons, enjoy choosing your favorite colors and patterns.