Ever daydreamed of wearing a fashionable traditional kimono while strolling the historic streets of Kyoto? Planning on wearing one for your Kyoto vacation? Before you book a Kyoto kimono rental, there are a few quick and interesting facts that you should know about this traditional Japanese garment.
Shared by the guys at Maikoya, these pieces of information will surely make your Kyoto kimono experience even more fun and authentic. And, while wearing a kimono is surely fun, it’s always ideal to respect and heed the 1,000-year tradition of wearing this garment.
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Do’s and don’ts of kimono wearing
When you wear the kimono over your chest, make sure that the ride side is worn first and the left side is always on top. In Japanese tradition and culture, only those who passed away are wrapped in this garment where the right side is on top.Wearing the sash ribbon in front is a traditionally a no-no for women. Historically speaking, courtesans were the only ones who tied their sash from the front.
In Japan, single and married women are advised to wear different kimonos. That way, people can easily understand if someone is single or married by just looking at the kimono.
The meanings of the kimono colors and patterns
The motifs and patterns of the kimono have symbolic meanings related mostly to the seasons. Bamboo branches, chrysanthemum and pine, for instance, all represent winter. Plum flower and cherry blossoms are representations of spring. There are also other representations and symbolic meanings.
- Hexagons and cranes for longevity
- Peacock and wisteria flower for love
- Fan for wedding
- Taiko drums for fun
- Paulownia flower for feminity
- Overlapping circles: 7 Buddhism jewels
- Connected diamonds: the hemp leaves that grow fast, which are used mainly for children’s kimonos.
The crane is mainly used in wedding kimonos because it’s the epitome of loyalty, good fortune and longevity. The loyalty reference comes from the fact that cranes are naturally monogamous creatures. Chrysanthemum is arguably the most common flower and is also the symbol of the imperial family.
The colors of the kimonos likewise have meanings.
- Blue: sky and ocean
- Red: it wards off the evil spirits
- Pink: youth and spring
- Purple: noble and harvest season
Pastel colors are primarily for summer, dark colors for winter and bright colors for spring. Kimonos for older ladies have fairly simple colors with little to no motifs.
Other fun facts about the kimonos
As you wear a kimono, you’re basically practicing a 1,000-year old Japanese traditional. Traditional clothes, in other countries, are worn only during parades and festivals. But, in Japan, it’s pretty normal to wear this garment during social gatherings, like meeting with friends at a tea-house, graduation parties, marriage tea ceremony and many more.All kimonos, historically, for adults were available in one size only. Since people are different, when it comes to height, it wasn’t easy to put on this Japanese garment.
Most of today’s Japanese women can’t wear a quintessential kimono by themselves since it requires a great deal of practice and training. Wearing a yukata (summer kimono), which is available in hot springs and ryokans, is pretty easy. Every Japanese can easily do it.
The Western clothing, for the most part, highlights a woman’s figure and appeal by emphasizing her curvy lines. The kimono, on the other hand, does the opposite of it. Unlike typical Western-designed dresses and outfits, the kimono shows the body in a straight fashion, which ideal and suitable for the body types of women in Japan. The inner stuffing of the kimono is designed to make the body look more of a cylinder.
Most of the young Japanese girls you see on Kyoto’s streets donning the kimono are typically local travelers from Tokyo or Osaka who are just visiting the city. In other cities in Japan, it’s rare for your ladies to wear this garment, except for the coming of age day and their graduation ceremony.
A Maiko (a geisha in training) dress can weigh over 10 kilograms. It has a multitude of inner garment layers to show that their chest is flat.And, that creates the image that the Maiko is pure.
Yukata is a kimono variety that’s made of cotton. Used as a summer wear, yukata’s design is a bit more casual, and doesn’t require any inner wear.
The obi (sash) can be tied in the back in many different ways. And, every way of tying it has a different meaning. Mature and experienced geishas have shorter sashes, while apprentice geishas mainly use longer sashes.
Kimonos for men usually have no motifs and have dark, simple colors. In addition, it has a small, black-and-white patterned sash that’s perfectly positioned in a way to showcase the man’s big belly. In Japan, a man with a bigger belly has a higher social status.
Kimonos for women are more colorful with a bigger sash and feature eye-catching floral motifs.
Kimonos are designed with long sleeves for the wind to just pass by. This essentially makes you, the wearer, feel more comfortable as well as look even more appealing.
Kimonos are made by a 36-centimeter wide fabric, which is quite impractical. Four to five pieces should be sewed always to create a T shape.
Most young ladies with powdered white faces on the city’s streets that you see on day time are likely Asian travelers who dress up as Maikos (apprentice geishas). A real Maiko normally doesn’t walk outside with a group and has real hair instead of a wig. Not to mention, they only have their bottom lip painted, have seasonal motifs on their outfits and always carry seasonal flowers. And, they don’t wear kimonos with all-red designs.
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