THE KIMONO- WHEN, WHERE, WHAT
The kimono, the national and traditional outfit of the people of Japan, is a vibrant, colorful, patterned cloth held together by a sash (Obi) for the women and a sober colored, single patterned cloth for the men. Depending on the age of the person wearing and the occasion or event attended, there are subtle differences in the shape, color or pattern of the kimono. Let us find out more!
1. The New Year (Oshyougatsu -お正月): Within the whole year Japan, you are most likely to see a whole lot of people wearing the kimono during the occasion of the New Year, and that is because the beginning of the year is considered to be very significant. The thought is, that if the first day is well, the rest of the year shall go well. The new year is welcomed with a gorgeous kimono called “haregi”[晴れ着] Young women wear the “Furisode” [振袖] - kimono with long sleeves that almost touch the ground and men wear” Haori-Hakama” [羽織-袴] ( a three piece outfit for men)
2. Shrine visit (Omiyamairi,お宮参): when a child is born in the family, the family visits the shrine of the town they live in, the child in the hands of the mother or grandmother is put on a kimono called the kakegi [掛け着]
3. 3,5,7 year olds (shichi-go-san, 七五三): a traditional event in Japan is the celebration of the healthy growth of a child. Girls of ages 3 and 7, and boys aged 5 visit their local shrine gods wearing the kimono.
- 3 year olds wear the kakegi [掛け着], the ones they receive when they are born, with an additional overcoat called hifu [被布]
- 5 year old boys wear a patterned kimono with a hakama.
- 7 year old girls wear a long sleeved kimono [furisode振袖]
4. Adulthood (seijin-shiki, 成人式): The age of 20 for both boys and girls is very auspicious in Japan As IT signifies adulthood. This occasion is seen with a lot of youngsters wearing Kimono of bright extravagant designs and colours with a ton of accessories to glam up their kimonos.
5. Graduation ceremony (sotsugyou-shiki, 卒業式): This is the only exception where you can see women wearing a Hakama, with boots. This is considered a new fashion which was created in the Taisho era (1912-25). A combination of the old and the new.
6. Marriage(kekkon-shiki, 結婚式): In a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, the woman is seen to wear a plain white Kimono [shiromuku白無垢], the sash, accessories, head cover are all white. Another glossy kimono 「色打掛usually patterned with auspicious symbols like the crane an embroidered with gold is also worn. The men wear a black haori- hakama with white patterns on the haori.
7. Funeral (Osou-shikiお葬式): Fully clad in black, women wear a kimono which have no patterns and men wear black haori-hakama. Every house in Japan has a symbol called a kamon [家紋] which is embroidered in white on the black
8. Festivals (Omatsuriお祭): The Happi, which is worn in festivals by men are the length of the hips. These were originally kinomo made smaller for easier mobility for pulling festive carts during processions. The happi varies depending on the place and festival.
All in all the Kimono is an integral part of the life of a Japanese from birth the the end. Though like all cultures women get to enjoy the bright patterns, colors and variety than men, these slight differences in style help in recignising the event happening around us, as clothes become a symbol. Do keep an eye out when you're in Japan and the next time you see a japanese wearing a Kimono, try asking what the patterns and designs on the kinomo represent, you might get to learn much more about the Kimono.