Clothing is an important aspect of Japanese culture. There are a large number of them: kimono, yukata, fundishi, hakama, obi etc. Each of these clothes is worn in a specific way and is adapted to the season.
They fascinate by their subtleties and their grace, very different from what can be found in Western countries. Most of these clothes have been worn for centuries in Japan.
Japanese women in Senso-ji temple, Tokyo, in March 2019 - Sofia Monteiro
What all these clothes have in common is the undeniable quality and beauty of the patterns inspired by Japanese culture and its folklore. Japan is undoubtedly one of the countries with the greatest cultural richness in the world!
We will see in this blog article the most must-have traditional Japanese clothing that you absolutely must know!
The emblematic Japanese Kimono
Woman in traditional Japanese kimono
It is surely the garment that comes to your mind when you talk about traditional japanese dress. The kimono is easily recognizable and often present in Japanese imagery. It is worn with an obi (belt).
Usually worn for special occasions, traditional or contemporary, the kimono has stood the test of time. Even if nowadays the majority of Japanese people dress like Westerners.
The kimono can be recognized by its T cut, its long and wide sleeves and its collar. The wearing of the kimono is governed by a strict set of rules called "kitsuke". Wearing it to perfection requires a lot of experience and know-how.
The Yukata, perfect for summer
Woman in traditional Japanese yukata
They are often confused with kimonos but they are actually quite different! Yukata is often made from cotton so that the fabric is light, breathable and able to absorb moisture from the body while keeping it cool.
The main visual difference it has with the kimono is that the yukata has no internal collar, the sleeves are generally shorter and is much less formal.
Worn by both men and women, it is fastened with a Japanese obi belt and is very easy to wear. It is one of the most appreciated Asian clothing in the West because it is very pleasant to wear at home.
The Jinbei: the perfect indoor clothing
Man in traditional Japanese Jinbei
It is a garment mainly worn by Japanese men. While girls prefer to wear a yukata, light and simple. The jinbei is worn at home or onsens but it is not uncommon to see Japanese dressed like this to do their shopping!
Made from soft, lightweight materials like hemp and cotton, the matching top and pants make a perfect summer outfit. The color is sober and can have very discreet geometric patterns. Westerners and Japanese love to use it as pyjamas.
The traditional Japanese pants: the Hakama
Men in Hakama | Source kyotokimono-rental.com
The hakama is divided into two categories:
- the andon bakama, a kind of long skirt (can be worn nowadays)
- the umanori, the pleated and very ample pants which tighten at the level of the waist
Once worn over kimono by nobles and samurai, today it is worn by Japanese men for serious occasions as well as for more common occasions.
Women wear it only for graduation ceremonies, weddings, or when practicing traditional martial arts.
Traditional Japanese sandals: Geta sandals
Japanese wooden geta
You've probably already seen them in the film world around Japan. They are essential elements in the traditional Japanese style. And allow thanks to their elevation to avoid stepping on your kimono and to keep tabi socks clean.
They are handmade in wood. A thick fabric strap holds the foot in the geta. Although they do not look like it at first glance, they are very comfortable and relieve back pain.
The use of geta has evolved over the centuries. They have evolved from the everyday shoe to a traditional item worn only on special occasions.
The Tabi, the socks for the Geta
Wooden geta worn with tabi
The slit in the sock makes the garment easy to wear with traditional shoes such as geta and zori. Traditionally white and sober, today we can see tabi of all colors sometimes accompanied by patterns.
The sole of the tabi is lined because in Japan the shoes are removed at the entrance of houses or temples. Thus this traditional sock also serves as slippers.
Very pleasant to wear at home, tabis are an excellent ally in everyday life when temperatures drop. Don't let your feet get cold anymore!
The Hanten, a Japanese winter coat
Woman in traditional Japanese hanten | Source nautiljon.com
Once worn by common people, the hanten has made a place for itself in fashion. With its unique colors and patterns, this light coat can be found in many star wardrobes. It is often associated with traditional Japanese clothing or bohemian style clothes. Perfect in autumn, it will bring beautiful colors to your everyday clothes.
An excellent choice for a first purchase in Japanese textiles!
The essential accessory for Japanese outfits: the Obi
Traditional obi belt
It is the Japanese belt that holds many clothes such as kimono, yukata, hakama etc.. In addition to its basic functionality, the Obi is also an essential element in the Japanese style.
It is a fashion element in its own right and there are many models and colors available. Used to brighten up the outfit or to tighten the waist, you can't miss it! There is an obi for every occasion.
The patterns on the obi can have two functions :
- harmonize the whole
- on the contrary, offer a beautiful contrast
Men's obi are different from women's obi. They are thinner, sober and are mostly used for their practicality. While those for women are mainly decorative.
Furyô fashion: Gakuran
Japanese student with his Gakuran uniform | Source thetv.jp
Present in manga and Japanese series you have necessarily already seen them. It is the traditional Japanese uniform of Japanese high school students. Often black or dark blue is worn so that all students are equal in spite of social class differences.
Unlike the West, Japanese people are very happy and proud to wear their school uniform. The gakuran consists of a long buttoned coat with an officer collar, straight pants and black shoes often made of leather.
The model for women is called the fuku, with a marine style and is composed of a navy blue skirt, a white shirt and a scarf (often colored). These uniforms were originally created for European navy personnel.
Haori: the ultimate streetwear fashion
Traditional Haori Jacket
Although traditionally a jacket that was worn over a kimono, the haori is today the symbol of Japanese streetwear. More and more appreciated in the West, it is starting to become fashionable all over the world.
Modern Haori jacket with streetwear style
It was worn by the geisha but also during ceremonies when the temperature was low. It is worn open or tied on the front with a small cord, the purpose being to let the beautiful colors of the kimono and the obi belt appear.
Adopt a traditional Japanese outfit!
We have presented you the most famous types of Japanese clothing. Their clothing mode is one of the most complete in the world because it is so refined and varied.
What all these clothes have in common is that they are very comfortable and pleasant to wear. And there are clothes for every season and every occasion.
All you have to do is try it!