Kimono (着物) and Kitsuke (着付け)


Kimono is a traditional Japanese clothing. There are different types of kimonos that are worn on variety of occasions. It is very important to note that a kimono is ALWAYS worn wrapped left over right!

Kitsuke is the art of wearing a kimono.  It is very important to note that you put a kimono on according to strict rules. These concern the type of kimono, the patterns, colours, the selection of accessories and of course the appropriate way of dressing and wearing the garment. Below you can find number of useful phrases that you will need while learning the art of kitsuke:

  • Obi – the belt that is tied around your waist.
  • Ohashori – special waist fold for women’s kimono. In order to be able to make it, you need a kimono that is about your height.
  • Juban – kimono underwear.  It is meant to protect the kimono from sweat.  You ALWAYS wear some kind of juban under your kimono!
  • Hakama – loose pants worn by both – men and women.
  • Tabi – special socks with the big toe separated from the other toes so that you can wear your zori (shoes).
  • Zori – shoes that you wear with a kimono.
  • Geta – clogs that are worn with a yukata. It’s a major mistake to wear them with a kimono!
  • Yukata – although it looks like kimono and is sometimes refered to as “summer kimono”, it is not really considered a kind of kimono! Yukata is made from cotton and worn during the summer, while back in the day it used to be treated as a bathrobe and a “pyjama”.

Kimonos for men and women differ significantly.

Man’s kimono – has sleeves ewn to the body of the kimono. It is not worn with an ohashori, so it only has to be long enough to reach your ankles.

Woman’s kimono –  sleeves are not sewn to the body of the kimono. It is worn with an ohashori, so it has to as tall as the woman wearing it is. There are many types of woman’s kimono. These are as follows:

  • Komon – a casual kimono with a small pattern repeated all over the surface of the fabric. It is worn with nagoya obi or han-haba obi. Worn by both married and unmarried women.
  • Iromuji – a solid colored kimono that is either without any pattern at all or has a delicate pattern woven into the fabric itself. It is worn with nagoya or fukuro obi. Worn by both married and unmarried women. It is typically worn during the tea ceremony.
  • Tsukesage – a semi-formal kimono which only has a pattern on the bottom, below the knee. It is worn with a fukuro obi. Worn by both married and unmarried women.
  • Houmongi – a formal kimono with pattern across the sleeves, shoulder and bottom. Worn on formal occasions for both married and unmarried women.
  • Furisode – a very formal, colorful kimono with long, swinging sleeves.  It is worn oonly by young, unmarried women!
  • Tomosode – a very formal kimono worn by married women.  It is black with a colorful pattern at the bottom.
  • Uchikake – a bride’s kimono with a padded bottom hem. It is typically very colourful and rickly embroided.
  • Bride’s furisode –  is a long, trailing furisode with a padded hem. Is NOT the same as Uchikake.

Obi is the belt worn with a kimono. There are various types of obi, suitable for different occassions. The major types of obi are:

  • Han-haba Obi – a casual obi that is worn with a yukata and sometimes with komon kimono.  It’s width is only around 15cm (which is half of the usual width of an obi).
  • Nagoya Obi – it is a semi-formal kind of obi. It has a narrower section (~15cm wide) at one end where it’s folded and sewn in half. It is typically worn with komon, iromuji or tomesode kimonos. It was named after the city of Nagoya where it was first made.
  • Fukuro Obi – a formal obi with pattern covering around 50% of its one side. It is ca. 30cm wide. It is worn with furisode, tomesode, iromuji, houmongi or tsukesage kimonos.
  • Maru Obi – the most formal obi with pattern covering both sides of it. Because of the exquisite embroidery and high-quality silk used, it is very heavy and quite stiff. It is only worn during the most formal events with houmongi, tomesode or furisode kimonos.
  • Heko Obi – a man’s obi.  It is a wider obi made of a softer fabric.
  • Kaku Obi – a thinner man’s obi made of stiffer material.

Accessories are often just as important as the kimono and obi. Below you’ll find a list of most important kimono and kitsuke accessories:

  • Korin belt –  an elastic belt with clips on both ends.  It keeps the kimono in place when it is worn.
  • Datejime – belt used to tie the kimono under obi.
  • Obi-makura – a small pillow used while tying the obi and in order to give the right shape to the knot.
  • Obi-age – a scarf like piece of silk or other material that is tied just a little above the obi that goes around your waist. It’s meant to hide the obi-makura.
  • Obi-jime – a decorative cord tied over the obi. There are many different kinds of obi-jime. Its colour usually matches that of obi-age.
  • Obi-dome – a small decorative bead-like element placed on the obi-jime.
  • Obi-ita – a stiff board that is worn to keep an obi flat and unwrinkled. It is put under the obi part that goes around your waist, on the front.

Finally, it is important to remember that there are rules concerning the appropriate patterns and colours of obi and kimono. These depend on the occassion, time of the year, your age and marital status and some other factors. If you want to learn more…

…feel free to join the Kitsuke courses and shows organised by our Association. For more information, don’t hesitate to e-mail us!