Japanese Language Blog

Kimono Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 in Culture

The kimono (着物) is the single most iconic representation of traditional Japanese culture. The word ‘kimono’ is a generic term to describe a type of traditional Japanese garment that comes in a t-shaped robe, but the kimono is anything but generic. There are many different and unique kinds of kimonos that are worn for certain occasions. The most varied types of kimonos can be seen more dramatically in the women’s kimono.

For example, the Furisode (振袖) is a kimono with especially long sleeves. These kimonos are worn by girls at coming of age ceremonies and by unmarried relatives of the bride’s side of the family. Usually the furisode is a kimono worn by young women and girls who are not yet married. Therefore the subtle message of a girl or woman wearing a furisode is supposed to indicate to others of her youth and non-marital status.


Mofuku (喪服) is a type of formal kimono worn by the family members of the deceased. Mofuku is a kimono that is mostly made of black silk. Even the obi () or sash is entirely black. The only part of the mofuku that is not black is the white kamon (家紋) or crests on the upper part of the kimono. The mofuku is worn only to show that the relatives of the deceased are mourning. It is never worn for happy or festive occasions.


Uchikake (打掛) is a highly formal kimono worn by the bride in a traditional Japanese wedding. The uchikake is actually a type of coat worn over the kimono, but it is still considered part of the kimono. There are two kinds of uchikake. One type is made entirely of white silk while the other type is heavily brocaded with red, gold and other colors. With red uchikake, there are often animal and flower patterns that line the uchikake.


The Iromuji (色無地) is a type of kimono that is made with a single color. There are no patterns or designs on the entire kimono. Compared to the furisode and the red uchikake, the iromuji is quite plain, but that’s because the iromuji is often by women who attend or preside over tea ceremonies. Tea ceremonies can be rather solemn, so the single colored iromuji is actually quite an appropriate choice for this type of an event.

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