Traditional Japanese clothing changes by season, much like clothing worn in other parts of the world. However, Japanese clothing can also change based upon the type of event. Below, we explore the most common types of traditional clothing and when you would wear them.
During the spring, most traditional clothing favors bright colors and floral patterns. Fall colors are more muted and may include chrysanthemums or maple leaves. Winter designs include bamboo, pine trees, and plum trees to represent good luck. The type of fabric also change with the season – during the summer, kimonos of light cotton are worn while during the colder seasons thicker, lined kimonos are worn.
Just like an American woman wouldn’t wear a sundress to a black-tie event, traditional Japanese clothing also changes based upon the event. Formal clothing is generally more ornate and of thicker, higher quality materials.
Types of Traditional Japanese Clothing
Kimono - This is the most basic article of Japanese clothing. It is a long robe characterized by wide sleeves and is tied with a sash.
Yukata - This a casual, cotton kimono style worn during the summer months. Generally unlined and worn by both men and women.
Uchikake - The most formal kimono. This is an unbelted style worn as an outer robe which was traditionally worn by women of noble status. Today, it is most often worn by brides or stage performers. Designed to trail along the floor and is often very colorful.
Shiro-maku (means pure white) - Traditional wedding kimono, most often in white. This kimono is worn during the wedding ceremony, and the decorated Uchikake is worn over the shiro-maku during the reception.
Nagajugan (also called a Nagajuban) - Similar to a kimono, worn by both men and women as an undergarment. Nagajugan often have detachable collars and can be changed to match the outer garment.
Haori - Mid-length kimono jacket worn by both men and women. Traditionally worn for more formal occasions.
Obi- Sash worn with a kimono. Often elaborately tied.
Michiyuki - The traditional kimono shaped Japanese over coat. Often decorated with ornate designs and patterns.
Hakama - Traditional pants worn over a kimono. Originally worn only be men, today they are worn by both men and women. A looser style is often worn by field workers.