The kimono, an elaborate work of craftsmanship, represents Japan’s meticulous and refined aesthetic spirit.
Alongside famous cuisine and traditional arts such as flower arranging and origami, the kimono is an instantly recognizable cultural symbol of Japan. Although these traditional garments are no longer frequently seen in public, at traditional festivals or events of special importance many Japanese will still don the elegant national costume.
Dating back to at least the early 7th century, the kimono was originally an undergarment of soft fabric meant to be convenient and comfortable. As time went on, however, the kimono evolved into a floor-length robe, fixed by a broad layer of fabric wrapped around the body and accompanied by decorative belts and accessories. The kimono is an elaborate work of craftsmanship in every single step, from the selection of fabrics to design and decoration.
Kimonos are traditionally made from silk, organza or brocade; today, however, new materials such as fabric blends or rayon are also used. Craftsmen design a kimono by cutting a single bolt of fabric into eight patches and stitching them together to fit the wearer. The fabric stitching itself is quite simple, but the kimono’s decoration requires sophisticated skill and aesthetic taste in embroidery and dyeing. Kimonos for women are usually adorned it h patterns of flowers, leaves or symbolic crests. There are also differences in kimonos for different ages, social class or seasons of the year. Children and young, unmarried women conventionally don kimonos of bright and warm colors such as pink, orange or red, while married women usually stay away from wide-sleeved kimonos and choose simple decorative patterns and refined colors. In tea ceremonies, Japanese women usually wear kimonos with stark seams on the shoulders and very conspicuous decorative patterns on the front and back. For the winter, kimonos are made of warmer fabrics in various layers, while in springtime, kimonos boast flamboyant colors and decorative patterns of cherry blossoms.
The wearing of a kimono is fairly complicated and strictly bound by rules. The left side must be folded over the right (at funerals, this is done in reverse), and the winding, folding and adjustment of items such as the obi (sash) is so complex that usually an assistant is required. After donning the kimono, a woman’s hair and face must be carefully adorned. Accessories such as belts, obi, a large bow for the back, traditional footwear such as wooden clogs and lovely handbags should be carefully selected. The entire kimono, from its creation to its rituals of use and combination with other accessories, symbolizes the meticulous and refined Japanese spirits.
On a trip to Japan, travelers can visit a traditional kimono workshop to see in person the entire process of making these works of art and understand why an exquisitely adorned kimono may cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. And those who want to wear this traditional garment can seek out kimono rental shops in which you will be lavishly served to become a kimono beauty for a day.