Can a white person wear a cheongsam

Kimono and Yukata: Traditional Japanese Clothing

The word kimono is made up of the words “to put on” and “object” and originally referred to any form of clothing. The kimono known today has existed with minor modifications since the Heian period (794-1185). Until the opening of Japan and the associated adaptation to the West from 1854, the kimono was the main item of clothing for the Japanese. The aristocracy and warrior caste wore more elaborate, multi-layered kimono - citizens, farmers, craftsmen and traders were more suitable for everyday use. To this day, the shape, material, pattern and color of the kimono are indicative of the social status and occasion.

Easy to cut, difficult to put on

All kimono types show a simple T-shape when spread out. At the kitsuke, putting on and wearing the kimono, the most important thing is a cylindrical silhouette. This shape is currently considered particularly attractive. The curves of the body are padded and stretched accordingly. Here it becomes clear: It is not the physicality that is emphasized, but the artistry of the garment.

A kimono ensemble is made up of many individual parts. The following list only names the basics!

Components of a kimono ensemble


  • Kimono (overgarment)
  • obi (Belt, is artfully knotted at the back)
  • obi-age (a scarf that protrudes a little from the obi)
  • obi-jime (narrow ribbon that is tied over the obi)
  • white tabi-Socks (with an extra "pocket" for the big toe) and zori- or geta-Sandals (with wooden soles and thong) - with modern ensembles, western shoes such as ballerinas or boots are also allowed


  • juban(Undergarment, mostly made of thin cotton, the collar of which peeks out a little under the kimono; is worn over the underwear)
  • Auxiliary tapes covering the fabric of juban and keep kimono in place: date-jime (wide waist band, there is also a Velcro fastener for those in a hurry), koshihimo (thin auxiliary bands), kōrin belt(Elastic band with clips that prevents the cutout from opening)
  • obi-ita (stiff pad that gives the waist a straight shape)
  • obi-makura (Foam pad that ties the knot of the obi stabilized on the back)

Shape, pattern, colors, occasions

It is part of kimono etiquette to choose the shape, color and pattern to match the occasion and season. Many kimono are decorated with seasonal nature motifs. For example, a kimono with a cherry blossom pattern would be worn in mid-March, just before the actual hanami season in early April. But there are also kimono that show plants from all four seasons and can therefore be worn all year round. This also applies to geometric patterns.

There are different types of kimono, which indicate the social status of the wearer, the degree of formality and the occasion.


Kimono variants

  • Furisode ("Schüttelarmel"; kimono with long sleeves for young women, which is worn to important celebrations - the more colorful, the younger the wearer)
  • Kurotomesode (kuro means black; the kimono is decorated just below the waist, above the obi he shows five mon 紋 (family coat of arms). Very formal, worn by married women on festive occasions)
  • Hōmongi("Kimono for visits"; also very formal, for example suitable for going to the opera. Is worn by married and single women. Patterns are in the shoulder area and below the obi placed)
  • Iromuji ("Monochrome"; is often worn for the tea ceremony)
  • Comon ("Small pattern"; everyday kimono, the one with an elegant obi can also be upgraded for fancier occasions)
  • Hakama (Pleated pants; worn by men, in martial arts such as Kendo, but also from young women to graduation or in scarlet from mikoPriestesses in Shinto shrines)

Various weaving and dyeing techniques

Typical materials for kimono are silk for the transitional seasons and wool for winter. Almost every region in Japan has its own kimono-making tradition. Matsusaka momen is a cotton fabric from the city of Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture with 1500 years of tradition. These kimono are dyed with indigo and are reminiscent of denim. Occasionally, unusual materials are used. Kimono artists from the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, for example, weave the fibers of banana trees. This substance is called bashōfu. Kimono made of polyester, on the other hand, are very cheap and of course easier to clean.

Yukata - little sister of the kimono

If you go to a folk festival in Japan in the summer months matsuri, almost all visitors wear yukata. Yukata are made of light cotton and, unlike kimono, do not have an undergarment. The patterns are also less formal: women wear butterflies, dragonflies, bamboo or colorful fireworks. Modern designs do without reference to the season and use the cherry blossoms or peonies typical of spring. Funny variations are also en vogue, for example showing slices of pizza in a comic design. Models for men are kept in darker tones such as blue or gray. The hanhaba-obi the yukata is narrower than the obi for the kimono.

Wearing a yukata is a special experience: strolling between stalls, eating takoyaki (squid balls), watching the summer fireworks - that becomes a holistic experience in the yukata. Yukata beginners who want to attend a Matsuri are best served by a dressing service. Simply search the Internet for “Yukata dress up”, stating your whereabouts in Japan, to find English-speaking providers who lend out complete ensembles. Then you can be comfortably brought to the festival site by taxi.

Kimono and Yukata in Germany

Kimono and yukata are great, colorful souvenirs from a trip to Japan. Yukata are a lot cheaper and also lighter with regard to the approved case weight. The Nakamise shopping street in Tōkyō's Asakusa area offers plenty of choice. The prices are included obi between 4,000 and 8,000 yen. There are also many second-hand shops across Japan. If you want to wear the yukata at home not only as a dressing gown, but also for example on Japan Day in Düsseldorf, you will find many video instructions online for tying the obi. In major German cities there are now more and more kimono and yukata clubs that meet to practice dressing and to spend time together in these Japanese clothes.