Wafuku 和装

The Japanese dressing room

Wafuku is traditional Japanese clothing. Not only it is visually stunning but it has a fascinating history. Here's a quick rundown of the essentials of the traditional Japanese wardrobe!

  • Fundoshi 褌

A fundoshi is a traditional male undergarment that only matsuri participants continue to wear today, during chariot and parade processions. In a similar vein the loincloth worn by sumo wrestlers, called a mawashi, is a type of rigid (and much stronger) fundoshi.

  • Furisode 振袖

The furisode is a kimono-style gown with colorful patterns and very long sleeves that can reach more than a meter in length! It is unmarried girls who traditionally wear this silk kimono; especially at their seijin shiki, or coming of age ceremony.

  • Haori 羽織

A haori is a loose jacket often without any external pattern, originally only worn by men. It is now also worn by women.

A an 18th century furisode

  • Hakama 袴

Hakama are a type of long, pleated trouser, worn in feudal times by samurai and nobles. The seven folds of a hakama (five in front the and two at the back) represent the virtues of the samurai. It is worn today mainly during ceremonies and by martial arts practitioners, Shinto priests, and Buddhist monks.


Archers wearing hakama in Kyoto

  • Homongi 訪問着

Th homongi replaces the furisode when a woman gets married. The designs are often more original and run the full length of the kimono.

  • Kimono 着物

Kimono, which literally means "thing to wear", is a generic term for Japanese traditional costume. There are, however, many different styles of kimono that vary depending on the shape, colors and fabrics; each with its own specific name.

Kimonos made using the kaga yuzen technique


  • Kosode 小袖

Made of silk, the kosode is a T-shaped garment, shorter than a kimono. Considered initially as an undergarment, it is from the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and held closed by an obi (belt) like a kimono. It is distinguished by its short, narrow sleeves.

  • Obi 帯

The obi holds a kimono robe closed, crossed over the chest. Depending on the type of knot, in front or behind, this cloth belt indicates the social status of a person.

The differences between a kosode (left) and kimono (right)

An intricately tied obi holding a kimono closed

  • Tomesode 留袖

This formal kimono is divided into two types: the irotomesode 色留袖 and the kurotomesode 黒留袖. Always black in color, the kurotomesode is decorated with gold and silver wire motifs only in its lower part. It is a very formal garment worn by the mothers of the bride and groom at a wedding ceremony, or by geisha when entertaining. The irotomesode, like the kurotomesode, is a solid color with no pattern above the waist. It is an elegant and formal kimono, reserved for married women or older unmarried women. The tomesode often have the family crest printed on the sleeves, chest and back.

  • Uchikake 打掛

The uchikake is a long wedding coat with a train. The bride wears it open over a kimono called a kakeshita. Particularly valuable, it can be entirely white or brocade and adorned with lucky charms (flowers, pines, cranes).

A bride in traditional costume including the uchikake, wedding coat with a train

Girls in yukata

Ant the Breton


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