The origin of kimono

Kimono is Japanese traditional & unique dress showing the Japanese sense of fashion. Let's explore the origin of kimono.

The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Tomesode Kimono 'the festival of Mifune' (2001) by Susumu TakehaneThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Silk robes that came from China around the 3rd century

Japanese kimono (in other words, ”gofuku”) derived from the garments worn in China during the Wu dynasty. From 8th to 11th century, Japanese style of layering silk robes was established.

The first-layer garment that was usually worn underneath all the robes is called kosode. At the time, kosode was the preferred homewear.

Homongi Kimono 'Gion matsuri festival' by Toshio KoitoThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

From homewear to working wear

In the late 12th century, warrior class came to power. Samurai preferred utility more than formality and started to use kosode not as casual but as official wear. Eventually, kosode got more decorative dyeing.

Citizens enjoying the Gion Matsuri festival, which has long history and was designated as a world intangible heritage.

Costume for Noh players (1999)The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Kosode as an origin of modern kimono

Do you know the Japanese traditional theatre, “Noh”? Its origin goes back to 14th century and it was just like today’s popular musical. In the late 16th century, actors used kosode as Noh play costumes which were very gorgeous indeed -- decorated with great techniques of weaving, embroidery, dyeing. They became the origin of modern kimono.

Solidity that high technique of weave created!

Noh-mask, From the collection of: The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN
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One of the typical Noh play masks, Koomote. It represents a young woman.

Experience of surigata yuzen dyeingThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

So this kosode became the origin of modern kimono.

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