The poetry of kimono patterns

Kimono has many attractive patterns. Here are 8 typical examples.

Homongi Kimono 'The cherry blossomes in Omuro' (1999) by Kiyokazu InoueThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN


Katami-gawari designed kimono is made of differently colored or patterned cloths for each side of the body. It is popular for the Noh costumes.

Okame sakura is a short cherry tree that can be found on the grounds of Ninna-ji temple in Kyoto.

Komon Kimono 'Waterside flowers' (2004) by Shigeaki OkumuraThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Dan-gawari (checkerboard pattern)

To make a dan-gawari designed kimono, pieces of fabric are divided horizontally and combined into a checkerboard pattern. It is popular for the Noh costumes.

Flowers of four seasons are designed in a checkerboard pattern.

Homongi Kimono 'Garden of Heian jingu in spring' (1999) by Shigeru HayakawaThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Kata-susomoyo (kimono with patterns on shoulders and below waist)

It was popular in early Edo period, especially for kosode design. Nowadays, this pattern is often seen in the design of homongi kimono.

Japanese wisterias on the shoulders.

On the hem, a scene of pond side is designed.
Please enjoy the view of the beautiful spring garden of Heian-jingu shrine on this kimono.

Homongi Kimono 'Color of Kyoto' (1999) by Kenji NakaiThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

So-moyo (all the surface of the kimono is covered with patterns)

Sometimes, kimono are adorned with small-scale patterns, sometimes, large picturesque designs are arranged on the upper and lower parts of kimono.

This kimono is decorated with the representation of 12 Chinese zodiac signs scattered all over its surface. Can you find all the 12?

A cat inside of kimonoThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

On the right inner side of the hem you can find a touch of humour from the dye artisan -- a cat who was late for the gathering of the other 12 animals and therefore wasn’t included in their zodiac circle.

Homongi Kimono 'The view of Higashiyama in spring' (1999) by Toshiki MatsuiThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Edo-tsuma pattern

In the late Edo period, kosode with patterns concentrated at the center of the hem became popular. Sometimes, patterns are placed on the inner side of the hem as well. Nowadays, Edo-tsuma-moyo designates susomoyo or kurotomesode kimono.

You can find one of the most famous temple in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera, covered with cherry blossoms on the back.

Homongi Kimono 'Family crests' (2001) by Masazumi SekinoThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Shimabara-tsuma pattern

The pattern used in Shimabara-tsuma extends up further than this of Edo-tsuma, covering the upper front of the garment and reaching the lower neckband. It was named after the place it was created -- Shimabara (courtesans' district in Kyoto).

Each butterfly-like pattern contains one family crest.

Tsukesage kimono 'Snow crystal embroided by gold' (2005) by Hirotoshi MurayamaThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Susomoyo pattern

Susomoyo pattern appears only on the hem of kimono. It appeared in the middle of Edo period and is beautifully balanced with a full-wide obi sash. These days, the pattern is frequently used to decorate not only formal tomesode kimono, but also fashionable homongi kimono.

Many snow crystals are on the hem. The monotone kimono is also cool.

Homongi Kimono 'Wind in autumn' (2005) by Yasuo AonoThe Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN

Gakubuchi pattern (literally, “picture frame”)

Gakubuchi pattern in the shape of letter L runs along the border of the hem and ends on the lower part of kimono. The pattern (occasionally placed on the shoulder as well) is emphasized by a plain single-colour background. It is widely used in contemporary homongi kimono design.

You can find the shape of letter L with autumn flowers.

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