Traditional Attire

Traditional Attire Series of Asia – Japan (Part 8)

Japan is a country renowned for its culture, traditions, attires, food and spectacular landscape. The costumes are unique and artistic with intricate designs. Their dresses symbolize their way of life and national integrity.


Kimono is the prominent traditional costume of Japan. It is worn by both men and women and is available in various patterns and designs. The material used mainly is silk but some of them are made by light cotton material as well to beat the summer weather. The dress is transformed from long pieces of cloth into a straight-lined ankle-length T-shaped robe. The age, social status and marital status of especially women are determined by the kimonos. It is wrapped around the body with the left side overlapping the right side. Both the sides are secured by with a layer of Koshi Himo belt and embellished further with an obi belt. The Japanese people wear the dress with the traditional footwear called Zori or Geta and split-toe socks called Tabi.


Yukata is a summer robe similar to kimonos made of cotton or synthetic fabric. The dress is especially worn by both men and women during Cherry Blossom viewing parties, fireworks, religious festivals, and also at public baths. Women’s Yukata has mostly long sleeves whereas the men’s one has shorter sleeves. The women’s outfit is vibrant with bright colors and elegant designs. The men’s outfit is comparatively simple concerning color and design.


Hakama are worn over Kimono and is traditionally worn by the men. It is mostly worn during martial arts or often as formal wear. In earlier times there were variant styles of Hakama worn by the craftsmen, farmers, academics, and samurais. The dress is tied at the waist and the length extends till the ankles. Hakama is available in two types. The ones worn by women are called Andon Hakama which are wide pleated skirts. The other is worn by men and is called Umanori Hakama which are divided skirts resembling loose trousers. Hakama is commonly found with black and white-colored stiff, striped silk and in navy blue. 


Furisode is a type of Kimono worn by the single unmarried women in Japan. The dresses are mostly gifted by their parents at 20 years of age to attend the Coming of Age ceremonies. They are expensive compared to the other dresses in Japan. The feature which distinguishes the attire from the others is its long sleeves accompanied by elegant floral patterns portraying youth and humanity.


Haori is a lightweight coat or jacket worn over a Kimono. They are worn open with no belts to tie them around. Women wear Haori often over their western outfits and are available in myriad patterns and designs. Men also wear Haori which are simple in design but have decorative linings inside. In modern times, Haori symbolizes the trendy fashion icon.


Jinbei is the traditional dress for men especially worn during the summers inside the house or at firework festivals. It has now become famous among women as well. The attire consists of two pieces, the upper part being a short-sleeved jacket and the lower part being short pants. The unique part of the dress is that the sleeves are not directly attached to the coat but through linen threads which enable ventilation and appropriate air circulation thus keeping the body cool.


Happi a robe-like cotton jacket worn over a dress. It is especially worn by the male and the female performers during a dance or any festivals. The front of the dress is open and is tied at the waist with a belt. There are prints of icons or spectacular patterns embellishing the dress. Along with the attire, a headband is worn to ward off evil spirits. It is made of red or white striped cloth.


Susohiki is a special traditional attire of Japan. It is worn by the Geisha ladies of Japan. They are the skilled performers of traditional and classical Japanese dances. It resembles a kimono but is long with the skirt trailing along the floor. The dress is also worn by Maikowho, a performer who sings, dances and plays the shamisen (three-stringed Japanese restaurant). Susohiki is available in multiple colors, patterns, and designs. The important accessory of Susohiki is Kanzashi. It is an ornament worn on the head, enriched with gold and silver metal.


It is a robe-like coat worn especially worn over a bridal dress. Cranes in Japan are considered an auspicious symbol for weddings. Hence the robe is adorned by images of cranes colored in red.

There are few other dresses in Japan like the Tsukesage with modest patters and worn for parties by the women, Tomesode worn by married women, Iro-Muji with no design and worn by women for parties and meetings, Mofuku for mourning, Houmungi worn by both married and single women for parties and weddings and Hiyoku worn under the Kimono. 

By Kuntala

A blogger interested in travelling and exploring new places and sharing ideas with all. Curious about the unique features of a place and its ethereal beauty.

43 replies on “Traditional Attire Series of Asia – Japan (Part 8)”

I honestly didn’t realize there were so many different styles of traditional clothing there. I have been to China before but not to Japan. I will have to make it out there eventually. Kimonos truly are beautiful.

I never knew there were so many different reasons for wearing these pieces…. For example some of these pieces are worn for celebrations or certain events while others are worn by people in certain careers. This is all very interesting and the attire is absolutely gorgeous!

Glad that you touch based on some of the traditional outfits here in Japan. Jinbei are also wore by kids as well as it is easy to put on (and if you know preschoolers, mom would love to put on a Jinbei than a kimono). Also, Furisode are traditionally made for unmarried ladies, I have a kimono that has red inside the sleeves that designates me as a single lady. A kimono dealer told me the red inner sleeves is to tell others that the woman is single.

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