Komon (小紋)

Komon is a kind of Japanese kimono (Japanese clothes). As it literally means, komon has fine pattern all over the whole kinomo. While homongi (semi-ceremonial kimono) and tsukesage have patterns placed so that shoulder side is up, komon is patterned regardless of the direction. For that reason, it may not be worn as formal or full dress (the reason for excluding Edo-komon is mentioned later).

Regardless of the size or density of the pattern, a kimono that has a pattern without a particular direction is generically called 'komon' nowadays. There are various komon, such as 'Bingata komon,' 'tie-dyed komon,' and 'printed cotton komon,' that depend upon the dyeing technique. Among them, 'Edo-komon,' 'Kyo-komon,' and 'Kaga-komon' are recognized as examples of the main techniques of 'komon'.

Tokyo some-komon

This is komon that originated in the dyeing of kamishimo (samurai costume, old ceremonial costume), which feudal lords wore during the Edo period.

At present, it is classified into two types, the 'Edo-komon' and the 'Tokyo oshare-komon.'

It was recognized as one of the Traditional Japan Crafts on June 2, 1976.


It originated from the pattern of kamishimo, which feudal lords wore during the Edo period. Meanwhile, families of feudal lords started to compete for luxury of patterns, and it was regulated by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). For that reason, small patterns were created so that it looked like a solid color from a distance. As a result, it turned out to be a highly skilled dyeing technique. On the other hand, a pattern that could be used by each feudal lord was determined. The signature patterns are 'sharks' for the Tokugawa clan of the Kishu Domain, 'gyogi,' 'Kakutoshi,' (the above three patterns are called 'sanyaku' - the notable three), 'pine needles' for the Tokugawa clan, 'omeshiju' for Tokugawa clan, 'mansuji,' 'kikubishi' for the Maeda clan of the Kaga Domain, 'daisho arare' for the Shimazu clan of the Satsuma Domain, and 'gomagara' for the Nabeshima clan of Saga Domain.

Meanwhile, common people began to imitate the komon. They made ordinarily objects like tools into a fine pattern and enjoyed the demand for this fashion.

Edo-komon is characterized by dyed using a paper pattern. However, since the paper patterns could not be made in Edo, all of them were ordered from Ise (Ise dyed pattern paper). At present, shortage of successors to paper pattern artisans became a larger issue of Edo-komon, rather than dye artisan.

It depends on design, but Edo-komon exhibits a high formality because it used to be worn by a feudal lord as described above. It is useful kimono such that may be used as a semi-formal dress since it is treated like iromuji (solid colored kimono) when the family crest is added on the back.

Edo-komon' was named in order to differentiate from 'Kyo-Komon' when Kosuke KOMIYA of Tokyo was designated as the holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in 1955.

Tokyo oshare-komon

It is made by using modern pattern and dye, employing the technique of Tokyo some-komon. It is called Tokyo oshare-komon in order to differentiate it from Edo-komon.


Although various types of kimono had been manufactured using a stencil dyeing technique in Kyoto for a long time, it was after the Meiji period that komon production, fully employing stencil dyeing, flourished.
Fusing of the bright designs of Kyoto yuzen and stencil dyeing is generally called 'Kyo-Komon.'
In contrast to the Edo-komon of a single color, it is made by multicolor dyeing. Therefore, its single pattern is larger and its appearance is gorgeous than Edo-komon, and it has more concreteness to the design than an abstract design.

Kaga komon

Being influenced by 'Kyo-Komon,' mentioned above, 'Kaga-komon' started to be manufactured in Ishikawa Prefecture by using the technique of Kaga Yuzen for coloring.

On the other hand, there is also 'Kaga komon' that was influenced by 'Edo-komon' in Ishikawa Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]