Uchikake (打掛)

Uchikake (打掛) is a kind of kimono (or wafuku, either of them means Japanese traditional clothing) worn by Japanese women. This is originally the kimono for spring, autumn, or winter, but in the case of the costumes for rent for a wedding, the uchikake for summer made of sha (silk gauze) are seen on rare occasions. It is also called "kaidori". And in the red-light district, it is sometimes called "kake" or "shikake", too. Some brides may wear the uchikake at a wedding.


The uchikake is tailored one size longer in height than the kimono worn inside it, and it has a thick part called "fuki" along the hem which is heavily padded with wadding.

"Fuki" is found in a kimono in which one does not make ohashori (tucking up a kimono and holding the tuck in place with a cord) and trails the hem on the floor like the uchikake, and one of its purposes is to prevent the hem of the clothing from clinging to the feet by making a thick part around the hem.

Besides, making "fuki" extremely thick will bring about an effect that it makes the wearer look taller than she really is by applying the enhanced perspective method.

It is decorated as if pictures were painted on the entire clothing, ornamented with not only embroidery and shibori (tie-dyeing) but also surihaku (impressing of gold or silver foil on fabric) or nuihaku (embroidery and impressing of gold or silver foil on fabric).


People began to wear the uchikake in the Muromachi period when the women of the rich buke (samurai family) put on the uchikake over the home garment called kosode (a kimono with short sleeves worn as under clothing by the upper classes).

In the Edo period,the women of higher position such as joro (the highest grade ladies-in-waiting) and churo (the middle grade ladies-in-waiting) who serve in the O-oku (the inner halls of Edo-jo Castle where the wife of the Shogun and her servants reside) wore the uchikake. Senior court ladies in the Dairi (Imperial Palace) and women of general court nobles also wore this on a daily basis.

In the late Edo period, wealthy townswomen in the Kyoto and Osaka area or Edo had come to put it on at a wedding and the like. Moreover, it was the formal attire for Tayu (geisha of the highest rank) of certain yukaku (a red-light district) such as Yoshiwara, Edo (Tokyo Metropolis), and Shimabara, Kyoto, too.

[Original Japanese]