Wafuku (和服)

Wafuku is traditional Japanese clothing. Wafuku means the same as kimono that is used in a narrow sense (further details will be described later). Wafuku has been regarded as Japanese national costume in modern times.

Meanings of Wafuku, Kimono and Gofuku

Wafuku means the same as what the Chinese characters for the word indicate, i.e., '和' Japanese '服' clothing.
This word was coined in the Meiji period for the purpose of indicating Japanese clothing in contrast to Western '洋' clothing '服.'
As the word Kimono '着物' generally covers the whole sense of clothing to be described later, Wafuku '和服' is preferred to differentiate Japanese clothing from other clothing.

Kimono originally has a simple meaning of 'things to wear' as the Chinese characters indicate, i.e., '着' wear '物' thing. In fact, as the Japanese people used the word Kimono to indicate clothing in general sense before Western style clothing has prevailed, the word Kimono was not used to differentiate the Japanese culture from the Western culture. As more Japanese people began to wear Western style clothes after the Meiji period, the word Wafuku was adopted to indicate traditional Japanese clothing in contrast to Western style clothing. The word Kimono used these days generally has two meanings--The first meaning is Wafuku. The words 'Kimono,' 'Wafuku,' and 'Gofuku' are frequently used as the same meaning. The second meaning is clothing. When mother says to her naked child 'Wear Kimono,' someone recognizes the word Kimono as clothing, and others recognizes it as traditional Japanese clothing. Whether the word Kimono in 'Wear Kimono' means clothing or traditional Japanese clothing might depend on the listener's generation, and the dialect the listener uses.

It is considered that the word Gofuku originated in the introduction of textiles and manufacturing techniques from Wu 呉 in China during the Three Kingdoms period in China. In Japan, silk clothing that was called Gofuku was originally differentiated form cotton clothing that was called Futomono such that they were sold at different shops. The shops that deal with Japanese clothing is generally called 'Gofuku-ya,' although the word Gofuku is not specifically used to indicate Japanese clothing. as frequently as Wafuku and Kimono.

The Japanese people used the word Kimono to indicate clothing in general during the sixteenth century which was long before the Meiji period when the word Wafuku was coined in Japan--The word Kimono was recognized by the European people as the word to indicate Japanese clothing like the word Wafuku in the modern Japanese sense, and the word Kimono with that sense have prevailed in the world so that what the Japanese people call Wafuku is called Kimono in the world. Kimono sometimes generally indicates a form of clothing the sides of which overlap in front that is widely seen in East Asia as well as indicating Japanese Wafuku.
As the phonology was drastically changed in the English language after importing the word Kimono, the pronunciation of Kimono has been near to 'Kamono' or 'Kaimono' than 'Kimono.'

The word Fukushoku in commonly used Modern Japanese collectively indicates clothing and accessories. Fukushoku can be applied to both Japanese clothes and Western clothes.

Jomon and Yayoi periods

Japanese clothes during the Jomon period are mostly unknown. Fragments of textiles and sacks with strips have been discovered from the Jomon period sites, which proved that the Jomon people had techniques of spinning thread from plant fiber such as China grass and hemp as well as making cloth from the threads. It is supposed that the Jomon people made clothes out of the textiles and wore them. The clay figures in the shape of human beings have been found from the Jomon period sites and considered to be source materials for inferring the form of clothing of the Jomon people. As the clay figures are designed quite differently from real human beings, it is apparent that the figures were not made to represent real Jomon people; therefore, it is doubtful that they represent the real form of clothing from those days.

No source materials to indicate clothing has been found from the sites of the Yayoi period that was characterized by rice cultivation in paddy fields. Clothes worn by the Yayoi people can only be inferred from an article 'Gishiwajinden' included in part of 'Toiden' of the book 'Gisho' written in China. According to the description of the Gishiwajinden, Wajin, the Japanese people of those days, simply wore wide cloths secured by broad sashes. Incidentally, as 'Gishiwajinden' is a description of Wakoku, which is the name of Japan used by ancient China, and the people of Wakoku, it is highly possible that the article was about a country that once existed in the Japanese islands. On the other hand, the accuracy of 'Gishiwajinden' has been questioned for a long time. For further details, see "Gishiwajinden."

Kofun and Asuka periods

Japanese clothes during the Kofun period are mostly unknown. Only the "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" the oldest chronicles written in the Japanese islands as well as "Fudoki" were available as historical sources for the Kofun period, i.e., until the middle seventh century. As for archeological materials, only hollow clay figures provide a clue to infer the clothes worn during the Kofun period. Based on the materials, it is supposed that clothes for both female and male were separated into two parts for the upper half of the body and the lower half of the body. But as neither "Kojiki" nor "Nihonshoki" provide designs of clothes, and few source materials about the periods remain, clothes during the Kofun period are mostly unknown.

In 603, in Japan, Prince Shotoku established twelve court ranks to distinguish superior officials by twelve colors of their caps. Only "Nihonshoki" describes the period when the twelve court ranks were established, but does not mention the relationship between the colors and ranks. "Nihonshoki" does not provide the design of clothes.

At the end of the 7th century, the name of the country was changed to Nippon. From 1972, the study started on the inside wall paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tomb considered to have been painted from the end of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth century. This wall painting show the only figures that depict people during the Asuka period. Male and female figures in the wall paintings and the description in the "Nihonshoki" were the only archaeological sources on clothes during the Asuka period. According to the report from the scholars, all the figures in the wall paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tomb, both male and female, wear their clothes with right side over the left. In the figures, the garments worn on the upper part of the body hang out over the garments for the lower part of the body. It is supposed that the belts worn over the garments in the figures are made of textiles instead of leather.

Nara period

Japanese clothes during the Nara period are mostly unknown. The major sources available to study clothes during the Nara period are documents that include "Ryo-no-gige" (the colleted commentaries on the Ryo code with the efficacy of law) and "Ryo-no-shuge" (the colleted commentaries on the Ryo code without the efficacy of law) and "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued) and "Nihongi Ryaku" (Summary of Japanese Chronologies), and the materials kept in the facilities like the Shosoin Treasure House. Neither of "Ryo-no-gige," "Ryo-no-shuge," and "Shoku Nihongi," provide examples of clothing.

Both of the Taiho Ritsuryo Code promulgated in 701 and the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, a revised edition of the Taiho Ritsuryo Code, promulgated in 718 contain the clothing codes. The Taiho Ritsuryo code does not exist today. The Yoro Ritsuryo Code does not remain today either, but contents of the code can be inferred from the "Ryo-no-gige" and "Ryo-no-shuge." The clothing codes in the Taiho Ritsuryo Code and the Yoro Ritsuryo Code prescribed the clothes that should be worn in the Imperial Court as the formal clothing worn by the court nobles in the Imperial Court called 'Raifuku,' the clothing worn by the court nobles in the Imperial Court called 'Chofuku,' and the uniforms.
Recently, formal clothing during the Nara period is pronounced 'Raifuku' instead of the ordinary pronunciation 'Reifuku.'
According to the clothing code in the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, formal clothing during the Nara period was worn to attend important religious services, the Imperial Enthronement Ritual called Daijosai or Ooname no matsuri, and on New Year's Day.
According to the clothing code in the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, Chofuku were worn to attend the government meeting called 'Chokai' that was held once a month in a open court and when the court nobles does things called 'Kuji.'
The Chokai during the Nara period does not mean the morning meetings generally held in Modern Japan. It is considered that Chofuku for military officers were secured by leather belts. Uniforms during the Nara period were for the government officials, who did not have any privileged status, to wear them when performing official duty. The clothing codes in the Taiho Ritsuryo Code and the Yoro Ritsuryo Code do not prescribe clothing for the common people who had nothing to do with the Imperial Court. According to the clothing code of the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, the forms and colors of Raifuku, Chofuku, and uniforms differ to differentiate each status and official position.

According to the clothing code of the Yoro Ritsuryo Code, Raifuku and Chofuku for military officers were prescribed to ware garments called 'Iou.'
According to the scholars, the Iou were made of different colored clothing to differentiate ranks. Iou had the same form as Ou. According to "Koki" (Ancient records), Ou were clothes with the underarm parts of the sleeves open and the part covering the body was not layered. A form of clothes called 'Ketteki no ho' made in the later period is the same as Ou in that its underarm parts of the sleeves were made open and the part covering the body was not layered.

It is considered that Raifuku for civil officers included layered clothing during 718 when the Yoro Ritsuryo Code was promulgated. Layered clothing for civil officers might have been the origin of clothes called 'Hoeki no ho' made in the later period.

The clothing and accessories during the Nara period were influenced by the Tang Dynasty in mainland China. Many theories state that the clothes were worn with the left side folded over the right in the mainland China during those days.
In "Shoku Nihongi," there is a description of a policy carried out during 719 that contains the sentence '初令天下百姓右襟.'
The sentence means that all people should wear clothes with the left side over the right.

Heian period

For clothing and accessories for the Japanese Imperial family and the nobles during this period, see 'Heian Shozoku.'
Clothing for the common people during the Heian period is mostly unknown.

Kamakura and Muromachi periods

Based on the jacket called 'Suikan' worn by the common people, a garment for the upper body called 'Hitatare' was designed. During the Kamakura period, Hitatare became the formal clothing for the military family. During the Muromachi period, Hitatare became the full-dress for the military family.

Daimon and Suou were derived from Hitatare.

Female clothes were continuously simplified. The train of the clothes were gradually shortened to be a pleated skirt, and that was finally abolished, which means the Female clothes became one-piece.
Since then, women wore waistcloth and a light wrapping skirt over kimono with short sleeves called 'Kosode.'
Uchikake, a longer Kosode, began to be worn over Kosode.

The first half of the Edo period

During the Edo period, the clothes were further simplified and 'Kamishimo' that is the combination of a sleeveless jacket called 'Kataginu' and trousers called 'Hakama' appeared. Kosode prevailed among the common people. As theatrical performances including Kabuki became popular and players clothing were printed in colored woodblock prints, the common people began to wear more luxurious clothes. From the Confucian perspective, the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) tried to cope with the trend by promulgating the ordinance of frugality, but the common people's craze for clothing was not suppressed and, influenced by the tea ceremony, they sought to wear subdued, but expensive clothes.

The way of tying Obi sash and braid was developed, and people began to tie Obi at the back.

The latter half of the Edo period

As Japan implemented the seclusion policy and raw silk was no longer imported from abroad, most of the raw silk consumed domestically was produced in Japan. During the Edo period, some of the common people wore kimono made of relatively low-priced silk, but when the great famine of 1783 to 1788 occurred, the Edo bakufu forbade the common people from wearing any silk products in 1785. Since then, the common people wore clothing made of cotton or hemp.

As the 'Furisode,' a long-sleeved kimono became popular among women, a bridal costume was also derived from 'Furisode.'

In 1864 when the Edo bakufu raised the army of the punitive expedition of Choshu Domain on the pretext of the skirmish at the Kinmon Gate, the bakufu decided to make a Western style military uniform for the army, and a merchant Jihei MORITA in Kodenmacho in Edo undertook the order and managed to tailor 2,000 military uniforms by trial and error. Those was the first Western clothes mass-produced in Japan as far as recorded.

Meiji and Taisho periods

During the Meiji period, backed by government measures to promote industry, modern silk spinning mills were constructed, which further increased the production of silk. As Japan opened the country and trade with countries abroad grew, the export of silk yarn and silk products accounted for a major part of the total amount of export; Japan began to be regarded as the world's silk supplier. As the mass-production of silk began, the price of silk was no longer much higher than other products. Since that period, female Wafuku started to be made of various fabrics. To accompany the trend, a variety of silk textiles increased like chirimen, rinzu, omeshi, and meisen. The finished silk textile was further processed by the developed Yuzen dyeing technique, which could create new patterns. Silk textiles with Komonzome small dyed motifs had still been in fashion since the Edo period, which became popular to make into traditional best clothes; on the other hand, textiles woven with pre-dyed threads known as Shima stripe and Kasuri splash patterns were also popular.

Since the Meiji period, the nobles and people who frequently meet Westerners were relatively early to accustomed themselves to wear Western clothes. It is considered that leading political figures wore Western clothes to show that Japan was committed to absorb advanced science and technology from the Western countries and modernize the country as a gesture in order to be advantageous in talks with the Western countries. On the other hand, the common people kept the traditional habit and customs handed down from the Edo period because Western clothes were still too expensive for them and because they highly valued or cared for the traditional sense of beauty. When clothing and accessories were imported from the Western countries, western clothes were gradually produced in Japan. The Japanese people collectively called traditional Japanese clothing 'Kimono,' i.e., the word 'Kimono' originally meant 'things to wear." In order to differentiate the clothes that had been called 'Kimono' from the western clothes, the word 'Wafuku' was coined.

In the early period of wearing Western clothes, the Japanese people used to rent them from clothes rental shops. During the Meiji period, western clothes were mainly worn by men as their street clothes and formal clothing, and they wore Japanese clothes in daily life. Even the scale was small, western clothes rental shops and shops dealing with western clothes were gradually opened across Japan.

Since 1871 when the Imperial instruction to make western style uniforms for the army and government officials was issued (Grand Council Proclamations No. 399), police officers, railway workers, and teachers adapted western clothes as their working clothes. Males were required to wear military uniforms that had been already westernized then. Stiff collar western clothes designed based on the army military uniform were adopted as male student uniforms.

During the Meiji and Taisho periods, a style of wearing a pleated skirt over kimono was popular among female students as their daily clothes both inside and outside of school. The pleated skirt is a kind of Wafuku. This style took hold in Japanese culture, and the style is still popular among female students as a formal dress to attend entrance and graduation ceremonies. During the period, female students generally wore Japanese clothes except for the nobles and teachers of female students; but from the latter half of the Taisho period, increasing number of schools adopt sailor suits as their school uniforms to replaced the pleated skirt style.

Some women affirmed that Japanese women should wear western clothes and started campaigns for that purpose. In the Daily Life Improvement Lectures held from May 4 to 11, 1922, Hamako TSUKAMOTO gave a lecture titled 'Improvement of clothing,' in which she said as follows.
'We should thoroughly change our clothing to make it more beautiful, convenient, and economical to match our Modern lifestyle.'
For that purpose, I recommend that women should wear only western clothes.'
Takako KAETSU (1867 - 1949) wrote "Keizaikaizen Korekara no Saiho" in 1922 published from Nihon Fukuso Kaizenkai Shuppanbu, in the preface of which she wrote 'In my opinion, the goal of improvement of Japanese clothing should be Western clothing or something close to Western clothing.'

When the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred in 1923, a great number of women in Japanese clothing were victimized because of the nature of Japanese clothing that restricts movement of the body; in the next year 1924, 'Tokyo Women and Children Clothing Association' started, and since then, clothing for Japanese women has been westernized.

Japanese clothing, which originated from Han Chinese traditional ethnic clothing, currently has the closest design to the Chinese Hanfu clothing, the ethnic clothing of the Han race. For this reason, part of the Chinese who fled the Qing Dynasty for Japan and engaged in revolutionary movement against the Qing Dynasty around 1900 during the Meiji period always wore Japanese clothing instead of Hanfu to show their resistance as the Han race against the Qing Dynasty that was ruled by the Manchurians.
(The Chinese clothing Quipao, currently known as one-piece Chinese dress for women and Kung Fu suits appear in Kung Fu Films starring famous stars including Bruce Lee, originated in the ethnic clothing of the Manchurians.)
(The Manchurians, as the ruling class, forced the Han race to wear them.)
(The Hanfu resembles Japanese clothing more so than the Quipao.)

Until the end of WWII in 1945

From 1881 to around 1945, female pupils in Japanese elementary schools learned hand-sewing to make Wafuku in class at a certain grade. The purpose of this hand-sewing class was neither to make them professional sewers nor to train them as tailors working in factories. The purpose of this hand-sewing class was to teach them basic Japanese hand-sewing so they can sew clothes for themselves and their families, which was encouraged in those days. In those days, people generally did not have sewing machines, and clothes were made by hand-sewing.

In 1935, DuPont in USA succeeded in synthesizing a fiber called Nylon. From around 1939, mass-production of Nylon in factories began. As Nylon was a fiber that substituted silk, the Japanese export of silk yarn and silk products started to decrease.

In 1938, a magazine "Fujin Koron" hosted a design contest for female clothes in emergency.

From November 14 to December 10, 1939, the Japanese government collected designs from the public for male civilian clothing in competition for a prize. After examining the subscribed designs, opinions were changed and alterations added to the designs.

After that, on July 6, 1940, Limitation Rules on Manufacturing and Selling of Luxury Items and so forth was promulgated, and enacted on July 7 in the same year, and known as the '7.7 prohibitory decree.'
Textiles with 'Eba-gara' pattern, embroidery, woven with gold and silver threads, expensive pongee fabric and the like were classified into luxury items and were prohibited. Under the circumstances, white replaceable neckpieces became popular.

On November 2, 1940, the Japanese government promulgated the National Uniform Edict as a kind of law. In the National Uniform Edict, the national uniform was prescribed as formal clothing for males. The National Uniform Edict did not mention clothes other than formal clothing for males.
According to the edict, the national uniform was prepared two in types called 'Kogo' and 'Otsugo.'
For each; Kogo and Otsugo national uniforms, designs were defined for 'Joi' or outer clothing and 'Chui' or middle clothing, 'Hakama,' which was the same word as trousers worn over Kimono, but collectively meant clothing for the lower half of the body, 'cap,' 'overcoat,' 'gloves,' and 'shoes.'
Both Joi and Chui were clothing for the upper half of the body. Joi were worn over Chui. Joi was the open-necked jacket and Chui was the close-necked jacket. Both types had straight sleeves and buttons to secure the front, which means that the national uniform prescribed in the National Uniform Edict was not Wafuku.

In the National Uniform Edict, the combinations of the clothes were strictly prescribed for occasions requiring full dress, i.e., for wearing the national uniform as formal clothing to attend ceremonies.
For occasions other than requiring full dress, clothes were only specified as 'discretionary.'
For the full dress Kogo type national uniform, it was specified that 'brown' should be selected for all of Joi, 'Hakama' that seemed like trousers, cap, and overcoat.
For occasions other than requiring full dress with the Kogo type national uniform, it was specified that only Joi and 'Hakama' should be brown and other clothes were specified as 'discretionary.'
The Joi national uniform was required for occasions of in full dress. As Chui part the national uniform was not an undershirt, people could appear in public in only Chui without wearing Joi.
For the full dress Kogo type national uniform, the peaked cap should be selected, and for other occasions, it was specified as 'discretionary.'
For full dress with Otsugo type cap, the army forage cap may be worn, but other caps may be worn, and for other occasions it was specified as 'discretionary.'
According to the National Uniform Edict, the national uniform was defined as full dress and formal clothing, and that should be worn on occasions requiring a person to wear a jacket. For other occasions, the people did not have the duty to wear the national uniform. As it was decided that the national uniform was full dress by the National Uniform Edict, men wore the national full dress uniform at wedding ceremonies as a bridegroom or when attending a funeral ceremony.

The National Uniform Edict did not include penal provisions. There were not any laws to require that men should wear the national uniform. The people were allowed to freely choose their everyday clothes. Private companies mass-produced national uniforms in their factories, and a great number of the national uniforms were distributed among the people. Some of the rich people had the national uniform custom tailored to fit. The Great Japan National Uniform Association, an organization for spreading the national uniform among the people, published and distributed a periodical "Kokuminfuku." Until the end of war in 1945, all the male clothes produced were national uniforms, and as there had been a sign of preparation for the mainland battle, an increasing number of men were obliged to wear the national uniforms.

Until 1942, the then Ministry of Health and Welfare held a social gathering and a study meeting for studying the improvement of female clothing in those days. Female clothing specialists attended the meeting. In 1942, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a new form of female standard clothing. One of the objects defining female standard clothing was to save cloth. There has not been any authorization to force women to wear standard female clothing. Only the administrative official document remained on the standard female clothing as an Understanding of the Vice Minister Meeting 'Regarding the standard female clothing' written prior to prescribing the standard female clothing. The Understanding of the Vice Minister Meeting 'Regarding the standard female clothing' does not prescribe the specific design of the clothing, but states what kind of design is required for the clothing.

Standard female clothing were prepared in two types called 'Kogata' western style and 'Otsugata' Japanese style. For both 'Kogata' and 'Otsugata,' several variations were prescribed. Both Kogata and Otsugata had a style called 'active clothing' designed with top priority on being practical. Kogata had two forms: A style separated into a garment for the upper half of the body and skirt; and a one-piece style. A form of Otsugata was Wafuku that was the typical form of female Wafuku in those days separated into one part for the upper half of the body with short sleeves and another part covering the lower half of the body. That is to say, it was a two-piece Wafuku separated into two parts one for the upper half and one for the lower half of the body. The Kogata garment covering the lower half of the body was slacks for separately covering the legs. The Otsugata garment covering the lower half of the body was baggy pants called Monpe. Monpe was a kind of Hakama used in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region to keep out the cold, when working in the fields, and used as everyday clothing until the 1930s. As a kind of Hakama, Monpe can be categorized into Wafuku. Both slacks and Monpe were separate garments used for covering the legs. Although it is said that an elastic band is not attached to Monpe because of shortage of rubber bands during the war, Monpe originally had a band attached to tie around waist instead of an elastic band.

Standard female clothing did not prevail despite the expectations of the designers. The sixth article of the Understanding of the Vice Minister Meeting 'Regarding standard female clothing,' states that the clothing should be designed based upon the assumption that they were to be produced in each house. These days, some people assert that women were forced to do the labor of hand-sewing in wartime, but women had generally made and mended clothing in each household for herself and her families as part of their household chores before WWII. Standard female clothing was neither mass-produced in factories nor distributed in large numbers, in fact. It was expected that the standard female clothing should be hand-sewn by women in each household for herself and with her own facilities recycling unused cloth and old clothes. Women in each household were not forced to produce standard female clothing, but entrusted to determine whether or not to produce them. Therefore, women did not have to make standard female clothing, and some women designed their own original clothes that were slightly different from standard female clothing at their own discretion.
Some issues of women's magazines were published with paper patterns for standard female clothing as 'Special supplements for national emergency.'
Monpe for women were suitable for active work more so than traditional Wafuku. But some men did not value them much because women did not look elegant in Monpe. From around 1940, the government more frequently encouraged women to wear Monpe as a garment for the lower half of the body for outdoor work. The encouragement did not work to increase the number of women wearing Monpe, but an increasing number of women began to wear Monpe in preparation for air raids. As women were encouraged to participate in air-raid drills in active clothes like Monpe, lots of women wore Monpe during the air-raid drills. The US forces more frequently launched air raids on civilians from above the Japanese mainland such that before the end of war in 1945, some areas were air-raided almost everyday. As more civilians were victimized by air raids, more numbers of women began to wear Monpe or slacks.

Chiyo NAKAYAMA wrote in "Nihon Fujin Yososhi" (Japanese Women's Western clothing History):
I wore neither Kogata nor Otsugata standard female clothing in wartime.'
Women around me didn't wear them either, which means that the neither type of standard female clothing were hardly worn.'
The government failed to embody the Japanese spirit with the female standard clothes as intended.'
When air raids were launched, all women wore slacks and Monpe.'
The women did not ware them as standard female clothing, although they were specified as "active clothing" of the standard female clothing.'
As they were called clothes for decisive battle, they must be worn unconditionally.'

On June 4, 1943, an Outline covering Wartime Clothing Simplification was decided by the Cabinet. The object of the Outline was to simplify clothing and to avoid useless consumption and to save textile goods. The Outline of Wartime Clothing Simplification was something like a guideline without authorization for the people who were obligated to make a sincere effort, but later, a law was enacted to promote this outline. The Outline of Wartime Clothing Simplification stated that when the male clothing is produced, the color would be left to the discretion of the producer, but the shape should be limited to the Otsugo national uniform or close to it. The outline stated that when uniforms for male students, except for elementary school, are produced, the national Otsugo uniform should be produced. The outline stated that the uniforms for male pupils of the elementary schools should not be regulated. The outline stated that the uniforms for the female students of technical schools and higher schools should be encouraged to be the standard female clothes. The outline stated that the government should make an effort to encourage standard female clothes among adult women by recommending the designs of standard female clothes that do not seek splendor, but preserves female elegance.

The Outline of Wartime Clothing Simplification neither prohibited women from wearing their own clothes, nor forced them to wear Monpe, nor recommended them to donate their clothing coupons. The Outline of Wartime Clothing Simplification did not state that women should convert their own clothes to standard female clothes. As the war was prolonged, it became difficult to obtain new clothes with clothing coupons.

The Outline of Female Clothing Practice' laid down by the Great Japan Women's Association included 'refraining from obtaining new clothes,' 'wearing the standard female clothes,' and 'reserving clothing coupons.'

On June 16, 1943, the government promulgated the edict 'Special Case of National Uniform System' to relieve the National Uniform Edict promulgated on November 2, 1940. The National Uniform Edict and the Special Case of the National Uniform System were only the laws promulgated by the central government, except for those of local governments, to stipulate the forms of the national uniform in the twentieth century. According to Article one of the Special Case of the National Uniform System, the color of Joi for the national uniform on occasions of not being worn as the formal clothes was not specified, and the colors of Joi and overcoat of the national uniform on the occasion of being worn as formal clothes may be any of dark brown, black, navy blue, or white. It was stipulated that white should be selected for Joi and overcoats only in hot areas during the hot season. There is an opinion that Kogo and Otsugo of the National Uniform Edict were integrated by the Special Case of the National Uniform System, but it did not include that article.

After the end of war in 1945

Since the end of World War II in 1945, there were no more air raids and women started to wear Wafuku that they could not wear before. A lot of women still wore Monpe immediately after the war, but Monpe reminded people of poverty and war and soon became obsolete.

It might have been because Wafuku were expensive and needed some training to wear, Wafuku could not match Western clothing that became popular for their moderate prices and practicality, so the number of people who wore Wafuku everyday decreased. During the period between 1965 and 1975, there were a lot of women who wore Wafuku everyday. That was due to the appearance of kimono made from wool called Wool Kimono, which raised the popularity of Wafuku and created a boom. As Wool Kimono had beautiful color, it became popular among women throughout Japan as casual Wafuku. Yet, the segment of the population who wore Western clothing instead of Wafuku, increased, and the Gofuku industry that engaged in production and sales of Wafuku and textiles for Wafuku became depressed. For the purpose of sales promotion, the Gofuku industry drew up requirements for wearing Wafuku on various occasions and advertised them.
That impressed ordinary people that 'it is troublesome to wear Wafuku.'
Consequently, the Gofuku industry became further depressed so the textile businesses that had produced textiles for kimono, went down one after another.

Until the 1960s, a lot of men wore Wafuku as informal wear at home, which is proved by cartoons until the 1970s, but their population gradually decreased.

During the 1960s, there was a trend among western intellectuals and rock musicians to study Eastern Thoughts and religions, and some of them wore Kimono or clothes modeled after Kimono. Jimi Hendrix, a rock guitarist, was one of the most famous for it.


Fewer women wear Wafuku as everyday clothes, with the exception of informal cotton kimono 'Yukata,' which have prevailed to some extent as costumes worn at special events and their textiles and patterns have become more varied.
Yukata during the Heisei period is completely different from Yukata that was an extension of its original form of garment worn after a bath, and they have become more colorful and fashionable than ever so that some showy forms are called 'Gal Yukata.'
Department stores use Yukata as one of the sales boost for summer season by providing a section for swim suits that is a garment for exposing the body and another section for Yukata that is a garment for covering the body. Men also wear Yukata as stylish clothing but their numbers are not as many as women.
The number of men wearing Wafuku everyday is less than that of women such that few men wear Wafuku except for people involved in religion who usually wear Buddhist priest's work clothes called 'Samue' and artisans who usually wear light cotton clothing consisting of shorts and a jacket called 'Jinbei.'
On the other hand, some campaigns are carried out for promoting men to wear Wafuku mainly through the Internet.

Since the latter half of the 1990s, a lot of shops dealing in second-hand Kimono--those selling the second-hand Kimono before the early Showa period called 'antique Kimono,' and those selling them after the middle of the Showa period called 'recycled Kimono'--were opened, and magazines wrote about them, igniting a Kimono boom among women. What is different from former periods is that people began to wear Wafuku as Western clothing without being obsessive about traditional requirements in Heisei period. Now, people enjoy variations wearing Wafuku by wearing Kimono and Obi made of fabrics for Western clothing, by wearing Kimono on top of Western clothing, by coordinating Kimono with western-style footgear like pumps or boots, or by using lace as the obi support.

Feature of Wafuku

When you wear Wafuku, an ankle-length Kimono called 'Nagagi' is secured with Obi tied at the waist. The sleeve depth is much wider than the arm width. Nagagi and a kimono half coat called 'Haori' have their sleeves sewn up so that the length of the sleeve openings is shorter than the sleeve depth, which makes sleeve bags called 'Tamoto' in the sleeves. Sleeves of Western clothing is characterized in that they wrap the arms to fit so they have a smaller space inside than those of Wafuku. Western clothing are secured by buttons or fasteners, whereas Wafuku is secured with Obi and cloth cords tied at the waist. Wafuku are not open-necked like some of Western clothing. The textiles for kimono do not have elasticity. The Obi is made of cloth. Leather is not used as a material for the Obi. Throughout the processes of making Wafuku from a roll of cloth, the panels are cut out from the cloth almost always straight in parallel to or perpendicular to the sides of the cloth. On the other hand, in the processes of making Western clothing from a piece of cloth, pattern pieces are cut out from the cloth along a lot of curved lines to be made into shapes much more complicated than those of Wafuku. The difference between Wafuku and Western clothing can be seen in the amount and shapes of cloth left after the cutting process. When panels for making Wafuku are cut out from a roll of cloth, just a small rectangular piece of cloth is left at the end of the roll. As the cloth at the end of the roll is rectangular, it can be used for another purpose. When pattern pieces for making Western clothing are cut out from cloth, a lot of pieces in various shapes mostly other than rectangular are left so, they are difficult to use for other purposes. If Wafuku is made with a traditional hand-sewing method, it is sewn on the assumption that the stitches will be taken out from the Wafuku to break it into panels for washing. Delicate threads are used in sewing Wafuku to reduce the risk of thread damaging the cloth when it is pulled. The panels of Wafuku can last long because they are sewn by the delicate threads, but because the threads are delicate, Wafuku has a weakness in protecting the body.

Wafuku covering the body shape

Western clothing for both men and women covers to fit the shape of the body, whereas Wafuku wraps the body to cover the shape with the straight surface of cloth except for shoulders and hips the shapes of which are shown over the surface of the cloth. Most forms of Western clothing for women are designed and made to emphasize the shape and figure of the body, whereas Wafuku for women is made to cover the woman's figure and to be a cylindrical in appearance. Western clothing for women is sometimes made low-cut in front, whereas Wafuku for women are made to overlap the collar high close to the throat.

A brassiere for kimono that a woman wears under Wafuku flattens her bust line. Before wearing Kimono, the body is sometimes padded with cloth like a towel to make a cylindrical shape. The object of the use of kimono brassier and padding the body with cloth like towel is to prevent kimono from having a loose and untidy appearance. Such corrections makes the figure into a perfect cylinder.

People began considering that Wafuku should be worn to cover the figure of the body to make a cylindrical shape only after High Economic Growth; in contrast, immediately after the World War II, with the influence of Western clothing, it was considered ideal to wear Wafuku to emphasize the figure of the body by showing curvature of the body over kimono.

Parts of Wafuku

Kake-eri, or Tomoeri, replaceable collar guard

Hon-eri or Jieri, background collar

Right-hand Maemigoro, front main panel

Left-hand Maemigoro, front main panel


Sleeve bags

Left-hand Okumi, front inside panel

Right-hand Okumi, front inside panel

Kensaki, the bottom short edge of collar

Mitake, the length from shoulder to hem

Yukitake, the width from the center of the neck to the end of the sleeve at the wrist

Katahaba, shoulder width

Sodehaba, sleeve width or the length from the shoulder top to the end of the sleeve

Sodetake, sleeve depth

Sodeguchi, sleeve opening

Sodetsuke, armhole seam

Parts of Nagagi, full-length kimono: Migoro and Okumi

Migoro collectively indicates the right-hand Maemigoro and the left-hand Maemigoro. The modern standard sewing pattern for Nagagi consists of the right-hand Migoro and the left-hand Migoro. The left-hand Maemigoro and the left-hand Ushiromigoro, back main panel, seamlessly constitute a piece of cloth. That is the same in the right-hand Migoro.

Maemigoro: The parts that come front among the parts of Nagagi without the parts of sleeves. The parts that cover the front of the body.
Nagagi has two Maemigoro pieces, 'right-hand Maemigoro' and 'left-hand Maemigoro.'

Ushiromigoro: Parts that cover the back of the body not including the sleeve parts. Ushiromigoro generally consists of two pieces of Migoro (right-hand Ushiromigoro and left-hand Ushiromigoro) sewn together at the back seam; but when Nagagi is made of wider cloth like wool, Ushiromigoro consists of a piece of cloth, which means there are two forms of Ushiromigoro.

Okumi: Among the parts of Nagagi without sleeve parts, left-hand and right-hand front strips from the collar to the hem. They are sewn to respective Maemigoro. Okumi 衽 is also written 袵.

Uwamae: The left-hand part of Nagagi without sleeve parts, i.e., the part on the right as you face it. Uwamae indicates the left-hand Maemigoro, the left Okumi, and the left part of the collar. As Nagagi is worn by wrapping the right side over the body and then the left side overlaps it, the left side comes over top of the right side--This is called Migimae or Ujin.
From another perspective, the outermost surface, i.e., the part farthest from the body is called '上' (Ue.)
Therefore, the left-hand Okumi and the left-hand Maemigoro are called '上前' (Uwamae).

Shitamae: The right-hand part of Nagagi without the parts of sleeves, i.e., the part on the left as you face it. Shitamae indicates the right-hand Maemigoro, the right-hand Okumi, and the right part of collar. As Nagagi is worn by wrapping the right side over the body and then the left side overlaps it, the right side comes back over the left side--This is called Migimae or Ujin as stated above. From the other perspective, the innermost surface is called '下' (Shita). Therefore, the right-hand Okumi and the right-hand Maemigoro are called '下前' (Shitamae).

Parts of Nagagi, full-length kimono: Collars

Honeri and Kake-eri

Kake-eri: Also called Tomoeri. A piece of cloth that covers part of the collar is prone to become stained. Kake-eri and Tomoeri are sometimes used to indicate the differences: When this part is made of the same cloth as that of Nagagi, it is particularly called Tomoeri, and when this part is made of cloth in a darker color than that of Nagagi so as not to distinguish the stain from the cloth, it is called Kake-eri.

Jieri: See Honeri. Jieri 地衿 is also written 地襟.

Tomoeri: See Kake-eri. Tomoeri 共衿 is also written 共襟.

Honeri: Also called Jieri, or simply Eri. The strip of cloth sewn to the edge of Nagagi around the neck and chest. 衿 means the same as 襟. Honeri is the main part of the collar. Kake-eri is sewn to Honeri.

Parts of Nagagi, full-length kimono: Sleeves

Sode: Parts for covering the arm.

Names of the openings of dressed Nagagi



When Nagagi is secured with an Obi as shown in the figure above, it has eight openings in the neck part, the bottom, the right sleeve opening, the left sleeve opening, the right Furiyatsukuchi, the left Furiyatsukuchi, the right Miyatsukuchi, and the left Miyatsukuchi. Openings are called Kuchi in Japanese, and particularly in the terminology of Wafuku, openings are generally called Kuchi. Yatsukuchi' originated from the eight openings of Wafuku in the dressed state. Although there are some hypothesis about the origin, only female kimono and children's kimono have Miyatsukuchi and Furiyatsukuchi, in order to adjust the layer around the waist Ohashori for the female kimono, and in order to pass a cloth cord through for the children's kimono.

Miyatsukuchi and Furiyatsukuchi are closed in the male kimono as shown in the figure below; until the beginning of the Edo period, Miyatsukuchi and Furiyatsukuchi were also closed in the female kimono when they become adults. The closed Furiyatsukuchi is called Ningyo.

Does not have Miyatsukuchi.

Does not have Furiyatsukuchi (Ningyo).

Sodeguchi: The slits in the sleeves for the wrists to pass through.

It is also called Sodeguri, the armhole. Openings on both sides at chest high for the arms to pass through. In the case of Wafuku, the openings chest high on both sides of Migoro to which the sleeves are to be sewn. It is also called armhole in Japanese. It is different from the armhole in English.

Furiyatsukuchi: The slits on the sleeves near the armpit. It is also called Furikuchi. Furiyatsukuchi are closed in the male kimono, and the closed parts are called Ningyo.

Miyatsukuchi, also pronounced Miyatsuguchi: the slits on Migoro under the armpits. Miyatsukuchi are closed in the male kimono.

Names of Wafuku parts

Tamoto: The parts that look like bags at the bottom of sleeves.

Places to be referenced in sizing Wafuku



Katayama: The shoulder creases at which Nagagi or Haori is folded when placed on a flat surface.

Kensaki: The highest point of the front inside panel. Kensaki is the point where Maemigoro, collar (Honeri or Kake-eri), and Okumi meet. Although Kensaki has another meaning as well, as mentioned above it means the standard places in sizing Wafuku. The point of Kensaki is decided by the length of Okumisagari that will be described later and the width of a garment.

Suso: Suso of a garment without the sleeve parts is the hem of the garment closest to the ground.

Sechushin: Generally, the surface that divides the body into the right and the left sides is called Seichumen. Sechushin is the line where Seichumen of the body crosses the back of the garment. If the cloth used to cover the back of the body consists of the right-hand Ushiromigoro and the left-hand Ushiromigoro, the seam is called Sechushin. For this reason, Sechushin is also called Senuisen, which means a seam holding the back pieces together.

Tsumasaki: When Nagagi is placed on a flat surface and the lower parts of the right-hand Maemigoro and the left-hand Maemigoro are opened, Suso will form nearly a straight line. Tsumasaki are the tips of the right-hand Maemigoro and the left-hand Maemigoro that can be seen in the above situation.

Miyatsukuchidomari, also pronounced as Miyatsuguchidomari: The lowest points of Miyatsukuchi.

Wakisen: The side lines along which Ushiromigoro is sewn to the right-hand Maemigoro and the left-hand Maemigoro from the armpits to the bottom. Wakisen are the lines between Ushiromigoro and, the left-hand Maemigoro and the right-hand Maemigoro, except for the creases at the shoulders. When Nagagi is secured with Obi, Wakisen of Wafuku often moves toward the front from the lines of the wearer's body from the armpits to the ankles, but the width of the back panel may be adjusted to suit the comfort of the wearer.

Names of the lengths in sizing Wafuku

Three most important sizes for Wafuku will be shown below.

Mitake: The length from Katayama to Suso of the finished Wafuku. In the case of male kimono, Mitake is the same as Kitake, which is the height of the wearer with the height of the wearer's head subtracted. As the female kimono is adjusted by Ohashori, i.e., by tucking Migoro at the waist, Mitake is longer than Kitake, generally the same length as the wearer's height.

Kitake: Kitake of Wafuku is the vertical length of Wafuku when it is worn.

Yukitake: Also called Yuki. The length from Sechushin to the end of the sleeve at the wrist. Yukitake is the sum of Katahaba, the shoulder width, and Sodetake, the sleeve width.

Wafuku have other sizes as below.

Okumisagari: The length from the point where Katayama meets Eri to Kensaki. Okumisagari of Nagagi is generally from 19 cm to 23 cm.

Katahaba, the shoulder width: The length from Sechushin to the borderline between Ushiromigoro and Sode. Yukitake is the sum of Katahaba, the shoulder width, and Sodehaba, the sleeve width. Katahaba of Western clothing is different from that of Wafuku. Katahaba of Nagagi, Wafuku, is generally from 30 cm to 32 cm. Twice the Katahaba of Wafuku is longer than the width between the left shoulder and the right shoulder.

Kurikoshi: The length from the midpoint of the right-hand Katayama and the left-hand Katayama to the point where Eri is sewn to Migoro. The female kimono is generally made such that Eri is slightly slid down on the back. Kurikoshi for female Nagagi is generally 2 cm to 3 cm. Kimono for males and children generally do not have Kurikoshi.

Sodeguchi: The length of the sleeve opening. It is also called Sodeaki. The length of the sleeve opening is expressed as half of the circumference length of the sleeve opening. When the sleeve on the drafting is square and both sides of the sleeve are not sewn like the sleeves called Daimyo-Sode that can be seen in a baby's kimono for its first visit to a shrine, Sodetake, the sleeve depth, is the same as the length of the sleeve. As the sleeves of the other forms of kimono like Kosode have their sides partly sewn up, the length of the sleeves is shorter than the sleeve depth. The length of the sleeve opening for Nagagi is generally from 20 cm to 23 cm.

Sodetake: The length of the sleeve between the arm side and the bottom measured on Nagagi placed on a flat surface. It requires special care as Sodetake, the length of a sleeve, for western clothing means the length between the shoulder joint to the wrist, whereas Sodetake, the sleeve depth, for Wafuku means the width shown below. For a straight sleeve of workwear or the like, Sodetake is half the length of the circumference of the sleeve. Sodetake for Nagagi is generally from 49 cm to 51 cm, although it depends on the wear's age and taste.

Sodetsuke: The length of the part of the sleeve and Migoro sewn together between Katayama to the armpit measured on Nagagi placed on a flat surface. The length of the part measured on the front side of the sleeve, it is particularly called Maesodetsuke. The length of the part measured on the backside of the sleeve, it is particularly called Ushirosodetsuke. The lengths of Maesodetsuke and Ushirosodetsuke are generally the same, but sometimes different lengths are adopted to meet the wear's taste and physique. Sodetsuke for female Nagagi is generally about 23 cm, but if the wearer wants to tie Obi high on the torso, it will be shorter. Sodetsuke for male Nagagi is generally about 40 cm, longer than that for female Nagagi. This is because Obi for male is narrower than that for female, and male ties Obi low on the torso.

Sodehaba: The length of the sleeve between the wrist side and the armpit side measured on Nagagi placed on a flat plane. The sum of Katahaba and Sodehaba is Yukitake. The length of the sleeve for Western clothing' in a general Japanese expression corresponds to 'Sodehaba' for Wafuku. Sodehaba for Nagagi is generally from 33 cm to 34 cm.

Dakihaba: The width of either the right-hand or the left-hand Maemigoro at the height of the chest. The widths of Okumi and Eri are not included. In the case of male Nagagi, the width of either the left-hand or the right-hand Maemigoro at the height of 40 cm below Katayama. In the case of female Nagagi, the width of either the left-hand or the right-hand Maemigoro at the bottom of Miyatsukuchi, i.e., Miyatsukuchidomari.

Schematic view of Wafuku parts

To facilitate understanding of the structure of Wafuku, the roll of cloth, the cutting method, and the assembly of the parts will be schematically overviewed below.
For further details of the method of producing Wafuku, see 'Wafuku.'
Tanmono, a roll of cloth, collectively indicates the textiles for kimono. For female Nagagi, Tanmono in width of 36 cm is generally used.

Figure of Tanmono

For the purpose of protecting the surface of the cloth, the cloth is rolled inside out that is called Nakaomote.

Cutting method--How to cut

Although a general cutting pattern will be shown below, the order of parts shown in the plan below may be changed in some cases such as the cloth with a pattern or design that needs pattern matching or cloth with stain.

the right-hand Sode

the left-hand Sode

the right-hand Migoro

the left-hand Migoro

the right-hand Okumi

the left-hand Okumi

Kake-eri or Tomoeri

Honeri or Jieri

m = the direction of Mitake

s = the direction of Sodetake

Overview of Combination of Wafuku parts (Reference numbers on the parts correspond to those on the cutting pattern)

Katahaba and Sodehaba for Wafuku

When the Modern Nagagi is dressed, the highest point of the boundary between Migoro and Sode is closer to the fingertips than the shoulder joint of the wearer. For a wearer with a typical physique, the highest point of the boundary between Migoro and Sode comes around the middle of the upper arm. This is caused by the cutting pattern and assembly of the parts. In the case of Western clothing, except for Raglan sleeves, the highest point of the boundary between Migoro and Sode comes around the shoulder joint of the wearer.

The shoulder joint of the wearer

The highest point of the boundary between Migoro and Sode

Forms of Wafuku

The Modern Wafuku are made for adult women, adult men, and children. Each of female Wafuku and male Wafuku comes in formal wear, informal wear, and wear in between. Generally, Wafuku do not have any unisex designs. The full Wafuku attire is composed of Hadajuban or undergarment, Nagajuban or garment worn under kimono, Nagagi or ankle-length kimono, Haori or half coat, Datejime or thin stiff sash worn under Obi, Koshihimo or thin sashes tied to keep kimono in place, Obi or sash, Obiita or thin board inserted beneath women's Obi, Obijime or cloth belt worn over women's Obi, Hakama or trousers or pleated skirt worn over kimono, Tabi or split-toed socks, Zori or sandals, and Geta or clogs, some of which can be omitted. Nagagi and Obi mostly have gorgeous patterns or designs.

Formal female Wafuku

The modern formal wear of female Wafuku is composed of Nagagi and Obi, but female Hakama is regarded as a kind of formal wear for female students. During the Meiji and Taisho periods, most female students liked to wear female Hakama as everyday clothes in school so that Hakama prevailed among Japanese female students, which took root in Japanese culture. For that reason, still some female students like to wear female Hakama as a kind of formal wear during entrance and graduation ceremonies.

Modern formal wear of female Wafuku has a variety of Kurotomesode, Irotomesode, Furisode, Homongi and Mofuku. Large pictorial designs continuing across the panels of the garment called Ebamoyo is a common feature of those kinds of formal wear. Ebamoyo is not a small repetitive pattern, but a design previously dyed on pieces of cloth to be completed on a finished kimono as a picture on a canvas with the parts of the design matched at the seams of sides, Okumi, and Maemigoro, and Sechushin. In principle, these formal kimono are worn for formal ceremonial occasions like wedding ceremonies and conferment ceremonies of decoration and tea parties, and auspicious ceremonies.

Tomesode has a variety of Kurotomesode and Irotomesode. Kurotomesode is made of cloth with a background color of black and Irotomesode is made of cloth with a background color of any other than black. In principle, both Kurotomesode and Irotomesode are full dress for married women, but these days, an increasing number of unmarried women wear Irotomesode.

Kurotomesode: Full dress for married women. The cloth is silk crepe dyed solid black with the family crest resist-dyed (Somenuki hinatamon) on five places of the back, backside of the sleeves, and chest of the left-hand Maemigoro and the right-hand Maemigoro and colored design on the skirt.

Irotomesode: Full dress for married women. As mentioned above, Irotomesode is made of the cloth with a background color other than black. The cloth is not limited to silk crepe, and may be silk crepe with a background pattern woven into or satin damask. Kurotomesode always has family crest on five places, but Irotomesode may have a family crest not limited to five places, but on three places. As black is regarded as a mourning color in the Imperial Court, Kurotomesode is customarily avoided to attend a function of the Court, instead, Irotomesode is regarded as formal wear to attend Imperial Court functions like the conferment ceremony of the decoration. Kurotomesode is regarded as full dress among citizens.

Furisode: Full dress for unmarried women with Ebamoyo. Formally Furisode should have the family crest dyed on the five places, but these days, they mostly do not have a family crest. Furisode have three variations according to the sleeve depth: Oofurisode, the longest and used as the wedding dress, Chufurisode, the middle length, and Kofurisode, the shortest. As Chufurisode are worn for ceremonies like the coming-of-age ceremony these days, it requires care in choosing Furisode. Furisode are not always decorated with Ebamoyo, but a lot of them are made of cloth with small repeated patterns scattered all over called Komon or solid color cloth.

Homongi: Formal wear for married and unmarried women with Ebamoyo. Sometimes they have the family crest. They are mostly made of silk crepe, satin damask, silk satin or the like, but sometimes made of pongee. As pongee is basically for informal wear, it requires care to avoid from dressing it for formal occasions, even if it is made as Homongi.

Mofuku, mourning dress: Made of solid black cloth with the family crest on the five places. In the Kanto region, Mofuku is made of silk fabric used as a cloth for lining high-quality kimono, and in Kansai region, it is made of a kind of silk crepe called hitokoshi Chirimen. As informal Mofuku, a combination of kimono in sedate color like grey, brown or dark blue and black Obi may be used. The informal Mofuku or colored Mofuku is worn for occasions where it is too heavy for a person to wear black Mofuku as the person is not closely related to or a close relative of the deceased or that some anniversary memorial service for a deceased person, usually, dressed on the third anniversary and later.

As Mofuku has been a formal mourning dress, people wore Nagagi on top of a white undergarment in olden times, but these days, partly because the formal dresses are being simplified, and partly because people observe a taboo against wearing layers of clothing that may be associated with having another mourning, an undergarment is not used for Mofuku. Mofuku are worn by both married and unmarried women. Mofuku were originally white--in fact, people in some regions still wear white Mofuku--but, as black has taken root as the color of formal dress after the Meiji period, and the black Western clothing has been recognized as the mourning dress, Mofuku is black in general.

Tsukesage: A simplified version of Homongi that is made of a roll of cloth which has been dyed a design on planned places to be completed as Homongi, in contrast to Homongi that is made of pieces of cloth previously dyed with a design to be completed on a finished kimono. Some Tsukesage look as much as Homongi but Tsukesage are absolutely different from Homongi in that the size of design, the connection of design at the seams, and the skirt lining called Hakkake or Susomawashi that is not the same as the outer cloth but different cloth in color to match well with the outer cloth. Although Tsukesage is not worn for formal ceremonial occasions as it is with informal dress, Tsukesage with classical designs are ranked higher than Homongi with light design, it requires care in choosing Wafuku suitable for an occasion. Ordinary Tsukesage are generally worn for informal parties.

Criteria of selecting female formal Wafuku

As people unusually wear Wafuku these days, the criterion of selecting female formal Wafuku to suit an occasion will change in the future.
The criterion of selecting Wafuku to suit each occasion is commonly called 'TPO for Wafuku.'
When the bride wears Wafuku for a wedding reception, it is usually Furisode. Opinions are divided whether the bride in her fifties should wear Furisode for the wedding reception or not. Some say that Furisode are suitable for unmarried young female, and the others say that the age does not matter. When mothers of the bridegroom and the bride wear Wafuku for the wedding ceremony, they preferably wear Kurotomesode. When married female attendants who are friends with the bride wear Wafuku for the reception, they preferably wear Irotomesode or Homongi in most cases. In some cases, it is difficult to choose suitable Wafuku. Opinions may be divided whether a divorced mother may wear Kurotomesode as the full dress at her child's wedding ceremony or not. Opinions are divided as to whether Kurotomesode or Irotomesode should be worn by the married sister of the bridegroom and the bride.

Female informal Wafuku

Female informal Wafuku include Komon, Iromuji, and Yukata.

Male formal Wafuku

Until the Edo period, males from warrior families wore Hitatare, Daimon, and Suo for wedding ceremonies, and they even wore Kamishimo on informal occasions. Females from merchant families needed not to wear a suicide dagger and bride's white head covering.

Male formal Wafuku include kimono with the family crest at the five places called Montsuki, black silk kimono called black Habutae, ensemble, and striped flat-weave silk. When a man wears kimono with the family crest, he should wear white tabi. Zori should be made of tatami straw. Footgear straps should be white for auspicious occasions and black for funeral services. Also accessories should be white for auspicious occasions and black for funeral services. Full dress is ranked according to formality from the highest to lower, Montsuki, Habutae, silk crepe, and solid colored tsumugi. The criteria of whether he should wear a half coat Haori or not is similar to the case of a suit and jacket in Western clothing. A man usually does not wear Haori at a tea party.

The modern male formal Wafuku is characterized by Nagagi, Haori, and Hakama. In the terminology of Wafuku, the ensemble means a set of Nagagi and Haori made of the same cloth.
But sometimes a set of Nagagi and Haori made of different but well coordinated cloth is soled as a male formal Wafuku titled 'ensemble.'

Male informal Wafuku

Male informal Wafuku include Iromuji, Yukata, Samue, Jinbei, Tanzen, and Happi. Haori are not needed for male informal Wafuku.


Dressing someone Wafuku and dressing oneself Wafuku are called Dressing. Dressing includes wearing footgear. Making up in a traditional Japanese hairstyle is often undertaken with wearing kimono as a course of service, but the making up in the traditional Japanese hairstyle is not included in wearing kimono. Usually, hairdressing is done before getting dressed. One may put on kimono by oneself, or have someone help the person in wearing kimono. Wearing Wafuku is called Waso. Wearer of Wafuku is called Kitsukeshi. Dressing a woman in full dress of Wafuku requires quite a complicated procedure and a lot of work. There are a large number of schools to instruct Wafuku dressing throughout Japan. The main sources of income for those Wafuku dressing schools are the tuition fee of instructing public to dress themselves female formal kimono and a charge for helping them in dressing themselves in Wafuku. There are textbooks on Wafuku dressing. Japan is the only country that has a large number of schools to teach people to dress themselves in its own national costume across the country and qualifies dressing instructors. Umbrella is included neither in dressing Wafuku nor in hairdressing, but it is said a traditional Japanese umbrella called Wagasa goes well with Wafuku.

Wafuku should be worn Migimae

In order to wear Wafuku, both men and women, put their arms through the sleeves, and wrap the body with the right-hand Okumi, and then overlap it with the left-hand Okumi. This is called Migimae, which literally means right-side before, because the right-hand side is wrapped over the body before the left-hand side, and not because the right-hand side is put on top of the left-hand side. Migimae is also called Ujin. Wafuku differs from Western clothing in that both male and female wear Wafuku in the same way. A dead person is dressed in the opposite way for a funeral. The opposite way of dressing is called Hidarimae or Sajin. Dressing a person in Hidarimae order is hated as a quite ominous thing.

The reason for Migimae

There are various opinions about why Migimae has prevailed in Japan and when the Japanese people began to wear clothes Migimae. According to "Shoku Nihongi," an edict was promulgated in 719 to order that all the people should wear clothes Migimae. It is considered that Japan might have followed China that ruled the people to wear Migimae, because Japan took China for a model in those days. It is considered that the Chinese in those days hated to wear Hidarimae because 'it was a savage tribe's custom'--Here, 'the savage tribe' were nomads that lived in the Northeast part and the frontier of China and mainly hunted for their living, and Hidarimae was convenient for them to shoot with a bow and arrow. There is an opinion that as the nomads lived in a completely different way from the farmers in China and often sacked the farmers, which was a threat to the ancient Chinese dynasties, therefore, the dynasties decided to differentiate their peoples from the nomads. Before that, both in China and Japan, people wore clothes Hidarimae. According to another opinion, as right-handed people were predominant in Japan and they bore swords at their left side for convenience of drawing the swords, an increasing number of people began to wear clothes Migimae so as not to have their swords caught in the right-hand sleeves of the clothes worn Hidarimae.

It is also said that a dead person is dressed Hidarimae, in contrast to the way before death, from an idea of having them understood that 'in the world after death, everything is opposite to this world.'

Preparing for Dressing

For silk crepe garment, three pieces of Japanese writing paper folded into four, insert in Eri and sew them to the Eri.

If undergarment is worn, insert a core of collar only in the undergarment Eri, match the Sechushin seams of the outer garment and the undergarment and stitch them together a little, match the collar ends of the outer garment and the undergarment and stitch them together at where Eri are sewn to the garments.

A waistband and thin belts may be a conventional roll of muslin folded into three in a vertical direction and blind-stitched without a core, which makes it hard to come loose.

Nagajuban, long undergarment

Put the Nagajuban over underwear, pull the collar back, tie the thin belt by crossing it in the back and insert it between itself and the garment in front without making a knot.

When kimono is dressed up, tie an under sash called Datemaki or Datejime over this.


Put on the kimono, hold two collar ends with both hands and adjust the collar end of Uwamae so it comes to the right hipbones--If the wearer is to be seated on tatami like attending the tea ceremony or the like, pull the collar end to back of the hipbones.

Tie a thin belt over the hipbones, make a knot on the right side, straighten 'Ohashori,' pull the collar, keep Eri as wide as Bachieri being sure not to open too much, and tie a thin belt, then the undersash.


The length of Obi to wrap over should be as long as it comes to the left hipbones when it is pulled to the front.

Maruobi, the most formal Obi, is folded in two so that the seams are outside, then its design comes in front.

A bustle called Obiage should be relatively big when kimono is dressed up, and should be placed relatively lower when Haori is worn over kimono.

A young woman should not use too low an Obiage.


The undergarment is put on and folded over itself, then a padded underwear called Dogi is put on top of the undergarment and folded over itself.

If Hakama is to be put on, Kakuobi should be used.


When children at seven or eight years old or above are to be dressed up, make Ohashori, even though it is difficult, to show it has been tucked at the waist without making a waist tuck.

A sash attached to both the kimono and the undergarment separately may help dresser in dressing the child up.


The modern full dress Wafuku for both male and female have a crest.
Generally, the family crest is used for the crest, but there are other crests called 'Kagamon' and 'Sharemon.'
A crest is usually provided in white on Wafuku as big as contained in a circle 2 cm to 4 cm across. A crest is provided on Wafuku at one, three, or five places, according to the kind and purpose of Wafuku. Wafuku having a crest at the five places called 'Itsutsumon' is the most formal. Places for the crest depends upon the number of places.

The formal crest is the resist-dyed crest called 'Somenuki hinatamon' that is represented by white and the base color of kimono, which is usually provided on a resist-dyed crest place called 'Kokumochi' by dyeing the crest with the base color of kimono afterwards. Other than Hinatamon, a crest only the outline of which is resist-dyed called 'Inmon' is used for an informal occasion. Further, an embroidered crest called 'Nuimon' instead of the resist-dyed crest is available as a more informal crest. The above-mentioned Kagamon and Sharemon are mostly represented in the form of the Nuimon.

Instead of using one's own family crest, persons in traditional performing art circles or in the world of the geisha dye and use their school's crest or their geisha house's crest for their costumes. There are combination of the crests called 'Hiyokumon' that are often used in the world of geisha.

Itsutsumon' with the crest on five places in the back, the back of sleeves, and the chest

Mitsumon' with the crest on three places in the back, and the back of the sleeves

Hitotsumon' with the crest on one place in the back

Wasai or Wafuku Saiho

Wasai is the abbreviation for 'Wafuku Saiho,' which means producing Wafuku and the technique for producing Wafuku. It is also called 'Wafuku no Shitate' meaning sewing of Wafuku.
For further details, see 'Wasai.'

How to fold kimono

As the folding called 'Hondatami' has been widespread, it is frequently introduced in textbooks of Wafuku dressing or the like. There is another folding called 'Yogitatami or Yagutatami' for avoiding a crease on embroidery or the like on formal clothing that would occur if the clothing is folded in Hondatami.

There is yet another folding method called 'Ebadatami' or the like for tacked kimono or kimono that is temporarily tacked to check the total patterns of Ebagara on kimono.

There is another folding method for temporarily hanging kimono on a traditional kimono display stand called Iko or folding kimono for the time being called 'Katadatami' or the like, by which kimono is folded in half along Sechushin so that Eri faces the shoulder--This is similar to a folding of Western clothing and does not require a technique as that of Hondatami. Some specialists state that this is Hondatami.

The undergarment and Haori are folded in respective ways instead of folded Hondatami.

How to wash Wafuku

An ordinary household does not have the technique for washing formal wear Wafuku. Generally, people have their Wafuku washed by a laundry that specializes in washing Wafuku. As the prices for washing expensive formal Wafuku that is made of pure silk like silk crepe or figured satin are high, formal Wafuku are not frequently washed. Most informal Wafuku made of cotton or hemp can be easily washed in the ordinary household. In the olden days, stitches are taken out from Wafuku to break it into panels, the panels are washed and stains are removed, then the panels are attached to a big board and thinly starched on the board, and the dried panels are sewn up in the household. This method is called Araihari. In the sewing up process, the sizes may be adjusted, worn out parts are mended, or changing of the worn out parts with another concealed part called 'Kurimawashi' is performed. Therefore, the prices for Araihari are generally high for these processes. Thanks to the advance in technology, Wafuku can be dry-cleaned without being broken into panels these days so, that people frequently use this new method.

Terms representing forms of clothing

Terms representing forms of clothing, mainly the terms representing features of Wafuku will be shown below.

Whether it has sleeves or not

Kataginu: Clothing consists of the body part without sleeves.

Whether it is Kosode or Hirosode, also referred to as Oosode

Kosode: Sleeve openings are small. Or, clothes with small sleeve openings.
Hirosode or also referred to as Oosode
Sleeve openings are big. These days, Kosode is used to indicate Nagagi of Wafuku. But, 'Kosode' originally indicated a feature of small sleeve openings. As the origin of Kosode is a quite academic and technical theme of study, it cannot be easily found out. "Saikyuki" (exemplary book on Heian rituals) written by MINAMOTO no Takaakira in tenth century is a document that first used the word 'Kosode' among all the documents currently identified. But it is said that the Kosode in "Saikyuki" is different from Kosode that prevailed among the court nobles as underwear.

Kosode as underwear of the court noble in the Heian period

It is a theme of study whether the word 'Kosode' used by the court nobles during the Heian period means the same as the Modern Japanese 'Kosode.'
Generally speaking, in a study about the past, it should be noted that the word used in the past does not necessarily mean the same as the word used today. About the Kosode used as underwear of the court nobles during the Heian period, it has been considered as below.

It is said that the word 'Kosode' was first used at least during the latter half of the Heian period. But it might have been before the latter half of the Heian period.

Kosode is a garment for the upper part of the body with small sleeve openings. Kosode had straight sleeves called Tsutsusode, the cylindrical sleeves covering the arms.

It is considered that the court nobles might have called both kinds of garments of the garment they used as underwear and the agekubi.

Kosode' was first used by the court nobles. At first, the name 'Kosode' was unfamiliar to those other than court nobles.

During the latter half of Heian period, the court nobles called the garment with big sleeve openings 'Oosode' and the garment with small sleeve openings 'Kosode' in contrast to 'Oosode.'
Oosode and Kosode indicated whether the sleeve openings are big or small and did not indicate whether the sleeve area was big or small. If two garments had the same sleeve areas and the one of the garments had it sleeves partly sewn up to have the length of its sleeve slits small, the garment is Kosode and the other garment is Oosode. If the sleeve area was as big as that of the Modern Furisode, but the length of the sleeve slit is about 20 cm, the garment is called Kosode because the garment has small sleeve openings. It is considered that the word 'Kosode' prevailed among the people other than court nobles from the latter half of Heian period to the Kamakura period. It is also considered the court nobles colored brightly their underwear Kosode from the latter half of Heian period. It is unknown why they brightly colored their underwear, but according to opinion, this is because their underwear was slightly shown between the collar and the neck.
It is supposed that the warriors and citizens had used garments that might have looked like underwear of the court nobles Kosode, therefore, the warriors and citizens began to call their garments 'Kosode.'

Length of sleeves

Hansode: The sleeves that do not cover the area around the wrists.

Shapes of sleeves

Tsutsusode: Cylindrical sleeves with little spaces between the arms and the cloth
In the study of clothing and accessories, the sleeves having the features of Tsutsusode are called Tsutsusode whether they are Wafuku or Western clothing. Most sleeves of Western clothing are Tsutsusode. Most sleeves of the general Modern formal Wafuku are not Tsutsusode.

Genrokusode: The sleeves with the depth from 25 cm to 30 cm and are shaped large circle
Genroku' of Genrokusode originated from a Japanese era name Genroku. Until 1945 of the Showa period, Wafuku with a short sleeve depth titled 'Genrokusode' for the purpose of saving cloth. Since it was not for restoring the Genroku era, the Genrokusode during the Showa period were different from the Genrokusode during the Genroku era. During the Showa period, Tsutsusode of Western clothing were not changed into Genrokusode.

Kakusode: Square sleeves with their corners not being round shaped

Wide shoulder width and narrow sleeve width: From the latter half of Muromachi period to the early Edo period, silk Wafuku with sleeves in a shape slightly different from that of the conventional sleeves became popular among rich citizens. Although it was called 'Kosode' in those days, it was different from Kosode during the Heian period and the Modern Kosode. The sleeve had a short width, about half the shoulder width, a small opening, and its bottom shaped big and gently curved. It was not Hansode. This form of Wafuku is called 'Early Kosode' these days, but it is wrong because 'Kosode' had already appeared during the Heian period.
These days, however, there is a book that describes this form of Wafuku as 'Early Kosode.'

In English, 'Kimono Sleeves' indicates a form of sleeves of Western clothing. Kimono Sleeves' literally means 'sleeves of kimono' but this word indicates a form of sleeves of Western clothing and not the sleeves of Wafuku. Kimono Sleeves' means a loose and big sleeve that seamlessly continues the body of the garment.

Whether sewing the sleeve bags to the body of the garment

Leaving the long sleeve bags separated from the body of the garment without being sewn thereto is sometimes expressed there is 'Furi.'

Presence of Yatsukuchi

Whether there are Miyatsukuchi or not and whether there are Furiyatsukuchi or not characterize the form of Wafuku.

Whether it is Agekubi or Horyo

Agekubi, or also pronounced as Banryo and Marueri: Collar shaped circumference around the neck, with the left side collar fixed near to the right shoulder.

Horyo: Also called Kakueri
Collars sewn to the hems of Uwamae and Shitamae

Tarikubi: Wearing a garment with Horyo by overlapping Uwamae on Shitamae
Or, wearing a garment with Agekubi to show the front of the neck

Whether Kaikin or not

Kaikin: Collar folded outward

Modern Wafuku are not Kaikin. Some of Wafuku in olden times were Kaikin, although they were quite rare. Dofuku during the end of the Muromachi period and the Momoyama period, and Karaginu during the Heian period are only Wafuku with Kaikin ever discovered until present.

Presence of Okumi

There is Wafuku without Okumi. Generally, underwear, long undergarments, and Haori do not have Okumi.

Whether the hem of clothes for the upper half of the body is covered by the clothes for the lower half of the body

Haori of Wafuku and a Jacket of a suit and a coat of Western clothing are clothes for the upper half of the body with their hems hanging over the clothes for the lower half of the body. Nagagi of Wafuku and a shirt for a suit of Western clothing are clothes for the upper half of the body covered by the clothes for the lower half of the body.

The length of Mitake

Tsuitake: Making clothes by deciding the length of Mitake based on the length from the shoulder of the body to the leg. The length of Tsuitake is decided by the assumptions as follows. Adjusting the hem to be as low as the ankle, the garment is worn without making Ohashori, and the hem of the garment does not trail on the ground. As modern female Wafuku are worn with Ohashori made, it is not tsuitake. As modern male Wafuku is worn without making Ohashori, it is tsuitake. Some Wafuku in olden times are very long relative to the wearer's height so they trail on the ground.

How many layers of cloth are overlapped

Hitoe: Hitoe is written 単 or 単衣. The garment made of a single layer of cloth.

Awase: The garment made of a double-layered cloth with the outer cloth lined with another cloth.

Declining prevalence of Wafuku

From the twentieth century to the present, the prevalence of Wafuku is undoubtedly declining as a whole. The main cause may be that formal Wafuku is priced very high, dressing of Wafuku is quite complicated and troublesome, Wafuku is unsuitable for an active person and impractical, it is difficult to adjust to the temperature with Wafuku so that Wafuku is unsuitable for Modern Japan, especially during the summer season. Informal Wafuku is worn easier than formal Wafuku and some are low priced as they are mass-produced, but few people wear Wafuku as their everyday clothes.

Nowadays, still a lot of people wear kimono at ceremonies and events at auspicious turning points in their lives like the festivals to celebrate children's growth, and the coming-of-age ceremony. A lot of women like to wear Yukata, especially at fireworks display in summer. Informal Wafuku draw attention as casual fashion. Kimono fabrics shops specializing in low-priced second-hand Wafuku have been emerging. They have developed Wafuku and Yukata, each consisting of two pieces of the upper part of the body and the lower part of the body separated at the point that is concealed by Obi for simplicity of dressing to be used in business and for dressing children.

Circles that still use Wafuku as their main costumes

In some occupations and roles, people are still absolutely required to wear Wafuku instead of being allowed to wear Wafuku as a preference. People are required to wear Wafuku formally or informally in the occupations and religions are listed below.

Japanese Buddhist monks

Shinto priests including priests called Shinkan and shrine maiden

Those engaged in traditional performance arts like Noh, Kabuki, Japanese dance, comic storytelling, ceremonial imperial court music, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and recitation of Chinese poems.

Geisha and Maiko

Sumo wrestling referee and ringside sumo judge

Sumo wresters in formal dress at occasions other than matches

Waitress in a Japanese-style hotel, a hot spring inn, a traditional Japanese restaurant

Players wear Wafuku that are uniforms of their sports
These uniforms are sold at Kendo shops, Kyudo shops, and sporting goods shops, and not sold at the shops that deal with female formal Wafuku.









Other Japanese martial arts


A lot of terms that are no longer used for modern Wafuku were used in Japan before the nineteenth century. It should be noted that documents written in the modern era to describe Japanese clothing before the nineteenth century have two categories shown below.

Where a modern writer writes a document by selecting a Chinese character corresponding to that written in the old documents from the Chinese characters used in modern Japanese.

Where modern writer writes a document by translating the words written in the old documents into the words used in the periods later than that of the original document.

The study of old clothing and accessories is part of the studies in ancient court and military practices and usages.

Term list

Koromo 衣: In modern Japanese, 衣 collectively means clothing. According to documents during the Nara period and other periods, 衣 collectively meant clothing for the upper half of the body in Japan until the early eighth century.

Tamoto: Unlike the meaning in the modern Japanese, Tamoto meant the part from the elbow to the wrist of the sleeve, which is called Sodesaki, in Japan before the Edo period.
It is said that Tamoto originated from the word 'temoto' meaning 'at hand,' which had changed to 'Tamoto.'
It is unknown how the Japanese people of those days pronounced 'temoto.'
Tamoto' has a pronunciation close to 'temoto' in modern Japanese.

Ho: Garment for the upper half of the body
Ho has sleeves. The word 'Ho' began to appear in "Nihonshoki" from around the seventh century. In 'the clothing codes' included in "the Taiho Ritsuryo Code" promulgated in 701 and "the Yoro Ritsuryo Code" promulgated in 718, '衣' was more frequently used than '袍' as the word indicating clothing for the upper half of the body. After the eighth century, '袍' gradually began to appear more frequently than '衣' in documents as the word indicating clothing for the upper half of the body. It is still uncertain that the words '衣' and '袍' used from the seventh century to the eighth century indicated the same thing, but it is supposed to be close. 袍' is divided into two types: that with the body part layered and that with the body part not layered.

Figure of '袍' with the body part layered

Agekubi, also pronounced as Banryo and Marueri


Accordion pleat

Ran: Ran is a piece of cloth sewn to the hem of Ho to extend the hem of Ho. Ran covers the legs together. It looks like a skirt attached to the hem of Ho, but unlike a skirt, Ran is not sewn in a cylindrical shape. Ran is sewn to the hem as the longer side of a rectangular piece of cloth cut out from a roll of cloth is attached to the hem perpendicular to the height of the body. Accordingly, the height of Ran is almost the same as the width of the roll of cloth. Ran of the front side of the body and that of the back of the body continue seamlessly. In some cases, accordion pleats are formed at the sidelines of Ran, i.e., the boundary between Ran of the front side of the body and that of the back of the body. The pleats are folded in a vertical direction. Ran sometimes has Arisaki.

Arisaki: Arisaki are the parts projecting to left and right from the sidelines of Ran. The cloth of Arisaki is part of Ran. That is, the cloth of Ran and the cloth of Arisaki continued as a piece of cloth when it was cut out from the roll of cloth.

Hoeki: The state of sidelines sewn closed
Hoeki no Ho' is a garment with sidelines sewn closed and Ran attached.

Figure of Hoeki no Ho

Agekubi, or also pronounced as Banryo and Marueri



Ketteki: The state of sidelines left open without being sewn
Ketteki no Ho' is a garment with sidelines left open without Ran attached.

Figure of Ketteki no Ho

Agekubi, or also pronounced as Banryo and Marueri



Kazuki: From the Heian period to the Kamakura period, some of attired adult females used another garment to cover her whole body from the head to go out. The garment used for covering the body from the head is called Kazuki for its usage. As it is used to cover the head, it is characterized by having Kurikoshi longer in Maemigoro than in the back unlike the usual Wafuku so as to cover the head and forehead.

Hifu: Wafuku for protection against the cold created in the Edo period
Hifu in the Edo period resembled a raincoat used in the Edo period, but attached with sleeves. Although it is not frequently used these days, Hifu with sleeves and without sleeves for girls at festivals to celebrate children's growth to wear over kimono are sold.

Dofuku or Dobuku: It is said that the word Dofuku originated in 'Dochu ni kiru fuku,' meaning a garment for a journey. It is known that warriors wore Dofuku during the Muromachi and Momoyama periods, but according to an opinion, the word Dofuku had existed before these periods. Dofuku worn by warriors and Dofuku worn by Buddhist monks are completely different garments. It should be noted that the different letters '道服' and '胴服' are pronounced as Dobuku. There is an opinion that the garment called '道服' Dobuku in the Muromachi period is the same as the garment called '胴服' Dobuku during the Muromachi period. But according to an opinion that differentiate '道服' from '胴服', '胴服' was originally a garment for covering only the chest and hips without sleeves, and later the sleeves were attached to '胴服' that consequently looked like '道服' that originally had the sleeves. Both '道服' and '胴服' came to be called Haori from the latter half of the Muromachi period.

Dofuku or Dobuku: It should be noted that the different letters '胴服' and '道服' are pronounced as Dobuku. There is an opinion that Dofuku had two types, those with sleeves and those without sleeves.

[Original Japanese]