It is believed that the
samurai wore hakama in order to conceal their steps from their enemies.
However, hakamas later began to be used to protect the kimono from dust and
wear and tear.
Men"s hakamas used on
formal occasions are generally made of silk fabric that is stiff. It is
commonly striped, either in black and white or black and navy blue. Unstriped hakamas
or those with stripes in other colours are preferred on less formal occasions. A
hakama can be worn with any kind of kimono, except with the yukata. In case of
hakamas meant for females, stripes are rarely found. They are usually found in
single colours or specially dyed in different tones of the same colour. A few
flowers might also be embroidered on women"s hakamas.
Another point of
difference between hakamas worn by men and women is the style of tying them. Men
usually tie the hakama at the waist, while women tie them at the bust line.
A yukata is another
traditional Japanese garment, which can be considered as a more casual version
of the kimono. The term "Yukata" means "bathing clothes", though the garment is
worn on other occasions as well. Apart from using yukatas after a bath, the Japanese
people are commonly found to wear them on occasions such as firework displays
and at other celebrations. Sumo wrestlers wear yukata when they go out in
public. Traditional Japanese inns offer yukata to their guests to wear, so that
they can feel comfortable.
The yukata is a
comfortable, cooling garment, and is usually made of light cotton fabric. It is
widely preferred for use during hot and humid weather. On account of the
comfort that it affords to the wearer, it is also popularly referred to as the "happy
coat". The style of the yukata is very much similar to that of the kimono
with a straight cut and wide sleeves. However, it is unlined.
Commonly, the colour and
the pattern of the yukata varies from wearer to wearer. Young women prefer
wearing yukata with floral patterns on them, while children wear yukata with a
number of bold colours. On the other hand, an older person would prefer yukata
with simple geographical patterns and more sober colours.
The process of wearing a
yukata is comparatively simple. The left side of the garment is wrapped over
the right, and it is secured with an obi. However, when a dead body is dressed
in a yukata for a funeral, this procedure is reversed. In this situation, the
right side of the yukata is wrapped over the left. The yukata that is commonly
used at home after a bath usually have a belt attached to them, and wearing
them is even simpler.
The obi used for tying
yukata is similar to that used in case of a kimono. Some people prefer to tie
the obi in a decorative fashion such as with a large bow. Sometimes, the obi
in case of yukata might be decorated with tassels.
The jūnihitoe is
a more complex version of the kimono. In fact, the word "jūnihitoe" itself
means a "12-layer robe" in Japanese. The innermost layer of the garment is made
of white silk or cotton, over which several other layers are put on. The final
layer is a coat. Considered in toto, the jūnihitoe is quite a heavy
garment, and might weigh upto 20 kg.