Today, the kimono is
worn only on special and very formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals, coming-of-age
functions, New Year"s Eve, and graduation. Moreover, it is now worn
most often by women. Kimonos are now preferred only by older people, with the younger
generations going in for Western dresses. Apart from this, professional Sumo
wrestlers wear kimonos when they make a public appearance, as is the tradition.
Silk is still considered
the preferred fabric for kimonos. On formal occasions, silk kimonos are
preferred. However, in today"s times, kimono are also available in Japan in
easy-to-care-for fabrics like cotton, satin, cotton-satin, polyester, rayon and
other fabrics. These kimonos are less expensive as compared to silk ones.
The attitudes of the
Japanese towards the hakama have also changed. In today"s times, men hardly
wear hakama, except on formal occasions like tea ceremonies, weddings or
funerals. They are also worn by those who practice martial arts such as kendo, iaido,
aikido, and kyūdō. Sumo wrestlers also wear a hakama when they make
an appearance in public. Shinto priests also wear the hakama routinely. Some
schools also require senior students to wear hakama.
Japanese women today
wear hakamas only at graduation ceremonies. Women who assist in carrying out
various ceremonies, called "Miko" in Japanese, sometimes wear hakamas. In this
case, the hakama is usually bright red, worn over a plain white kimono, or a
long, flowing naga-bakama at the time of the ceremony.
Coming to the yukata, it
was originally worn by people of the upper class to bathing houses. However,
with the passage of time, it began to be worn by common people too, and became a
highly popular form of clothing. The yukata is worn even today by the Japanese
on various occasions.
Initially, yukata were
made of plain cotton and dyed in indigo blue colour. In today"s times, however,
yukata are available in a large number of colours and patterns.
As for the jūnihitoe,
its origin dates back to the 10th century, when it was worn only by
Japanese court ladies. Japanese ladies have even been known to sleep in the
Like the kimono, the
jūnihitoe has evolved over time. On account of the heavy weight of the
jūnihitoe, movement was rather difficult. For this reason, the layers of
the jūnihitoe reduced over time, and the garment became lighter.
In today"s times, there
is hardly anyone who wears the jūnihitoe. The production of the garment is
very less, and it is only seen in movies and museums.
The obi has also become
more decorative and fashionable over time.
footwear has also not been left behind. It has also considerably changed over
the years. The waragi was highly popular among common people in Japan, but in today"s times, it is worn only by Buddhist monks. The zori has become more
fashionable, and is now available in different styles.
Section 5 - Modern
Modern clothing in Japan is a mixture of Japanese and Western styles. Some people prefer to stick to
traditional Japanese clothes, while most have switched to Western garments. Some
people prefer to mix both the dressing styles for instance, wearing a kimono
with western-style sandals and hairstyles. Some people prefer to wear western
garb, but with a Japanese touch incorporated into it.
Western clothing began
to be worn in Japan about a century back, and now it is very prominently found
among the Japanese. Here, western-styled clothing refers to denims, shirts,
suits and skirts, as well as accessories like sandals and sports shoes. The
major reason behind this change in dressing style was the awareness that
traditional Japanese garments were rather cumbersome for everyday wear. After
western-style clothing was introduced in Japan, even the kimono underwent
several changes. Another reason that could be cited for the same is the
influence of the western culture.