Kimono & Other Information
1 About Kimonos
Men's kimono: Shown above is men's most formal ensemble.
Men's kimono: unlike women's, men's have the sleeves either entirely attached to the body or just a very short portion of the bottom of the sleeves unattached from the body of the garment, they are also much more square cut at the outer bottom corner than women’s ones. The sleeves are less deep than on women's kimono as they mustn't get in the way of the obi (sash) that is used to tie it closed. Men's kimono are usually below knee to calf length, rather than ankle length. They are often made silk, fine wool weave fabric, cotton, linen or a mix of these. Summer kimono are often made of ro silk, a slightly sheer, extremely soft silk, with a weave that allows the garment to 'breathe', from sha silk, an open weave, slightly stiff silk that holds its shape and is very slightly sheer, or made of cotton. Summer ro and sha silk kimono are unlined. A very formal (Montuki) kimono is usually black silk, rather like fine taffeta, with small white mon (mon=crests, kamon=family crests ); from just one crest (centre back) to five crests (two at the front and three at the back), at just below shoulder level. The more mon on it, the more formal the occasion it could be worn at. A quality kimono for informal daywear, tea parties and theatre is often made of tsumugi silk, an irregular, hand spun silk thread, woven into a lovely, slightly slub textured fabric. Some silk fabrics used for men's kimono are matte and others have a sheen. There are also wool kimono and wool/silk mix and, more recently, synthetic ones. The Japanese, of course, make excellent synthetic silks Sometimes men's clothing comes as ensembles; a matching haori and a kimono.
A haori is a kimono jacket, the same shape as the kimono but about half the length, worn on top of the longer kimono. Haori kimono jackets do not overlap at the front like other kimono, they lie slightly open. They are designed to be worn over a kimono but make stylish jackets over trousers, for daywear or for lounging. Haori are fastened with a himo, a silk braid with a large knot, which hooks onto little loops on the inner edge of each of the haori fronts, the knot lies in view in the gap between the fronts. On men's haori, the himo knot is never untied, the himo is simply unhooked at one side to unfasten the haori. On women's haori, however, the himo is narrower and is tied to fasten it, with a special knot, of course, and untied to open it. Haori and himo are bought separately, one himo may be used on multiple haori, especially as they can be very expensive. A himo is an accessory, like a belt in western clothing Haori kimono jackets sometimes have wonderfully patterned linings, either a woven pattern, a printed one or a beautifully hand painted one, often of landscape scenes or animals, tea ceremony items, lucky items, processions etc. Men's haori with decorative linings look particularly good hung as wall displays, inside out, often with the front edges pulled out at the sides.
If well made inside, nowadays they are sometimes worn inside out too, in the west. You can see a bit of a particularly fine example of a hand painted haori lining in the picture at the top of this page. A hoari is also great for relaxing around the house, worn over just a pair of jogging bottoms or pj bottoms
Men's kimono are most often black, grey, blue or brown, muted colours, though they also often have a subtle pattern in the weave or print, with muted colourings in the pattern, including, plums and greens, the pattern still giving an overall tasteful hue. Check patterns are popular for men's kimono. More casual kimono may include slightly brighter colours in their pattern, such as purples, brighter greens and blues but the colouring looks subdued overall. Only sumo wrestlers, if they choose, wear very bright colours on the outside (sumo wrestlers must wear traditional Japanese clothing whenever in public). Men's kimono are not overtly decorative, unlike women's ones, but the haori jacket linings and the jubans ('underwear' kimono) are men's discreet way of having fabulous designs on their clothing.
This hidden decorativeness was born out of quiet revolution; as wafuku became more and more ostentatious, laws were passed at times to limit what certain classes could wear, to ensure rich merchant classes couldn't outdo the less wealthy of the higher rated samurai classes and such, so they took to hiding the ostentation by having fabulous patterns, colours and quality of fabric hidden beneath the outerwear in the linings and the underwear kimonos. Almost any man's kimono can be made more formal by adding a haori or hakama but the most formal is the black with the 5 kamon (crests, also called mon) black montuki kimono being the most formal of all.
Men's yukata (unlined, cotton, casual, summer) kimono are worn by Japanese men at summer festivals, for lounging indoors and as bathrobes but also for sleeping in. A traditional favourite is white with dark blue designs but there are, of course, many other colour variations too, though usually fairly muted in tone if they are for outdoor wear
Men fasten their kimono with an obi. Further down this page is a link to instructions on how tie one in a traditional clam knot, this same knot can also be used for the type of obi for women's yukata kimono. Traditionally the knot is positioned at the back. A kaku obi is slightly stiff and has a knot like the one shown further down this page. A heku obi is a soft, incredibly long obi, usually silk, rather like an extra long, wide, slightly stretchy silk scarf, which is considered more casual, usually for home wear, and is wound round two to three times with the depth allowed to gather up and tied in just a simple and informal knot. Kimono and obi are always bought separately, one obi may be worn with various kimono
Hakama is a divided (umanori) or undivided (andon) 'skirt', rather like a very wide pair of trousers, traditionally worn by men but now also worn by some women. Videos below show how to put on hakama and how to fold one. They are also worn in martial arts such as aikido. A hakama typically has pleats, a koshita (a stiff padded part at the lower back of the wearer) and himo, which are long lengths of fabric tied at the waist, in a specific and rather complicated but very attractive manner. Hakama are worn in several Japanese martial arts, such as kendo, iaido, aikido, and naginata. Hakama can range from very formal to informal visiting wear, depending on fabric pattern. Andon are the undivided hakama and umanori are divided ones, with legs divided but from fairly low down the garment. Very formal men's outfits usually consist of kimono worn with hakama.
The original function of hakama was to protect the clothing, much like American cowboy's chaps, and not, as is often said, to hide the deft footwork of the samurai. They became part of formal dress of the samurai classes, worn with a top garment called a kataginu; together the hakama and kataginu are called a kamishimo; with commoners given leave to wear this ensemble on special occasions only. The kataginu is usually made of cotton or silk, some are ro silk, a light, airy silk for summer wear, to match the hakama, vintage ones have stiffening bamboo inserts and a paper lining. The front has straps and the back is sort of triangular shape, giving a very wide shouldered look, which balances out the width of the bottom of the wide hakama. When wearing hakama, the kimono and obi are worn under the hakama, the haori is worn on top
Beneath a man's kimono, a juban (also called naga-juban) is worn. This another soft silk, cotton, hemp or synthetic, shorter kimono, often with amazing designs on it. Only the plain neckband of the juban shows from under the outer kimono. They usually have a han-eri added to them, a plain collar of subdued colour, very commonly navy blue, hand stitched on, the edge of which is the only part of the juban that shows from under the outerwear kimono. Men's jubans are often worn as lounging robes and bathrobes because they are so comfortable and often exquisite in appearance. Some vintage, Showa era jubans are made from jinken, a Japanese rayon fabric, which is a natural fibre, that has a nice feel to it and is a good facsimile of silk but more easy-care when it comes to washing, as are the synthetic fabric ones. Most are silk, cotton or a fine cotton and wool mix, some of the older ones are hemp
There are, of course, also happi coats and hanten jackets. These are usually cotton and a very simple shape, without the kimono style sleeves. Happi coats are jackets often seen at festivals and the like and hanten jackets are livery jackets worn by tradesmen etc. Hanten jackets are most usually for men but happi coats are for both genders. They frequently have kanji (Japanese text characters) on them.
How the Japanese wear geta
A good video showing how to put on men's han-juban, informal kimono and obi, with hakama, plus folding your hakama can be found here.
Note* kitsuke means the putting on of traditional Japanese clothing.
Another good video, this time showing how to put on men's formal kimono, obi and hakama ensemble can be found here.
A video showing how to put on hakama can be found here
How to fold hakama can be seen here
How to tie a man's kaku obi and a woman's yukata/hanhaba obi in a clam knot. Click here for instructions (opens in a new window, leaving this page open too). There is lots of info on wearing and tying a variety of men's Japanese garments on that site, it's well worth a browse through. Although in Japanese, the pictures give clear instructions.