Traditional Japanese New Year Clothing

photo credit: 內斯特攝影 Nextphotography 5Z0A0892 via photopin (license)

Some of you already know what the traditional Japanese clothing is.

Yes, Kimono!

Some people love wearing kimono during a new year’s holidays and going to shrine visits or meet with their relatives!

If you think Japanese people still wear kimono, the traditional Japanese clothing, often, you might be disappointed. There are not so many times people that wear this wonderful traditional clothing nowadays.

The only time people are willing to wear is during summer festivals, new year’s days, college graduation ceremony, funerals, and weddings.

History of Kimono

Kimono: with Chinese Influence

Kimono, like almost all the traditional things in Japan, has a huge influence from China.
This is the Han clothes in China.


This is the clothing the noble people wore in Nara era (710 – 794) in Japan and it is said to be influenced by the Han clothes above.
It looks similar, right?


Kimono: Traditional Japanese Clothing

In the Heian era (794 – 1185), because Japan decided not to send people to China, the Japanese culture was developed without Chinese cultural influences.
And Kimono too developed on its own way.



In the Edo era, the normal people started enjoying Kimono too. Before this era, it was too expensive for the normal people.
This kimono, called “Kosode”, is the basis of the current kimono.


In this era, the fashion leaders were Kabuki actors and high-rank prostitutes.
Since people had opportunities to see what they wear through paintings called “Ukiyoe” and “Nishikie”, the people started to dress gorgeously like them.
People’s desire to dress nicely was so fierce that even the Shogunate could not control it.




Kimono No More

After the shogunate was over and that means the country started to become open to foreign countries, western style clothes were introduced and men started to wear them.
However, women, on the other hand, still wore kimono.

Women started to abandoned kimono only after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.
At the time, because kimono makes it hard to move around, lots of women in kimono died.
I remember when I was in elementary school, my teacher told me a story about this.
There was a lady who wore kimono and no underwear. She was at some department store on the second floor or something when the earthquake happened.
There were rescue people telling her to jump off from the window onto the mat they placed under her.
Yet, she refused to do it because she was embarrassed if she had jumped off, everyone could see her without underwear.
Sad story…

Kimono Now

Even though kimono looks beautiful and traditional and many still want to wear, it is hard to wear kimono because it is expensive.

So nowadays, people wear kimono only for weddings, funerals, and some other special occasions like new year’s visit to the shrine by renting them.


Yukata, a part of kimono, is more affordable and many, especially women, are willing to wear them to summer festivals.


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