Kimono and sleeve


Kimono, traditional Japanese robes

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Humanity


The love of seasonal flavor shows in the way of wearing traditional Kimono too. They come in seasonal colors and patterns.

Kimono are the traditional garb of Japan, and they date back well over 1000 years. The garment has undergone many transformations since that time, both stylistically and in the way it's constructed. Kimono literally means "clothing," but usually refers to the traditional wrap-around, full-length, one-piece robe worn by both men and women.

During the Heian period (795-1185), the kimono was so splendid that its appearance must have been stunning to say the least. The world's first novelist, Lady Murasaki Shikibu (author of "Tale of Genji," and attendant to the Emperior's court), described in her writings multi layered costumes made of the finest silk. Up to a dozen or more colorful layers of contrasting colored kimono would be worn!

As the kimono evolved into outer wear, so to did its potential for creative and expressive design. Kimono became elaborate works of art, sometimes with renowned artists commissioned to paint their surface. Glorious embroidery that utilized gold or silver thread embellished the garments.

The Japanese love and reverence for nature was reflected in the themes chosen to decorate kimono. Flower blossoms, trees, and streams were lovingly hand painted onto the surface of the robes. Oftentimes kanji would be incorporated into the designs... bits of poetry or characters alluding to ideas or concepts would be embroidered or painted onto the garment.

A very intricate dyeing technique was developed called yuuzen. Artwork would be either stenciled or painted directly onto the garment with an organic material (rice paste), which would then dry and harden. The cloth would then be dipped into a dye bath... with the "resist" painted areas refusing the dye. After the stencil painting was removed by washing, a dazzling piece of artwork would be the result. This dye-resist method is still used today in the production of some kimono.

Once it became fashionable to wear kimono as outer garments, they were combined with a trouser called, hakama. Around the 15th century, kimono were worn without hakama and this fashion became the standard for both men and women. Kimono had become a single layer, multicolored robe with rectangular sleeves, and was secured at the waist by a sash called the obi.
quote from
A brief history on Japanese Kimono
Lisa Mari

Kimono: Fashioning Culture
Liza Dalby


juuni hitoe 十二単衣 12 layered court robe

The jūnihitoe is an extremely elegant and highly complex kimono that was only worn by court-ladies in Japan. Literally translated, it means "twelve-layer robe". The older term, still used by scholars but not widely recognised in mainstream Japan, is Karaginu Mo (唐衣裳). This is in reference to its Chinese coat (Karaginu) and apron-like train (Mo), the defining parts of the costume.
... The colours and the arrangements of the layers are very important. The colours have poetic names, such as "crimson plum of the spring".
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Some two hundred rules were established which governed things like the combination of colors of kimono colors and how the colors of the outside and the lining should be harmonized. This resulted in certain colors being associated with November to February which were called ume-gasane or "shades of the plum blossom. Such kimonos were white on the outside and red on the inside.

For March and April there was a combination called "shades of wisteria", a kimono with lavender outside and a blue lining.
Winter and Spring had their own set with an outer garment of yellow and orange.

The colors were set to mirror the seasons and their moods, showing just how closely the Japanese were attuned to the world of nature around them. This also, of course, led to other things one did not do with kimonos, such as wear one with cherry blossom designs in the winter or fall. Examples of summer motifs include ocean waves and red maple leaves.
source : darkchilde


tamoto たもと【袂】the sleeve of a kimono
This is an important item, used by ladies to wipe their tears. It is also important in Japanese dance.

. hana no tamoto, 花の袂(はなのたもと)
kimono sleeve for cherry blossom viewing

. kasumi no tamoto 霞の袂 sleeves of mist

. tamoto no shigure 袖の時雨
"a sleeve wet from cold tears"

sode そで【袖】sleeve arm of a coat

Haiku with tamoto / sleeve

haru no yuki semaki tamoto ni sugari keri

spring snow
on my narrow sleeves...

Kobayashi Issa

Or: "his" or "her sleeves."
There is a cultural dimension to this haiku that is lost in translation. Shinji Ogawa explains, "The expression tamoto ni sugari or 'clinging to the sleeve' is a typical gesture in the theater for a lover's departure. I think it is Issa's humor to depict the spring's unwillingness to depart.
The phrase semaki tamoto implies the work clothes or poor man's clothes."
Tr. and Text David Lanoue


Here are a few kigo with the dresses of Japan.


........................... Spring

Japanese robes for spring, haru goromo 春衣
..... haru irui 春衣(はるい)

willow robes ...
with various flower robes

lined kimono 春袷 はるあわせ haru awase, haru-awase

spring wear スプリングウェア supuringu uea
shunpuku 春服 (しゅんぷく)
haru no fuku 春の服(はるのふく)
haru no kimono 春の着物(はるのきもの)
shunsoo 春装(しゅんそう)

haru booshi 16 春帽子 ( はるぼうし) hat for spring
iisutaahatto イースターハット Easter hat
iisuta bonetto イースターボンネット Easter bonnet

haru no gaitoo 春外套 (はるがいとう) overcoat for spring
supuringu kooto スプリングコート
haru kooto 春コート(はるこーと)
supuringu スプリング topcoat for spring
aioobaa, ai-oobaa 合オーバー(あいおーばー)

haru seetaa 春セーター (はるせーたー) sweater for sprig

haru shooru 春ショール (はるしょーる) shawl for spring
..... haru mafura 春マフラー(はるまふらー)muffler for spring

haru tebukuro 春手袋 (はるてぶくろ) gloves for spring
.... harushuuto 春手套(はるしゅとう)

kigo for late spring

haru no kasa 春日傘 (はるひがさ) parasol for spring
..... haru no higasa 春の日傘(はるのひがさ)
..... haru parasoru 春パラソル(はるぱらそる)


Festival of dying material for robes, senshokusai
染織祭 (せんしょくさい)

kigo for late spring
..... gofuku sai 呉服祭(ごふくさい)

Beginning of April, especially in Kyoto, where many dyers were living.
Started in 1930 to revive the traditional arts and crafts of Okasaki, Kyoto.


........................... Summer

first wearing of summer robes, awase, 袷
hatsu awase 初袷(はつあわせ)、suawase 素袷(すあわせ)
"no more quiltings", watanuki 綿抜(わたぬき)
old summer robes, furu awase古袷(ふるあわせ

summer robes (natsu goromo)
including bleached cloths, sarashi, shrinked cloths, chijimifu and many more.

Summer sash (natsu obi) 夏帯

white layered robe, shiragasane 白重, 白襲
..... white robe, shira-e, shira e 白衣(しらえ)

cotton robes, yukata

. higasa 日傘 ( ひがさ) parasol for summer
umbrella and kigo

natsu tebukuro 夏手袋 (なつてぶくろ) gloves for summer
..... 夏手套(なつてぶくろ)
reesu tebukuro レース手袋(れーすてぶくろ)gloves made from lace
amitebukuro 網手袋(あみてぶくろ)net-gloves
They are used by ladies to prevent the sun from shining directly on the skin.

shirogutsu, shiroi kutsu 白靴 (しろぐつ) white shoes


CLICK for enlargement !

Weaving the Colors of Nature
Fukumi Shimura
has been weaving kimono from naturally dyed thread for more than 60 years. The traditional Japanese artist was recently awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of her ability to reflect the harmony between humans and nature in her art. But she is concerned that that relationship is changing for the worse.
- source : nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english


........................... Autumn

autumn cloths, aki no fuku 秋の服 あきのふく
..... aki awase 秋袷 あきあわせ, aki no awase 秋の袷(あきのあわせ)
..... nochi no awase 後の袷(のちのあわせ)

chrysanthemum robes, kiku gasane 菊襲 きくがさね

maple leaves robes, momiji goromo 紅葉衣 もみじごろも
..... momiji gasane 紅葉重(もみじがさね)



observance kigo for early autumn

. kashi kosode 貸小袖 (かしこそで) lending a robe .
hoshi no kashimono 星の貸物(ほしのかしもの)
If you lend some yarn and a kosode robe to the Weaver Princess, your own ability in weaving would increase. So robes and yarn was put on the Kikoden-shelf.
Ritual for the Tanabata Star Festival


. yookai, yōkai 妖怪 Yokai monsters .

kosode no te 小袖の手 Hands of a Kosode

CLICK for more photos !

- quote -
kosode no te 小袖の手
TRANSLATION: kosode (a short sleeved kimono) hands
Kosode no te is a phenomenon appearing in short-sleeved kimonos formerly owned by prostitutes. It is characterized by a pair of ghostly hands emerging from the sleeves and assaulting nearby people.
Kosode no te can occur for a number of reasons. One common origin is when a prostitute dies in vain, after working for many years to save up the money to buy her freedom from her owner. Upon death, such women usually had their clothes donated to a temple for prayers to be said over them. However, if the woman was still owed money by her clients when she died, her spirit often reanimated her old clothing, and they leave the temple to find her customers and beg them for the owed money.
Another common origin is
when, instead of being donated to a temple, a dead person’s kimono is sold to someone else. If the deceased was unable to properly pass on to nirvana upon death, that person’s spirit occasionally comes back and haunts the kimono.
- source : yokai.com/kosodenote -

- reference : "kosode no te" -


........................... Winter

Warm Winther Cloths

Gloves, mittens (tebukuro)

Wearing the hakama for the first time, hakamagi 袴着


........................... New Year

wearing the first robe, kiso hajime 着衣初 きそはじめ
..... hatsu ishoo 初衣裳(はついしょう), hatsu gasane 初重ね(はつがさね)

"spring robes" harugi 春着 はるぎ, 春衣(はるぎ)
new year kimono, shoogatsu kosode 正月小袖(しょうがつこそで)
spring kimono, haru kosode 春小袖(はるこそで)
spring cloths, harubuku 春服(しゅんぷく)haru no fuku

"Spring" is here synonym with the New Year according to the Asian Lunar Calendar.

December- Preparing new kimono for the New Year
Watanabe Nobukazu (1872-1944)


sode fure-au mo tashoo no en 袖触れ合うも他生の縁
. When our sleeves touch,
it feels like we met in a past life. .

karma relations

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Kimono, Yukata, Nagajuban and more
着物、浴衣、長襦袢 などなど

Daruma Museum, Gabi Greve

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

- - - - - Kimono Material - - - - -
crepe, chirimen
slit-weave tapestry, tsuzure-ori
weft brocade, nishiki
woven hand-cut velvet, tsuzure-biroodo

. yuuzen 友禅 Yuzen past-resist dyeing, .
Kaga yuuzen 加賀友禅 Yuzen from the Kaga region


- sode 袖 sleeve, kosode 小袖 short-sleeved kimono -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


nembutsu no kyuukin tori ya hatsu awase

his prayers for pay
pay off...
a new summer kimono

sakura e to miete jin-jin bashiyori kana

off to view cherry blossoms
old man with kimono

Kobayaslhi Issa

I thank Susumu Takiguchi for helping me to visualize this haiku. In an e-mail (4/17/01), he explains that the first line, jin-jin bashiyori refers to "an action whereby a man picks up the centre-back of the hem to his kimono and tucks it to his obi sash at the back of his waist.
By doing it, his legs would be given freer movement and it is presumed that a man does this when he wants to do something, such as walking a long way as in a walking journey, dancing or engaging in an active action. It is not clear if this noun only refers to old men, or men in general."
Shinji Ogawa notes that the Japanese kimono is not well suited for striding or running, and thus needs to be tucked for such movement. Jin-jin bashori (or jin-jin bashiyori) is a relatively easy way to tuck the kimono but it looks untidy; thus it is called "an old man's tuck."
Tr. David Lanoue

click for more photos

jinjin bashiori じんじん端折り/ ”じんじんばしょり”
jijii bashiori じじいばしょり(爺端折)


natsu matade baika no yuki ya shiragasane

not waiting for summer
the plum blossoms in snow -
white layered robes

Tr. Gabi Greve

Den Sutejo (1633-1698)

Related words

***** Loincloth (fundoshi) and haiku

***** Paper clothing, paper robes (kamiko) 紙衣 (かみこ) 紙子(かみこ)

***** Parasol (higasa)





Gabi Greve said...

Matsuo Basho
For Mukai Chine, sister of Kyorai, who died very early at age 25

naki hito no kosode mo ima ya doyoo boshi

even the robe
of the deceased included -
dog-day airing
Tr. virginia university

The kimono of the deceased,
Must be exposed to the sun,
in this Doyo season.
Tr. Ozeko

This short-sleeve kimono
Of the deceased
Now in summer aired.
Tr. Takafumi Saito


Gabi Greve said...

Threads of Silk and Gold: Ornamental Textiles
from Meiji Japan Landscape
Hiroko T. McDermott
This book is a pioneering study of Japanese ornamental textiles made for the foreign market during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These exquisite embroideries, resist-dyed silks and velvets, tapestries and appliqued works were an important feature of the Western fascination with all things Japanese at that time, winning numerous accolades at international fairs and being used to decorate homes across Europe and the United States, yet since then they have been largely forgotten.

This book, which will appeal to textile enthusiasts and those interested in Japanese art and Japonisme alike, celebrates these remarkable and undervalued textiles, discussing their production techniques, iconography, patronage and trade, and demonstrating how Kyoto craftsmen created a modern art form by adapting their traditional skills to Western tastes. The visual appeal and obvious technical virtuosity of the objects will give the book a broad appeal. The collection will then travel to the Kiyomizu-Sannenzaka Museum, Kyoto.

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

袖の色よごれて寒し濃鼠 (そ

sode no iro / yogorete samushi / koi nezumi

- - - - -

karite ne n / kakashi no sode ya / yowa no shimo

- - - - -

無き人の小袖も今や土用干  naki hito no / kosode mo ima ya / doyō-boshi

- - - - -

saru hiki wa / saru no kosode o / kinuta kana

- - - - -

sode yogosu ran / tanishi no ama no / hima o na mi

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve said...

shitateya 仕立屋 / 仕立て屋 tailor, seamstress
in Edo


Gabi Greve said...

tsujigahana, tsuji ga hana 辻が花 "flowers at the crossroads" dyeing method
and the work of
久保田 一竹 Kubota Itchiku (1917-2003)

Gabi Greve said...

Fuyuki Kosode 冬木 小袖
Autumn grass design on white twill ground
Hand-painted by Ogata Korin
for 冬木屋 the Fuyuki family.