Kimono Terms

You may come across some terms in this blog that you do not recognize. Usually, they are Japanese words which have been written using the English alphabet (known as romanization). I often use them when describing a certain aspect of kimono or Japanese culture, as many times, there are words and terms which have no English equivalent. You will soon find that kimono have their own language! I try my best to explain what these terms are inside the posts, but if you see a word without an explanation, please look below for reference:

Awase (袷)–Lined kimono, worn in winter/fall.

Chirimen (金紗)–Textured crepe silk.

Date-eri (伊達衿)–Strip of fabric which can be attached to the kimono collar to give the impression of wearing another kimono beneath the first.

Date-jime (伊達締め)–Under-wrap to keep the juban and kimono straight and in place. Can be made of traditional cloth or more modern elastic.

Dochugi(道中着)–Kimono jacket which overlaps panels and is tied at the side.

Edo Komon (江戸小紋)–A kimono which looks like a solid color from a distance, but up-close has a pattern made by tiny dots. Can be crested, and has the same formality as Iromuji.

Eri-shin (衿芯)–Collar stiffener, usually placed inside the juban collar to provide shape.

Eri-sugata (衿姿)–A detachable collar. Often used to provide the illusion of wearing a juban under a kimono Also known as tsuke-eri (付け衿), Biyo-eri (美容衿), or Azuma eri (あづま衿).

Fukuro Obi (袋帯)–Wide, formal or semi-formal obi (amount of metallics correspond to level of formality) that is patterned on one side, and is either 100% patterned (zentsuu) or 60% patterned (rokutsuu).

Furisode (振袖)–A long-sleeved kimono for unmarried/young women, most often worn for the Coming-of-Age ceremony. There are three lengths of sleeve: Ooburisode/Honburisode (大振袖): 105cm, Chuburisode (中振袖): 90cm, and Koburisode (小振袖): 75cm.

Furoshiki (風呂敷)–Wrapping cloth for various items.

Geta (下駄)–Casual wooden sandals with two “prongs” or “teeth” coming from the sole, Worn with yukata and some informal komon.

Hadajuban (肌襦袢)–Kimono undershirt. Worn underneath the juban.

Hakama (袴)–Pleated “trouser” worn on top of kimono. Can be divided like pants or undivided like a skirt. Most often worn by women for graduation and by men at formal occasions. Also worn for certain martial arts.

Hanao (鼻緒)–Padded straps on zouri and geta which hold the shoe to the foot.

Han-eri (半衿)–Replacement/decorative collar covers, sewn on top of the juban collar to add color and protect the juban collar from stains.

Hanhaba (半幅)– Half-width obi, informal. Can be worn with yukata and informal komon.

Haori (羽織)–A kimono jacket which is tied at the front and worn over kimono.

Haori himo (羽織紐)–Decorative ties that hold a haori closed.

Heisei (平成 )–1989 to present.

Heko Obi (兵児帯)–Soft obi. Usually worn by men, but more colorful ones can be worn with yukata.

Hikizuri(引き摺り)–Kimono most associated with geisha and dance. It trails behind the weaer, and is worn with an obi, and is usually slightly padded on the hem. Also known as Susohiki (裾引き).

Hitoe (単衣)–Unlined kimono, worn in spring/summer.

Houmongi (訪問着)–“Visiting wear”. A kimono one step below Tomesode in levels of formality. Has a design that extends from shoulder to hem and on the sleeves. Can be crested. Distinguished from Tsukesage by a continuous design that travels across seams.

Iromuji (色無地 )–A solid-colored kimono. Can be crested, with more crests equaling a higher formality. Can be worn by married or unmarried women. It is the most versatile of kimono since it can be dressed up or down, and worn to many different occasions.

Irotomesode (色留袖)–A colored Tomesode. Came about when black was considered unlucky since it is a mourning color. Can be worn by both married and unmarried women.

Jinken (じんけん)–Rayon.

Nagajuban (長襦袢)–Under-kimono. A slightly smaller robe which is worn on top of the undergarments but under the kimono. The collar and parts of the sleeves can be seen when wearing a kimono. Also known as a Juban.

Kanzashi (簪)–Traditional hair ornaments.

Kasuri (絣)–Japanese ikat technique. A fabric whose threads are pre-dyed in the desired pattern before being woven. Results in a “fuzzy” effect of the pattern.

Katsura (鬘)–Wig.

Kimono (着物 )–The traditional dress of Japan. Long and rectangular in shape, with square or rectangular sleeves. Can be made from a variety of materials, but mostly silk.

Kitsuke–The act/art of dressing in kimono.

Komon (小紋)–“Town wear”. A casual kimono with an all-over pattern for everyday wear.

Korin Belt (コーリン)–Elastic belt with clips to keep the kimono fastened under the bust. Also can be used to keep collars on place.

Koshihimo (腰紐 )–Himo are long ties that keep a kimono in place while dressing, and also hold up the kimono to the correct length for the ohashori. Koshihimo are tied at the waist.

Kurotomesode (黒留袖)–A black Tomesode. It is the most formal kimono for married women, and has 5 crests.

Maru Obi (丸帯)–Wide obi which is fully-patterned on both sides; very formal. Usually only worn by the bride at weddings.

Meiji (明治)–1868 to 1912.

Meisen (銘仙)–Specialized silk weave made mainly in the Taisho period. The silk threads are pre-dyed, then woven in a specific pattern, oven in resulting in a “fuzzy” texture on the edges of the design.

Michiyuki (道行)–Knee-length coat with a rectangular neck and snaps, worn over kimono.

Mofuku (喪服)–“Mourning wear”. An all-black outfit with white accessories that is worn only to funerals. The kimono is all-black and has five crests.

Kamon (家紋)–family crests often dyed on formal kimono, usually circular. Also known as Mon (紋).

Musubi (結び)–Obi knot tying styles. Most popular is otaiko/taiko (drum).

Nagoya Obi (名古屋帯)–Obi which has had part of it sewn up into half-width for ease of tying otaiko. Usually has pattern only where it will be seen when tied.

Obiage (帯揚げ)– A silk scarf tied over the obi makura and tucked into top of obi, used to hide the obi makura and provide added color.

Obidome (帯留め)–Decorative brooch worn on the obijime.

Obi-ita (帯板)–Flat board with ties worn under the obi to keep it from wrinkling in the front.

Obijime (帯締め)–A flat or round cord tied over the obi, used to keep the obi musubi in place.

Obi makura (帯枕)–Small pillow used to bulk out the obi knot. Tied under the obi in the back.

Ohashori–The fold at the waist in women’s kimono used to bring them up to the correct length.

Okobo (おこぼ)–Tall wooden clogs worn by maiko, also known as pokkuri (ポックリ) or koppori.

Omeshi (お召し)–Silk crepe where the dyed threads are twisted when woven.

Rinzu (子)–Shiny damask-type silk with a woven pattern.

Ro (絽)–Summer fabric with hundreds of tiny horizontal holes woven in lines to lessen weight. Can be sheer or opaque. Tate-ro is ro with vertical holes.

Sha (紗)–Summer fabric, similar to ro, except with grid-like holes.

Shibori (絞り)–Traditional method of tie-dye where small knots are tied in the fabric to form hundred of tiny raised circles when dyed. Circles are raised up from fabric, providing a unique look and texture.

Shigoki Obi (しごき帯)–Soft tasseled obi, often worn by children, or by an adult as an accessory below a normal obi.

Showa (昭和)–1926 to 1989.

Tabi (足袋)–Socks with a split toe for wearing zouri. Traditionally closed by a series of hooks along the ankle known as Kohaze (鞐).

Taisho (大正)–1912 to 1926.

Tansu (箪笥)–Traditional wooden storage chests for kimono made of paulownia wood.

Tatoshi (たとう紙)–Folded rice-paper wrapping used for storing and protecting kimono.

Tomesode (留袖)–A formal kimono, can have either 1, 3 or 5 mon depending on formality. Pattern is only along the hem, and is usually worn by older married women.

Tsukesage (付け下げ )–A kimono with patterns on the left shoulder and bottom hem. One step below Houmongi in formality.

Tsuke Obi (付け帯)–Pre-tied obi in two sections. Also known as “Tsukuri obi” (作り帯).

Tsumugi (紬)–Textured silk woven from the cocoon.

Yukata (浴衣)–An informal cotton kimono worn during the summer, usually to festivals.

Yuzen (友禅)–Resist-paste dyeing using rice starch.

Zouri (草履)–Formal kimono sandals with a wedge-sole, worn with tabi socks.