Kimono literally means “clothing.” It’s a traditional outfit made of silk, cotton, linen, or wool. Over a period of hundreds of years, the kimono evolved in style and design.
【The Past and Present of Kimono】
Until the nation’s period of modernization (mid- nineteenth century), everybody wore kimonos. As western style clothing entered the country, people began to switch. Apparently, western-style clothing allows people to move faster and easier. Today, people wear decorative silk kimonos during the New Years, at tea ceremonies, weddings, school graduations, and other formal gatherings.
Tabi are the ankle-high socks. They go with zori. They have a slit between the big toe and second toe. At formal occasions, white tabi are necessary. At casual occasions (at a friend’s house, for example,) you may want to wear colored tabi.
【Zori and Geta】
Zori and geta are footwear to go with a kimono. Zori is worn at casual to formal occasions. When wearing zori, the person must wear tabi. Geta is a casual form of footwear and worn with a yukata. When wearing geta, the person does not wear tabi.
Have you seen geta ? They look like wooden flip-flops with heels.
An obi is a kind of belt. It’s a long sash that keeps the kimono together. Obi are categorized by their design, formality, material, and use. The advantages of kimono and obi are 1) they look beautiful, 2) they last a long time, and 3) they do not go out of fashion.
The standard length of an obi is 3 to 4 meters, or 10 to 13 feet. Can you imagine how to tie them?
► Q：Is it difficult to put on a kimono?
► A：Yes, it takes a while to master the technique. The popular way to learn is to go to so-called “kimono fitting classes.” The teachers will teach you every detail you need to know. If someone you know can teach you, then you should go ask them to teach you. Actually, I can’t put it on by myself either.
► Q：How about learning how to put on a kimono from YouTube tutorials?
► A：That’s not a good idea. It’s better to have someone teach you directly. Visual materials, such as YouTube, are probably better for reviewing.
A yukata is a cotton kimono that both men and women wear. Going to out-door summer festivals and/or fireworks displays wearing yukatas is a cool thing to do. Because the yukata is a casual item, the obi should also be light and casual.
Yukata are basically “one-size-fits-all".
【The Past and Present of Yukata】
The original form of yukata was made of linen and called yukatabira. About 1,000 years ago, aristocrats had the custom of taking steam baths. The yuktabira is a very thin kimono to prevent skin from burning. Later, cotton became less expensive and was used as the fabric for all yukata.