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  Kimono For Everyday Wear

Kimono History

  1. The ancestor of the kimono was created in the Heian period (794-1192). Straight cuts of fabric were sewn together to create a garment that fit many different body shapes. It was easy to wear and extremely adaptable. By the Edo period (1603-1868) it had evolved into a unisex outer garment called kosode. Literally meaning “small sleeves,” the kosode was characterized by smaller armholes. It was only from the Meiji period (1868-1912) onwards that the garment was called kimono.

  2. Each garment was the reflection of its wearer. In the same way, Edo kosode and Hinagata bon are the reflection of an age. By wearing art, early modern Japanese left us a remarkable insight into their world and into what it meant to be Japanese before foreign influence. Which explains how the kimono as a garment embodies so much about what it means to be Japanese, as well as why it became so important to post-Edo Japan. The kkimono kept part of traditional Japan alive in a time of rapid modernization and foreign influence. The Meiji period simply renamed it the “wearing thing.” And they encouraged women in particular to wear it. To put that into context, at the same time, Meiji law encouraged men to wear Western clothing, and demanded it for government officials and military personnel at official functions.

  3. As Japan was undergoing a fundamental change on multiple levels during the Meiji period, Japanese women wearing kimono was a reassuring and visual image. The kimono became a visible yet silent link between woman, mother, and cultural protector. Even today, the kimono is a reminder of Japan’s core culture as it was just before its fundamental change.