Dressing up in traditional Japanese dresses can be a lot of fun, and recently renting kimono while sightseeing is very popular. These traditional Japanese dresses look cute and adorable. If you also want to know more about it here we are!
However, there are many different kinds of wafuku, so in this article, we will look at the 21 main kinds of clothes that you are likely to wear if you live in Japan. As you will see, there are distinct clothes for men and women, for formal and casual wear, and for different occasions and seasons.
21 Japanese Traditional Dresses for Male and Female
One of the most iconic and easily recognizable of all traditional Japanese dresses, the kimono is still a staple piece for many Japanese people and is growing in international appeal too. The ancient Chinese style clothing, the students worn by the kimono initially with a hakama which is a long skirt type piece.
Over time, however, tastes changed and it became far more popular for the kimono to be worn without the skirt.
Women carry Kimono for special occasions, both traditional and contemporary. The kimono has stood the test of time, its flattering and body-hugging silhouette is a timeless representation of Japan’s great appreciation for beauty.
Simply put, the yukata is the lighter, summery version of the kimono. The fabris is quite soft, lightweight similar to cotton. The garment’s was at first used as the bathing cloth.
Both men and women carry the yukata. It is fastened with the help of a sash (obi) and is very easy to wear. It is most popularly worn while bathing. Howver, the stylish and breezy robe is also the unofficial garb for vibrant summer matsuri events during the sweltering summer months.
Men’s yukata tend to feature understated colors like gray and navy, but otherwise are very similar in design to women’s yukata. These casual kimonos can be worn with little to no help, making yukata an easy gateway to the world of Japanese traditional clothing.
Find out more about the differences between Yukata and Kimono, or get your own authentic Japanese yukata and hard-to-find plus-sizes right here!
A Hanten is a winter coat and was typically worn by regular people during the Edo period. Its history may be far-reaching, however, thanks in large part to its simple, minimalistic design, the jacket is a very flexible piece of clothing that can very seamlessly fit into the modern-day wardrobe.
The throw-over style coat-jacket is padded and tailored for a cozy, but flattering fit. Hanten layers easily and pairs well with business casual attire and athleisure. For added warmth, slip in a few kairo, or heated sachets, in the pockets of the Hanten.
A more formal incarnation of the Hanten, a Haori is a medium-length jacket designed to be worn over the kimono. In previous times was only accessible to those of a higher social class. While in the Sengoku period, men would wear sleeveless variations of the Haori over their armor-like tabard was worn in Europe.
Women also flirted with wearing the Haori as a statement style piece, a movement spearheaded by geisha in the 1800s.
This Haori kimono jacket is hand-dyed using the painstaking shibori technique. This involves tying up parts of the fabric before it is immersed to create intricate patterns between the dyed sections and raw fabric.
At first glance, men’s Haori seems understated compared to women’s Haori; however, Haori was once the uniform of the “bad boys” of Japan’s Edo Period. During the 18th century, when conspicuous displays of wealth were outlawed, fashionable men would customize their Haori with decorative linings.
Samue is an incredibly simple outfit originally worn by Japanese Zen Buddhist clergy, still even to this day when they are parking in physical, mindful work known as Samue. Activities that fall under the Samue umbrella include cooking, cleaning, outdoor labor, and they’re all said to be excellent ways to practice the art of mindfulness.
It consists of a simple pair of pants and a top, these are typically crafted from linen or cotton. It is dyed with indigo blue, or brown. Its understated simplicity and carefully considered design is an excellent representation of the practice of Zen Buddhism.
Samue loungewear is designed for contemporary living and is completely adjustable to ensure ultimate comfort. For even greater comfort, check out our samue pajamas
The sash which keeps the kimono together, the obi is often easily overlooked, but when styled right it’s a standout piece of traditional Japanese wear. As simple or as extravagant as you like, there’s a type of obi for every occasion and every style.
The patterns can be chosen to match the material of the kimono or to provide a sharp contrast. For some outfits, the kimono becomes a mere canvas for the artistry of the obi.
Mens’ obi are narrower than women’s, and play a more practical role in keeping the kimono tight. But as men’s yukata and kimono often come in subdued colors like grey and navy, adding a colored or patterned obi is a great way to let one’s personality and unique fashion sense shine through.
The final item in the obi-trio is the obiage. Similar in form to a silk scarf, the obiage is rolled and inserted between the kimono and obi belt, showing a little pop of color.
Hidden under a kimono is where you’ll find a nagajuban, a thin robe worn to keep the rest of the kimono clean. Typically made from cotton or silk, the garment separates the layers of the kimono away from the body.
Kimono can be very difficult to clean, especially when made of silk, so the nagajuban is important to keep sweat away from the outer material. The nagajuban is usually only visible at the collar, where you see a thin strip of white.
Even simpler than a nagajuban this men’s cotton kimono undergarment, or hadagi, can keep you comfortable and clean while wearing any kimono, yukata, or other jackets.
Maekake, literally translating to front-worn or front-hang, is a traditional style of Japanese apron, worn on the hips and tied at the front.
Traditionally, maekake was worn by craftsmen and staff members of a variety of different stores including sake, rice, or miso shops. The indigo-dyed thick cotton canvas is hard-wearing, and many used the apron as shoulder padding when carrying heavy loads.
These days maekake is still used by many vendors of rice and other produce, as well as worn by staff members in Japanese bars, or izakaya.
It is designed from hardy but natural materials like hemp and cotton, the matching top and pants set, is a summery house outfit worn by men and women, and indeed children.
They are most popular with boys, who might wear a jinbei to the same event that would see girls sporting yukata.
Tenugui may be humble in design, but definitely not in use and importance. As we covered in great detail at Japan Objects magazine, it’s a handy piece of fabric, always in gorgeous Japanese patterns, with an almost infinite number of uses. Check out our tenugui collection to get one of your own!
Inspired by the trousers worn in the Chinese imperial court during the Sui and Tang dynasties, in many ways hakama was a predecessor to the kimono we know today.
Hakama come in two varieties, the undivided andon bakama, which looks a little like a long-pleated skirt, and the divided umanori, which translates to horse-riding hakama, and resembles loose-fitting pants.
Over time the place of the hakama in Japanese society shifted. Today men are more likely to wear hakama under their kimono on formal and informal occasions, while women typically only wear the garment for graduation ceremonies and when performing traditional Japanese sports like aikido and kendo.
Most often seen in deep blue indigo or brown, if you see someone wearing a delightfully named happi it typically means one thing: they’re off to a festival.
It is comfortable, light jacket, with slightly shorter than full-length sleeves. Today however they’re used mainly to identify members of the same group.
The tanzen is another form of kimono, this time-worn predominantly by men in the cold winter months. It looks the same as a kimono, but instead of the simple lining of the usual garment.
It generally in darker colors and plainer patterns to appeal to men’s fashion tastes. Most commonly seen in the more northern parts of Japan, such as Tohoku and Hokkaido.
Michiyuki, whose characters translate literally as ‘traveling’, is a traditional coat, worn over the top of a kimono for both protection and warmth, much like a Western windbreaker.
The outfit is same as haori in which is wear over the kimono, but the former serves a more practical, protective function. Michiyuki tends to be pretty simple in design, often with no or very modest patterning. One of the trademarks of a michiyuki is its square-shaped neckline, fastened with buttons at the front.
In fact, the name michiyuki refers to the shape of the collar of the coat.
16. Tonbi Coat:
Inspired by the Victorian-era Inverness capes worn by the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Tonbi. The men wears the Tonbi is sleeveless to fit a kimono outfit, but still retains a somewhat Western feel. It is of soft wool or cashmere fabric. Tonbi coats had a peak in popularity in the late 19th century into the early 20th century.
Whilst a bit harder to come by in recent years. Tonbi is the perfect outerwear for a walk around the park in the colder seasons.
Outside of Japan, you will almost certainly have seen it in countless manga and anime series. The gakuran is the sleek, traditional boy’s high school uniform which consists of a long-buttoned coat. With an upstanding collar, full-length slacks, and typically worn with black dress shoes.
Although we consider it part of the Japanese fashion landscape today. This uniform was modeled on the clothes worn by European navy personnel.
The female version of this uniform called the sailor fuku a sailor-style uniform consisting of a navy-blue skirt, white shirt, and colored neckerchief.
One of the more unforgettable pieces of traditional Japanese dresses, fundoshi (褌) are traditional men’s undergarments. These cotton briefs were the Japanese precursor to the mainstream adoption of western-style underpants, which happened following World War II.
The fundoshi has several different styles, but the most known one these days is the variation with the loose apron.In the most infamous festival Hadaka Matsuri, people prefer wearing Fudoshi.
The Sushi chefs across the nation wear the accessory. The hachimaki is a bandana-like piece of fabric. The chefs wear it around the head. They’re handy for hot days to prevent sweat from dripping in the eyes.
These days people wear it typically for style, during competitions and tournaments. Their origins aren’t 100% clear, but theories attest. The samurai were first to invent it to prevent their helmets from cutting their foreheads.
What can be more comfortable than Judogi for Judo Practice and competition. Designed around the turn of the 20th century by Jigoro Kano, judogi was derived from the kimono and other Japanese garments, including heavy hemp Hanten which were worn by traditional Japanese firefighters.
A judogi set consists of a very heavy jacket, lighter canvas pants and a cotton belt. Although there have been a few adjustments over the years. The uniform is still very close to that used 100 years ago.
Kendogi is the traditional Japanese dresses while doing kendo. The modern Japanese martial art, that uses bamboo swords as well as protective armor.
Much like the sport itself, which is based upon traditional swordsmanship, the uniform is from the clothes of samurai. It is one of the popular traditional Japanese dresses for students of martial art students.
The basic uniform consists of hakama and a jacket, made from thick fabric to cushion. The hakama also supports good posture with its fastening bands under the belly button and its trapezoid-shaped back piece. It is essential in kendo.
Much like the Western sport of fencing, kendo athletes also suit up in armor. It consists of a number of pieces to protect the head, shoulders, arms, throat, and torso.
So, these were the 21 most famous and fashionable traditional Japanese dresses for men and women. Let us know in the comment section below your favorite picks that you can’t wait to incorporate in your style!
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