Kimono – the traditional dress

Kimono – is a traditional Japanese dress, worn by men, women and kids. The literal translation of the word is “something to wear” (Ki = wear; mono = thing). It is a T-shaped, straight line robe, which comes in all types of designs and quality, some of which are extremely rich and expensive.IMG_0613

Unlike India, where the “Saree” (traditional dress of India) is worn on daily basis by many, Kimono is usually reserved for special occasions like weddings, tea ceremonies, burials, etc, one of the reasons being that it is extremely difficult to wear a kimono. The picture above will give you a fair idea of the complexity of the garment. Not shown in the picture are a lot of other accessories that go with it – inner linings, ropes & ties, obi (belt), a bow (for the back), tabi (special white socks), Geta (special wooden sandals), etc.

Brides usually wear a “pure white” kimono (Shiromuku)on the day of the wedding with an elaborate hairpiece (Wataboshi – equivalent of a bridal veil). Wearing white by the brides has a special significance. As the bride leaves one family and enters a new one, she wears white so that “she can take on the colors of the groom’s family”.
The groom wears a black kimono carrying the family crest, a pleated skirt (hakama ) and a half-length black coat (haori)

(Along with the headgear, the bride also wears a traditional hair piece wig (Tsunokakushi) – it literally means “hiding horns”. Hiding the horns signifies that the women will be obedient to their husbands. The idea comes from a folklore which says that when women are jealous, they grow horns – reminds me of the devil from the Onida color TV ad.)

My first experience of wearing a kimono was at a family friend’s house in Osaka. The lady of the house had a lot of extremely beautiful Kimonos and wanted me to try one…and believe me, it was a huge task. Not that I wore it myself, of course she helped me with it, but it took almost 40 minutes to get the whole thing in place. But once done it looked absolutely gorgeous – worth every bit of the effort that went into it. Oh.but that was not all..I could hardly walk. and what’s friend taught us the traditional “tea ceremony” that day …with the Kimono on, which was fun and a good learning experience….but phew!! extremely tiring…all in all, it was a wonderful experience but at the end of it, I was happy to be out of the Kimono and back into my denims.

I got to wear the dress once more and that was at Hotel Higashi Nihon in Utsunomiya. The hotel has a professional studio where I was dressed up in a beautiful and rich Kimono by the studio employees. I remember it took almost 2 hours for us to dress-up (with all the accessories and the make-up). Once ready, they took proper professional photographs of me in Kimono in a variety of poses and gifted them to us. (was arranged as a gift by my school) Those photographs are one of the best souvenirs that I have from the country.

One very important thing to remember when wearing a kimono is when wrapping it around the body, it should always be the ‘left side over the right side’… is only when dressing the dead for the burial, the kimono is wrapped the other way round, that is ‘right side over the left side. I am not sure about the significance.) I will have to check and get back.)

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