Oh well, I’m so excited to write a post after came over to Japanese Culture Week 2014 at BINUS Square last Friday [24.01.14]. It wasn’t because of #TGIF or something like #Throwbackfriday or anything else, It’s because that day was my first time wearing a yukata. YAY!! A yukata is an unlined cotton garment sometimes referred to as a casual or SUMMER KIMONO. Yukata are worn in Japan during the summer in casual settings. Traditional Japanese garments are worn less frequently today than they were historically. Like the formal kimono, this garment is simply cut, with straight seams and roomy sleeves.
Kimono is an exquisite and complex combination created by multiple elements, each with a specific role. They are the “KANZASHI” (hairpiece), the “GETA” (wooden sandals), the “OBI” (wide silk sash), the “OBIMAKURA” (small pillow that gives the “OBI” its volume and shape on the back and the “SUSOYOKE” (slip worn under the kimono. Some of the pieces are seasonal or reserved for special occasions like the “ERI-SUGATA” it’s a special collar used only during warm weather or the “HAORI” such a formal coat. Honestly, the process of getting dressed in a kimono or yukata is no simple task either and it requires two people to assemble the outfit perfectly.
Kimono as we know, it came into existence during the Heian period. At this time a new garment-making technique was developed, known as the straight-line-cut method. This involved cutting pieces of fabric in long straight lines and sewing them together to create a long robe, or kimono. Kimono makers liked them because they didn’t have to worry about the shape of the wearer’s body. Kimono was originally worn by commoners, or as undergarments by the aristocracy.
At the end of the 17th century, during the Edo period (1615–1868), the kimono became an important indicator of class and wealth. Despite the sumptuary laws put in place by the ruling samurai class (which restricted use of certain fabrics and colors), wives of wealthy merchants would try to outdo each other with lavish displays of kimono design, each one more stunning, vibrant and complex than the next.
By the Meiji period (1868–1912), Japan was opened to the West, and for the first time, kimono were exported to Europe. Also at this time, Japan’s textile industry began to adopt western technology; new techniques and the end of sumptuary laws made silk kimono affordable
During the prosperity of the Taisho period (1912-1926), western-style clothes gained popularity among women, though the kimono continued to be worn. Motifs inspired by western designs began to appear, while chemical dyes allowed for the production of even more vibrant colors. The development of innovative machinery, like power-operated spinning machines and jacquard looms, sped up production and continued to lower costs, making high-fashion kimono more readily available than ever.
Since the end of World War II, western-style clothes have become the norm in modern Japan. Some older women and even fewer men still wear kimono on a daily basis, as well as geisha or people engaged in traditional activities. But most often they are worn on special occasions, like weddings or celebrating the New Year. But surprisingly, the 21st century has seen a sort of rebirth of the kimono, and beautiful contemporary designs as well as vintage kimono are being seen again on younger people, who wear them in more modern ways.