Wearing a kimono is a must-try experience when visiting Japan. Knowing different types of kimonos, when to wear them and who is suitable to wear them, is very important in Japanese Cultures. Knowing the basic differences is a way to show respect to the cultures and to avoid any awkward situations.
First Formal Wear 第一礼装
1. Uchikake 打掛
Pure white or coloured Uchikake is a wedding dress.
2. Kuro Tomesode黒留袖
Kuro (黒) means black in Japanese. Kuro Tomesode is a black kimono with elegant hem patterns It is for married women and mainly worn by the mothers and relatives of the bride and groom. Usually it’s with five family crests (mon 紋).
3. Oo Furisode 大振袖
Oo Furisode is the first formal wear for women who are not married yet. It features a splendid eba (絵羽) pattern and long sleeves.
The longer the sleeves, the classy of the overall pattern. Hon Furisode with the sleeves length 114 to 124 cm are used for coming-of-age ceremonies and wedding feast.
Mo (喪) means funeral or mourning. Mofuku is worn in a funeral. It is a black kimono with five black crests (mon紋).
Semi-formal Wear 準礼装
1. Iro Tomesode 色留袖
Iro means coloured. Iro Tomesode is a coloured kimono with elegant hem patterns, which is worn by married women and women who are not married yet, who have graduated from furisode as formal or semi-formal wear.
It is suitable for sisters and relatives at weddings, and can also be worn at luxurious parties.
With five crests, which is the most formal, you will have less opportunities to wear it. With three crests, you will have more opportunities to wear it.
2. Houmongi 訪問着
It is a beautiful kimono with a eba (絵羽) pattern that straddles the seams.
High-class classic patterns and luxurious ones can be dressed as semi-formal dress with one crest (mon紋).
It is the most widely used kimono, but it is important to choose a suitable pattern depending on where you wear it. One crest (mon紋) is suitable for weddings and important tea ceremonies.
３. Tsukesage 付け下げ
This is the next rank of kimono after Houmongi. It is a simplified version of the the pattern similar to Houmongi. Although it has the similar eba (絵羽) pattern, Houmongi is a kimono that is dyed after cutting the fabric, while tsukesage is a kimono that is dyed as a piece of fabric.
Basically, the pattern does not cross the seams, so it is considered to be a lighter formal dress than the Houmongi.
However, nowadays it is difficult to distinguish them due to the diversification of patterns, so it is necessary to dress according to the pattern and luxury.
Furisode is worn by women who are not married yet and it features a splendid eba (絵羽) pattern and long sleeves.
Medium furisode (95 to 99 cm) is used for weddings and parties, and small furisode (60 to 67 cm) is used for Japanese tea parties and casual parties.
５．Iro Muji 色無地
Iro means coloured and Muji means plain. Iro Muji is a coloured kimono without any pattern on the fabric.
When five crests (mon紋) are attached it will be a formal wear. Generally, one crest (mon紋) is attached, and iro muji with one crest (mon紋) becomes a semi-formal wear with a prestigious belt (obi帯）.
One crest (mon紋) is suitable for tea ceremonies.
6. Edo Komon with Crest 江戸小紋の紋付
Developed from Edo period, it is a kimono dyed on white fabric with a fine pattern. It can be worn in the same way as a Iro Muji. If it is with one crest and the pattern is detailed and prestigious, it can be a semi-formal wear. However, Edo Komon that has a plain color, subtle pattern and without a crest can be used for a light outing.
Going Out Wear 外出着
1. Tsugesage Komon 付け下げ小紋
With a dyed Komon pattern, the rank of Tsugesage Komon will be the same as Komon. While general Komon is dyed with a repeating pattern without the concept of top and bottom, the feature of Tsukesage Komon is that the pattern always faces upward (especially at the shoulders) even with the same repeated pattern.
2. Komon Yuzen 小紋（友禅）
It is a colorful dyed kimono regardless of whether it is hand-drawn dye or dyed with quiling mould paper.
3. Komon 小紋
Komon is a kimono dyed with a repeated pattern.
It is regarded as a light outing, and is suitable for lessons, theater shows, meals with friends, and etc.
Since there is a wide variety of patterns, it is necessary to consider where to wear them depending on the pattern.
Even in a non-formal place, a kimono with a classic pattern is suitable for casual parties and light tea parties.
4. Tsumugi no Houmongi 紬の訪問着
Tsumugi is a representative of woven fabrics, it is a yarn-dyed woven fabric woven with knotted threads. Tsumugi no Houmongi is a dyed woven kimono with a eba (絵羽) pattern. It is considered to be a light Houmongi.
Same as Komon, it is necessary to think about where to wear it. It is mainly for casual parties and dinners, depending on the pattern.
5. Muji no Tsumugi 無地の紬
Muji means plain. Tsumugi is a representative of woven fabrics, it is a yarn-dyed woven fabric woven with knotted threads. Muji Tsumugi is a plain tsumugi. It is more formal than a tsumugi with Kasuri pattern or stripes.
6. Shibori 絞り
Shibori means pressing or squeezing. Shibori technique involves folding, twisting, bunching and dye the fabric. It results in frabric with small spider-like patterns.
7. Omeshi お召
Omeshi is the finest kimono for woven kimono.
Sarasa is a kimono with an exotic pattern of southern origin.
Street Wear, Daily Wear 街着・普段着
1. Tsumugi 紬
Tsumugi is a representative of woven fabrics, it is a yarn-dyed woven fabric woven with knotted threads. In the past, it was used as everyday wear, but nowadays it can be worn in various places as a light outing wear. It is suitable for casual fashion such as lessons, leisure meetings, and meals with friends. Even the most expensive tsumugi cannot be worn for weddings, tea ceremonies, and other formal occasions.
2. Kasuri 絣
Kasuri is a dyed pattern that is woven in a “smeared” pattern. Kasuri patterns have distinctive fuzzy edges, they are blurry, feather-edge patterns. In the past, it was used as everyday wear, but nowadays it can be worn in various places as a light outing wear. It is suitable for casual occassions such as lessons, leisure meetings, and meals with friends. Even the most expensive kasuri cannot be worn for weddings, tea ceremonies, and other prestigious clothing.
3. Honbakihachi 黄八丈
Honbakihachi is a kimono dyed with yellow stripes. It is for daily wear.
4. Wool ウール
Wool kimono is made of wool. It is a durable kimono for daily wear. It can come with different patterns. Along with cotton, it is a representative kimono for daily wear.
5. Meisen 銘仙
Meisen is a kimono of yarn-dyed plain weave silk fabric.
6. Momen 木綿
Momen is cotton. Momen is a kimono for everyday wear that can be washed at home and is easy to maintain. Along with wool, it is a representative kimono for daily wear.
7. Yukata 浴衣
Yukata is the most casual kimono among all kimonos. It is a relaxing summer outfit. Originally, it started with people in higher social status wearing it when taking a bath, but nowadays it can be worn as a light streetwear as well as at fireworks festivals, summer festivals, and at home.
1. Montsuki 紋付
Mon (紋) means family crest. Generally the whole family uses the same Mon on kimonos. Tsuki means to attach. Montsuki means kimono attached with family crest.
5 crests on a kimono is most formal one, follows by 3 crests, and then 1 crest:
5 crests: 1 at the back, two on the front shouders, 2 on the elbows
3 crests: 1 at the back, 2 on the elbows
1 crest: at the back
2. Eba 絵羽
Eba is a pattern that continues on the back, sides, folds, collar, sleeves.
Kuro tomesode (5 mon)
Tsumugi no Houmongi
Muji no tsumugi