Japanese Wedding Kimono – A Unique Costume For Beautiful Brides In Japan

Japanese wedding kimono is a traditional costume peculiar to the land of the rising sun. And this unique dress definitely appears in an important event of Japanese people, wedding – the once in a lifetime occasion. If it is the traditional Shinto-style wedding, Japanese brides shall wear gorgeous kimonos on this special day. There are many types of wedding kimono for them to choose from.

Introduction On Japanese Wedding Kimono

Japanese wedding day

Wedding ceremonies in Japan follow various styles. It can be Shinto – the most traditional ritual or civil, Christian – the ones that are quite Westernized. Though a lot of foreign features have been adopted for many years, the unique Japanese culture, lore, and etiquette are still alive and well. 

A traditional wedding ceremony would be held in Shino style and it normally takes place in religious shrines. Shinto is the indigenous faith of Japan and is the major religion along with Buddhism. The wedding is an all-day event, commencing with the main ritual being performed by a Shinto priest. In some shrines, there are strict rules about dresses, number of guests and posture while attending the ceremonial. Holding a wedding in Shinto style is the most common in Japan at this time.

Besides, several couples also opt for Christian wedding ceremonies not because their religion is Christian, but due to the fact that this new form of wedding is trendy and convenient. 

Japanese wedding dress

The couple, especially the bride, are expected to change a range of outfits throughout their wedding day. 

Commonly, both members of the couples wear Japanese traditional clothes, which is Kimono, in their traditional ceremony. At first, grooms usually dress in montsuki – a formal kimono in black on which his family’s symbol is embroidered in white. Whereas, brides wear a white wedding dress called “uchikake” with also white headdress. The mothers of the bride and groom are also expected to dress in “tomesode,” which are formal, black kimono embroidered with colorful designs. The fathers wear black suits with white ties.

After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will have time to change their clothes and get ready for a celebratory meal with their families and guests. The groom may change his tuxedo into suit and tie, or maybe just his waistcoat. The bride, on the other hand, goes through an entire overhaul including her hair, make-up, and kimono. The first make-up of the day is much like a geisha – the traditional Japanese bride’s make-up while the later one looks more natural. The second kimono worn by brides is brightly colored. 

Types of wedding kimono

1. Shiromuku

Shiromuku is originally worn by brides from the samurai families. It is a mostly white ensemble that stands out among all of kimono wedding dresses. The reason for Shiromuku being the most popular wedding kimono is that its white color symbolizes the pureness, cleanness or virginity. Another profound meaning is that the brides will take on the other color of the grooms or accept the values and ideas of the grooms’ families.

Japanese wedding kimono

The reason for Shiromuku being the most popular wedding kimono is that its white color symbolizes the pureness, cleanness or virginity.

Shiromuku kimono consists of a furisode kimono whose trailing hem is called kakeshita. Then, a broad sash (known as a maru or fukuro obi) is worn around the waist. And the brides shall wear a robe called uchikake outside.

Not only the robes, other accessories of Shiromuku are all white. Wataboshi – a large white hood is one of the most important accessories of Shiromuku kimono. It is equivalent to the veil in Western bridal dress. Other brides also can choose to wear a tsunokakushi which is adorned with ornaments. There are many anecdotes about the meaning of wearing those hats, and no one can tell which is true. Some people say that they hide the bad spirits from the long hair of the bride. But they are often said to cover the brides’ face from others except for her grooms.

Japanese wedding kimono

Wataboshi – a large white hood is one of the most important accessories of Shiromuku kimono.

Shiromuku ensemble is white, so it is believed to be suitable for the wedding ceremony held in temples, pagodas or any religious places.

2. Uchikake

Japanese wedding kimono has many other types of colorful dresses, not only the all-white Shiromuku. Uchikake is a long outer robe that can be in white or red – orange. Japanese brides would wear uchikake over kakeshita kimono. The patterns on this kimono are elegant roses and Western motifs colored in pastel pink or purple shades, which gives the dress a very refreshing and contemporary beauty.

Japanese wedding kimono

Uchikake is a long outer robe that can be in white or red – orange color.

The brides also wear Iro-Uchikake in the wedding reception. Iro-Uchikake is often in a bright color like red, gold or turquoise. The patterns on the garment are often beautiful designs like cherry blossoms, gorgeous flowers, and leaves, cranes or other auspicious Japanese images. Wearing Iro-Uchikake is often meant to bring good luck or symbolize longevity and prosperity.

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3. Hikifurisode

Hikifurisode is most favored Japanese wedding kimono nowadays. Actually, this wedding dress has been popular since the Edo period. In the past, it was worn by the brides from wealthy samurai families. Today, the brides wear hikifurisode right after the wedding ceremony. When wearing this dress, the bride’s hair is in modern Western style.

Japanese wedding kimono

Black hikifurisode is the most popular with the fabrics embroidered in gold or silver threads. The patterns on it are truly works of art.

This wedding kimono has long sleeves with a silhouette elegantly reaching down the trailing hem (hiki), making feminine and sophisticated effect. Hikifurisode is also known as “ohikizuri” (dragging kimono). Black hikifurisode is the most popular with the fabrics embroidered in gold or silver threads. The patterns on it are truly works of art.

Hikifurisode is belonged to furisode style. Furisode is a type of kimono wedding dress with long sleeves but no trailing hem. It is worn only by single women in the wedding reception which is the last time before they begin their married lives.

4. Kakeshita

Kakeshita is a traditional Japanese wedding dress also in furisode style that has long sleeves with a slightly padded hem at the bottom. The hem is made of precious and luxurious fabrics, such as “Morinzu” or “Habutae” silk.

Japanese wedding kimono

Left: Black Kakeshita; Right: the fabric of Kakeshita kimono

Kakeshita kimono has two types: the Shirokakeshita (pure white but a little deeper) and the Irokakeshita (colorful kimono, often red, orange and gold). The former has the padded hem that drags on the ground in an attractive fashion, like the Western wedding dress. The latter, unlike a traditional Furisode, has more elaborate patterns that are hand-painted or embroidered with golden threads and have meaningful symbols of longevity (pine), life-long mate (cranes),… The patterning of Irokakeshita is separated around the mid-section where a formal obi belt will cover.

Irokakeshita is not as popular as Shirokakeshita but the brides can still change their dress if they wish.

FAQs

1. Do man where Shiromuku?

Males do not have a difference between being married or unmarried. It is common to wear “Iro-Montsuki” (色紋付 coloured kimono with family crests) which comes in colours other than black. Haori is similar to Western-style jacket for a suit, so always wear haori at weddings.

2. Do brides wear red in Japan?

Shinto brides and grooms typically wear kimono; the second dress of brides could be in red.

3. What accessories Japanese brides wear?

Footwear consists of tabi socks and zōri sandals and accessories include a hakoseko purse, sensu folding fan, and sometimes a kaiken knife (from the age of the samurai). While western brides often wear veils, the shiromuku often consists of wearing a large white hood known as a wataboshi. One interesting tradition often embraced by Japanese brides is wearing floral accessories or a headdress on hair. 

4. How is Japanese bride makeup?

Nowadays, several Japanese brides prefer natural-looking makeup with shades of pale pink across eyelids or soft greys and browns blended out instead of the heavy make-up style of the traditional geisha.

5. Do Japanese rent or buy wedding dresses?

In Japan, it is more common for couples to rent wedding dresses instead of buying ones. Because Japanese weddings do not consist of dancing and party sections like in Western celebrations, it is quite easy for the bride and groom to keep their clothes clean. 

Price for a rented wedding kimono for rent is even higher than the average cost for purchasing a Western wedding dress. Luckily, all of the accessories are included in the rental of the kimono. The groom is also in rentals for the events. Some exceptions include his suit worn at the meal after the wedding ceremony.

Conclusion

Japanese wedding kimono is gaining popularity among brides-to-be. It has advanced to a wide range of fashionable styles with high-quality materials. This not only gives the Japanese brides more option but also shows out their beauty in the most important days of their lives.

About Hayami Mori

Hayami Mori is an awesome travel blogger & photographer. She was born and raised in Tokyo and have been here for nearly 25 years. She loves traveling and always wants to introduce her beautiful Japan to travelers from all over the world. Therefore, her blog is a great source of information for people looking for what to do in Japan as well as provides some tips to make their trips unforgettable.