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12 Most Popular Types Of Kimono

When mentioning Japan, people will immediately think of the images of magnificent Fuji mountain, stunning cherry blossoms, romantic roads covered in red leaves, and of course Kimono – the traditional costume. Trying on Kimono is nearly a must for every tourist who come to Japan. However, a variety of Kimono types often cause struggle for visitors. If you are still wavering on what to wear, the introduction to types of Kimono below will be of some help.

12 Most Popular Types Of Kimono

1. Furisode

In Edo period, swinging large sleeves was a means of showing sentiment, so Furisode (Furi: swing, sode: sleeve) is the Kimono style designed for unmarried women. Girls often wear Furisode on formal occasions such as wedding, tea ceremony or the coming of age ceremony. This kimono type is made of high-quality silks with bright colors. One special point of the design is the very long and large sleeves that cover the hands. Dependent on the length of sleeves, Furisode is categorized into 3 types: the Kofurisode with short sleeves, the Chu-furisode with medium sleeves and the Ofurisode where the sleeves almost reach the ground. In Japanese culture, that girls wear Furisode means they are ready to get married.

types of kimono

Wearing Furisode means a girl is mature and ready to get married

Gender expressed: Feminine, Unmarried

2. Tomesode

Unlike Furisode, Tomesode is the type of Kimono for married women whether they divorced or not. This Kimono style is specialized by short and narrow sleeves and simple-but-elegant patterns at the end of the lap. The traditional design is often black and embroidered family token on it. Women only wear Tomesode on the important occasion of family or relatives such as wedding.

Women only wear Tomesode on the important occasion of family or relatives such as wedding.

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Gender expressed: Feminine, Married

3. Houmongi

In Japanese, “houmon” means visiting. Houmongi is worn by women (often unmarried women) in formal occasions such as wedding ( often friends of the brides) and tea ceremony or other formal parties. The kimono body is in plain color with the same patterns in the shoulders, sleeves and lower lap of kimono. Japanese parents often buy houmongi as a gift for their daughters before they get married.

Houmongi has same patterns in the shoulders, sleeves and lower lap of kimono

Gender expressed: Feminine

4. Tsukesage

Tsukesage is the type of Kimono that is worn on tea ceremonies, flower arrangement meetings and friend’s wedding. The design of Tsukesage bears a huge resemblance to that of Houmongi  The difference is that the patterns of Tsukesage are more modest and cover a smaller area than Houmongi’s.

types of kimono

Different from Houmongi, patterns in the lower lap of Tsukesage just cover a smaller area

Gender expressed: Feminine, Married

5. Iromuji

Iromuji (色 無 地), which means “plain color”, is probably the easiest type of kimono to wear, although it may be less mentioned in kimono introductions. As its name suggests, it has only one color, no other patterns except submerged woven pattern on the fabric if sewn from rinzu, so it is less popular than other patterned and colorful kimonos. Iromuji can have any color, except black and white. This kimono type can be worn by both married and unmarried women, and the older women are, the more elegant colors will be preferred. Iromuji may not have a crest, or have a 1 or 3 or 5 crests. The presence of crests raises the formality of kimono.

Iromuji is plain and single-colored

Gender expressed: Feminine

6. Komon

Komon, which literally means small pattern, has repeated patterns throughout the garment.  This kimono style is more casual and may be worn around town. The fabric is very diverse, ranging from silk, wool, polyester to rayon. This was the most common dress in Japan before Western clothes became popular in Japan.

types of kimono

The same patterns stretch out on Komon in every direction

Gender expressed: Masculine and Feminine

7. Mofuku

This type of Kimono is solid black, and all the accessories are also in black. Mofuku is formal mourning dress for men or women. The completely black mourning ensemble is usually reserved for family and others who are close to the deceased.

Covered in solid black, Mokuku is mourning attire

Gender expressed: Masculine and Feminine

8. Uchikake

Uchikake is a very formal kimono worn by brides or stage performers. It is worn outside the actual kimono, so it is never tied with an obi. The Uchikake design (mainly bridal costume) use red or white as the base colors. This dress is longer than other types of Kimono, often trails the floor.

With red or white as the base colors, Uchikake is a very formal kimono worn by brides or stage performers

Gender expressed: Feminine

9. Shiromuku

This type of Kimono is the most complicated and worn in the traditional wedding. The dress is very long and trails the floor in the circle, so the brides need others’ assistance to walk steadily. In contrast to Mofuku, Shiromuku and all the accessories including a headdress called tsunokakushi and chonmage (a kind of traditional topknot) are all in white – the color of purity and maidenhood of the bride coming into the marriage.

types of kimono

Shiromuku is the most complicated and worn by women in the traditional wedding

Gender expressed: Feminine, Married

10. Susohiki/ Hikizuri

The susohiki is usually worn by geisha or by stage performers of the traditional Japanese dance. Like Shiromuku, the dress is very long, up to 2m (about 6.6 ft), and trails the floor. However, the design of Susohiki is different from others’. Normally, the kimono collar is a fist-size down from the nape of the neck, but Susohiki’s is even lower than this. In order not to show the pulled-down collar, the seam between the shoulders and sleeves are longer in the front than in the back. 

Susohiki is the costume of geisha and stage performers

Gender expressed: Feminine

11. Juunihitoe

Juunihitoe is an extremely elegant and highly complex type of kimono that was only worn by Japanese court-ladies. The Juunihitoe consist of various layers which are silk garments, with the innermost garment being made of white silk. This Kimono type is among the most expensive Japanese clothings. Today, Juunihitoe can only be seen in movies, museums, festivals or in some important events of the Imperial Household.

Juunihitoe is an extremely elegant and highly complex kimono that was only worn by Japanese court-ladies

Gender expressed: Feminine

12. Yukata

Last but not least, Yukata may be the most well-known type of Kimono to foreigners. It is a type of kimono made of ordinary cotton, used in summer. Compared to Furisode, Yukata are much simpler. As a result, Japanese women know how to wear it without help just after learning for several times. In the past, the traditional Yukata usually had only two sets of colors: white – black or blue – white, but in the last few years this kimono style has been designed in many eye-catching colors. In ancient times, Yukata was only used at home as bathing wear, but today, Yukata is often worn by both men and women on Bon-Odori day (Japanese traditional dance festival in summer) and other summer festivals. Moreover, tourists can also see Yukata in traditional Japanese inns.

types of kimono

Yukata is colorful summer kimono

Gender expressed: Masculine and Feminine.

Conclusion

Japanese people have used Kimono for hundreds of years. Today, Kimono is usually worn only on important holidays and events. Women wear Kimono more regularly than men, and woman kimono often have brighter colors and more eye-catching patterns. Men wear kimono primarily in weddings and tea ceremony ceremonies, and kimono for men are usually darker and pattern-free.

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.