Friday, March 6, 2009

Posting 1: Something to wear or more than that?

women's kimono
men's kimono

First Assignment!!!

The kimono has had a long history in Japan and the kimono has changed over time to reflect the society and culture of tha period.

During the Heian period (794-1185), the custom of elaborate layers of colored kimono robes became popular with Japanese women. Jun-Hitoe, twelve unlined robes were frequently worn with the sleeve edges and colars showing the shades of each kimono. Persons of the royal court sometimes wear up to sixteen kimono layers. During the Kamakura period of 1185-1133 with the rising influence of the military class and worriors, people had no patience or need for elaborate kimono. Practicality prevailed and during this period the kosode meaning small sleeve was introduced into the kimono.

In 1615, military leader Tokugawa moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto, where the emperor resided to Edo, the present Tokyo. Confucianism was adopted and hierarchy became the guiding principle where citizens were ranked based on their class. During the Edo period, people began to define their status by their kimono clothing. During this time, the greatest artistic accomplisments were made with the kimono.

After 1853, the US Navy sailed to Tokyo and the beginning of Japan's commercial industry was opened to the western world. Although Japanese people continued to wear kimono for another hundred years, the beginning of the end of this practice was near.

During the Meiji period of 1868-1912, women began working outside their homes and required different clothing to accommodate their work. The Japanese people developed techniques to compete with the machine woven cloth available from the west. Cloth from other parts of the world were bought to make the kimono and the clothing. During Taisho perios of 1912-1926, Tokyo suffered a devastating earthquake which leveled most of the homes. Many of the old kimono were lost at this time.

During the Showa period of 1926-1989, the Japanese government curtained silk production by taxing it to support the military buildup. Kimono design became less complex and the material was conserved. After World War II, as Japan's economy gradually recovered, kimono became even more affordable and were produced in greater quantities. Europe and America fashion ideas affected the kimono designs and motifs, but their shape remained the same. Kimono and obi colors changed with the season and with the age and status of the wearer.

To know more about kimono and instructions on how to wear them, go to this link:

I was doing a research on how to wear a kimono last couple of weeks for my assignment when I stumble upon the article above. Why a kimono? I have my own reasons for that. people around me should know that I am a fanatic when it comes to anything that related to Japan or Japanese culture but how I come to choose kimono as a topic is not only on a whim.

The fact that kimono is the traditional clothes of the Japanese is widely known but not many people really know about the history of it. The kimono is not only about the layers of clothing a person is wearing; it is about the steps on how to put it on. One of the reasons why I admire about the Japanese culture is their discipline and following the rules when doing something, and we can see that when putting on a kimono.

Putting on a kimono is not as simple as putting on Malay's baju kurung, Chinese's cheong sam or even Indian's saree. The very first layer of the kimono is a very thin plain cloth acts as a undergarment (besides the ones we already wear inside ^_^). Before putting on another layer of kimono, the wearer will put on a pair of white socks, called tabi. As far as I know, there is no other attire in the world that require the person who wears it to put on socks first before the whole outfit. The reason for this is because once a person completely dressed in a kimono, it would be very difficult to bend down to put on the socks. Next, another layer of the kimono called the nagajuban should be put on. However, due to the weather condition these days, they prefer to wear a simpler version or juban which is in the form of the juban colar because this is the only part of the layer that will be shown when the last kimono layer is worn. The final layer of kimono, which is the one with the beautiful motifs and designs is put on. One thing the wearer will have to make sure is that they have to wrap the left side of the kimono over the right side. If it is done the other way round, it is to dress up a corpse for a burial.

The kimono is not done just by putting on the layers of clothing. Like I mentioned earlier, wearing kimono is not as simple as how we pronounce it. Another essential thing for kimono is the belt, called obi. To put on obi, there is another sets of steps to follow. There is four types of sash to be wear with kimono. the first it the koshi-himo sash, then the date-jime sash. Next the obi sash and finally the obi-jime cord. All of the sash serve different purposes. Lastly, a kimono will not be complete without accessories like hair pins, geta slippers, etc.

It is quite confusing for those who is not familiar with kimono but this is part of the reason why I picked this article as my topic. We will never learn about other culture if we never take initiative to find out about it. There are issues about language barriers and limited source of information, but when there's a will, there's a way. What I can conclude from my research is that, when I was looking for all these informations, I learned about a lot of things. Of course, I gained more information about kimono in Japanese history and also learn on how to put on a kimono. However, the most valuable thing that I learn is that when we do anything, we have to follow the instructions and have a discipline when doing that. I used to be a person who usually did not pay attention to details when reading. But without reading carefully and follow the steps, I would be giving the wrong informations and mislead other people. Finally, in the aspects of language, I think reading and writing (or typing) makes me more alert on the mistakes I make throughout the process and it is hard to stop writing when I am in the mood of doing so ^^.

I categorize the article above as reading for information (but i also read on the instructions, could this be incidental reading as well???)


norizan said...

This is reading for information and what you have put up is very interesting for many. Incidental reading is you are doing reading incidentally. For example reading to find information on the differences and similarities of search engines. I will clarify this further in class ok.