Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (2022)

Japan has a wide range of traditional clothing of which the kimono is the most well-known. The kimono is also labelled as the national costume of Japan and comes in many different types and accessories. Before WWII, most people in Japan wore kimonos and other traditional clothing every day, however, today you see them only on special occasions such as festivals, ceremonies, and weddings or in historical cities like Kyoto. There are various types of Japanese traditional clothing depending on the occupations, gender, and age of a person or occasions. In this article, we introduce Japanese traditional clothing and accessories.


Kimono literally means a “thing to wear” in Japanese. Today, a kimono is worn only so often, mainly during special and formal occasions such as weddings, tea ceremonies, formal traditional events and funerals. There are many different types and styles of kimonos and appropriate style and color of kimono are chosen depending on the occasion and the person’s age and marital status.

The history of this traditional Japanese garment goes back to the Heian period (794-1192). Over time, people started wearing the kimono as everyday clothing and gradually layering came into fashion. By the Edo period (1603-1868), kimono making had become a specialized craft. During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), various foreign cultures heavily influenced the Japanese culture, clothes being also part of this. The Japanese government started to encourage people to adopt new (Western) clothing styles. Today Japanese people are wearing Western-style clothing and only wear the kimono for special occasions.

Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (1)

Components of a kimono

A kimono is traditionally crafted from handmade and hand-decorated fabrics, including linen, silk, and hemp. Materials such as polyester, cotton, and rayon are also often used nowadays. Decoration techniques include embroidery, painting and dyeing. Men’s kimonos usually have more subdued colors than a women’s kimonos, which is generally more colorful and has beautiful, rich patterns. A women’s kimono is accompanied by a wide belt called obi, which is often a piece of art in itself with gorgeous patterns and colors. There are various techniques for tying an obi and making a bow.

Kimonos were traditionally worn with 1 to 20 layers for fashion and warmth depending on the formality of the occasion, the social status of a person wearing the kimono and the season. These layers include a nagajuban, a simple robe that is worn under a kimono. People used to wear another layer of clothing between nagajuban and kimono called hiyoku for a formal occasion. Today, however, hiyoku is substituted by tsuke-hiyoku, which are partial double layers at the legs or collar that make it seem like you are wearing a hiyoku.

Types of kimono

There are many different types of kimono, especially for women, depending on occasions, the person’s age and marital status. The furisode or swinging sleeves is worn by unmarried women and girls, and has long sleeves. The furisode usually comes in bright colors and dramatic designs, and today most women wear it during the coming of age ceremony.

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The yukata is a casual version of the kimono popularly worn at ryokan and during summer festivals by both men and women. A yukata is traditionally made of cotton, and today sometimes it is also made of polyester. Because a yukata is worn without undergarments, it is lighter than other types of kimono. Though it is the most informal, the yukata is the most popular among Japanese kimono types, and you can see people wearing yukata not only during festivals but also in historical cities like Kyoto. Being a much cheaper alternative to the traditional kimono, a yukata is also a popular souvenir among tourists!

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The price ofa kimono

The price of a kimono can vary greatly depending on the material used and decorations, the typical fee for a basic kimono starts at ¥20,000, with silk kimonos priced somewhere between ¥380,000 to ¥10 million. Luxurious silk kimonos with rich embroidery and/or painting can easily cost up to millions of yen. This is part of the reason why good quality kimonos are passed down from generation to generation. Today, many people also rent a kimono to wear at weddings or other formal ceremonies.Yukata prices range between ¥3,000 and¥10,000 and are widely available. Many souvenir shops sell them, but also mainstream shops such as UNIQLO sell the traditional Japanese summer wear.

Haori & Hakama

Haori and hakama are, when worn together, a formal outfit for men typically worn by a groom during wedding, coming of age ceremony, and other big life events.

A haori is an overcoat worn on top of a kimono. In the past, haori were worn by men in battles to protect them against the cold. However, in modern Japan, haori are also used as a work uniform of those working in classical Japanese theater, or as an overcoat to be worn over yukata in ryokan. Women can also use haori over kimono.

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  • Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (5)

The hakama is a skirt-like pants worn with a kimono. The Japanese hakama were originally worn only by men such as samurai and people participating Shinto rituals. However, in the modern era women also wear them on certain occasions including a university graduation ceremony. A hakama is also worn by people working at a shrine, or when doing kendo (Japanese swordsmanship), kyudo (Japanese archery), aikido and other martial arts.

Happi & Hanten

A hanten is a short winter coat with cotton padding for warmth and a tailored collar. It was originally worn over a kimono or other garments for both women and men. It is similar to haori, however, in the Edo period wearing haori was restricted to certain social classes, while hanten were available to all.

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  • Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (7)

A happi is also a short coat but much more casual than the haori or hanten. Happi were originally worn by house servants as the family crest representatives. In the past, firefighters also used to wear a happi, the symbol on their backs would refer to the group to which they belonged to. A happi comes usually in plain colors, typically blue, with white, red, and black. Nowadays a happi is worn mainly during festivals, with the kanji for matsuri (festival in Japanese), printed on the back, and it often comes with a matching headband.


The fundoshi is a comfortable and very traditional Japanese male undergarment, made from a length of cotton. Until WWII, a fundoshi was mainstream underwear among men in Japan, and there were several different types which were worn for different events, situations, and among different people. Nowadays, you probably only see fundoshi being worn at traditional festivals. Sumo wrestlers also wear a type of fundoshi called mawashi.

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  • Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (9)

Samue and Jinbei

Samue and jinbei are traditional relaxing clothes made from cotton or hemp, and are typically dyed with a solid color such as indigo, blue or green. They both come in a matching set of a top and trousers.

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  • Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (11)

A samue was originally worn by Buddhist monks when they work, while the jinbei was used by townspeople for everyday use.Samue are often worn by farmers when working in the garden.

The samue and junbei look very similar to each other, but the crucial difference between the two is the pants. The trousers of the samue are long trousers up to the ankle, and Jinbei are shorts under the knee. The second major difference is that many of jinbei are knitted with yarn about the shoulder parts for better ventilation. The samue is worn regardless of the season, but jinbei is basically summer clothing.

Japanese traditional accessories


When women wear kimono, they usually use kanzashi, hair ornaments, to complement their traditional Japanese hairstyles. The kanzashi has a long history and is still worn by many in modern times. When attending a formal event, many women will wear a kanzashi in their hair.

There are many types of kanzashi including Tama (ball) kanzashi, Hirauchi (flat) kanzashi, Yuremono (swinging) kanzashi, Musubi (knot) kanzashi, Tsumami (knob crafted) kanzashi, and Bachi gata (fan shaped) kanzashi. Hair combs can also be beautifully decorated and used as a hair ornament.

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  • Traditional Japanese Clothing and Accessories (13)


Tabi are traditional Japanese socks dating back to the 15th century. They are typically made of cotton and are worn by both women and men with footwear such as zori and sometimes geta when people wear kimono.

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They are a type of tabi but made of heavier, rougher material and often having rubber soles. While tabi are used as socks, jika-tabi are usually used as outer footwear like a pair of boots. They are used by construction workers, farmers, gardeners, rickshaw-pullers and other laborers.

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Geta are traditional Japanese sandals that look like flip-flops. The most classic style of geta consists of one board of solid wooden base elevated with two smaller pegs. On the top of the shoe you will find the v-shaped strip of cloth known as the hanao. Oiran, high-ranking courtesans in the Edo period in Japan, wore tall, lacquered koma-geta or mitsu-ashi (literally “three legs”) when walking in a parade with their attendants.

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Zori are traditional sandals that look similar to geta, and can be made of rice straw, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, or rubber. Women’s zori are always raised in the heel while men’s zori are always flat. Some beautifully decorated women’s zori are worn with kimono.

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Okobo, also known as pokkuri, are the wooden platform sandals worn by young girls, women, and Maiko (apprentice geisha) in some regions of Japan. They are typically created from a solid block of wood, between 10 to 15 cm in size, and usually feature small bells tied to the underside of the shoe’s slope.

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A hachimaki is a Japanese headband, usually made of red or white cloth. Japanese legend states that hachimaki strengthens the spirit and keeps you safe from evil spirits and demons. It is thought that the trend started with the samurai, who wore the headbands under their helmets to absorb sweat, and to keep the helmets in place during battle. Today they are worn as a symbol of effort or courage, especially by those in the military or by students in exam period, or at the festivals.

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The literal meaning of tenugui is hand wipe. A tenugui is a cotton towel that has been used by Japanese households since the 9th century. These multi-purpose cloths are used everyday as hand towels, dishcloths, and washcloths. They are typically about 35 by 90 centimeters in size, plain woven, and almost always dyed with some pattern, often they have such beautiful and colorful designs, people also use them as a headwrap or head band. They are sometimes even used as decorations and hung on the wall like tapestries.

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Japanese traditional clothing and accessories are an important part of Japanese culture. Some of the traditions are already centuries old and people take great pride in wearing the appropriate attire for certain events. When you are in Japan, you will have opportunities to find people wearing the different items, especially when you visit the more traditional or touristic areas. You can also purchase at specialty shops, but be aware that these can be surprisingly expensive. When you are looking for a great souvenir or just for a option try on some of the traditional Japanese clothing, look for the many kimono rental shops. At the tourist spots like Kawagoe, Kamakura, Gion district in Kyoto or Asakusa in Tokyo, you will find many different options for kimono rental, some even including photoshoots or tea ceremonies!

Happy traveling!

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What are the traditional clothes of Japanese? ›

The traditional dress of Japan is the kimono. Kimonos, which are generally made of silk, have large sleeves and reach from the shoulders all the way down to the heels. They are tied with a wide belt called an obi.

What is a Japanese robe called? ›

Kimono and Yukata are traditional Japanese garments that have charmed their way around the world due to their beauty and style. Both are full-length T-shaped robes that have long sleeves and are secured with a decorative belt, worn by both men and women.

What is male kimono called? ›

An alternative to the yukata for men to wear in the summer is jinbei. Jinbei are two-piece garments consisting of a kimono-like top and loose-fitting, mid-calf length trousers. The best are made from natural fabrics; you can take a look at some men's jinbei in our collection.

What should you not wear with a kimono? ›

Bare feet and fancy socks are not recommended! A little advice if you wish to wear a kimono someday: put on your pair of tabi before putting on your kimono because, once you are wrapped in this straight garment, it won't be easy to reach your feet.

What do you wear under a yukata? ›

To prevent sweating on and staining your yukata, you should wear something underneath, preferably cotton, which is the most comfortable and absorbent during hot weather. For women, there are dedicated yukata underwear known as the hadajuban, which can also come in an extended robe-like version.

What is a kimono tie called? ›

What is an 'obi'? This item is an obi (oh-bee), a large sash used in traditional Japanese clothing for women. The obi functions as the tie used to keep traditional Japanese robes, known as kimono (kee-moh-no) secured in place.

What are winter kimonos called? ›

Furisode kimonos used to be worn by both men and women, and there was no difference in the color patterns or design. However, the furisode is now thought of as a feminine garment. While furisode kimonos are worn by young women at special events, a tomesode is usually a formal dress for a married woman.

What are short kimonos called? ›

The haori (羽織) is a traditional Japanese hip- or thigh-length jacket worn over a kimono. Resembling a shortened kimono with no overlapping front panels (okumi), the haori typically features a thinner collar than that of a kimono, and is sewn with the addition of two thin, triangular panels at either side seam.

What are Japanese shirts called? ›

1. Kimono. The most iconic and easily recognisable of all traditional Japanese wear, the kimono (着物) is still a staple piece for many Japanese people and is growing in international appeal too.

Can foreigners wear kimono? ›

Can foreigners wear kimono? To get straight to the point: As long as a kimono is worn out of respect and appreciation of the Japanese culture, it's perfectly fine to wear a kimono as a foreigner.

What is a Japanese haori? ›

Simply put, a haori (羽織) is a Japanese traditional jacket with a loose fit. The word haori is derived from the word haoru, meaning to put on a gown, coat or jacket, and can be considered a clothing item along the lines of a jacket, or cardigan in Western clothing.

Is it kimono or yukata? ›

Kimono are usually made from different types of silk, while yukata are generally made from cotton or polyester. This reflects the fact that in general, kimono are more luxurious and formal. Yukata are cheaper, more casual, and made to be cooler since they are worn during the summer months.

What does a Japanese woman wear? ›

The kimono is the traditional dress of Japan. It's got long sleeves and reaches from the shoulders all the way down to one's heels. Different types of kimono are worn depending on the occasion; kimonos for everyday wear are a lot simpler than those for formal occasions.

What clothes do Japanese men wear? ›

For men, the hakama is traditional formal attire. It can be a pleated skirt or full-cut trousers worn over the top of a regular kimono donned for formal occasions like weddings and also for martial arts.

What are female kimonos called? ›

Tomesode is the most formal kimono type worn by married women. Specifically, the pattern of a Tomesode is always below the waist and has a beautiful design. In fact, it sometimes includes gold. In western culture, this kimono type is equivalent to and evening dress.

Is it OK to wear red in Japan? ›

In fact, as far as fabrics are concerned, red is considered in Japan as the happiest color you can get.

What is the most famous clothing in Japan? ›

1. Kimono. The most iconic and easily recognisable of all traditional Japanese wear, the kimono (着物) is still a staple piece for many Japanese people and is growing in international appeal too.

Is it OK to wear black in Japan? ›

You can wear all black whenever and where ever you like. Tank tops and shorts are perfectly fine. Working Japanese usually do not wear shorts, so you don't see them in shorts except on weekends. But you see lots of people on leisurely activities (including tourists) wearing them.

What are Japanese pants called? ›

Hakama are a pant-like garment worn over a kimono. Hakama are affixed by a series of strings that are wound about the body and then tied at the back. Hakama are typically worn with tabi (Japanese split-toe socks) and Japanese style sandals.

What are Japanese pajamas called? ›

In Japan, pajamas are called yukata or jinbei. Yukaya are always one-piece garments with wide sleeves and are traditionally made from cotton or silk fabrics in bright colors. Yukata are popular for both formal wear or daywear depending on the style chosen.

What colors do Japanese like? ›

Blue was named the most popular color among people living in Japan, according to a survey conducted in September 2019. Almost 40 percent of respondents preferred the color blue over any other color, while green was ranked second, with approximately 16 percent of votes.

What is a sleeveless kimono called? ›

Originating around the 3rd century, there are records of a one-cloth garment worn by both men and women. This is considered the starting point for the Japanese kimono as we now know it. For women, it started as the kantoi, a sleeveless garment. This then evolved into the kosode, which had small sleeves.

What are kimonos made of? ›

The main fabrics for traditional Japanese kimono are silk, linen, cotton, wool, and polyester. Silk kimono are very glossy and beautiful.

What are 3 main cultural values in Japan? ›

Harmony, order, and self-development are three of the most important values that underlie Japanese social interaction. Basic ideas about self and the nature of human society are drawn from several religious and philosophical traditions.

What is the most important culture in Japan? ›

Deeply rooted in Japan's unique Shinto religion and traditional agrarian lifestyle, Japan is a country with a vibrant “matsuri” culture.

What is important to Japanese culture? ›

Nonetheless, common themes found throughout Japanese culture include a sense of identity based on social groups and place of birth, a polite and humble style of communication, a pragmatic approach to situations and challenges, as well as an appreciation and enjoyment of artistic activities and forms of entertainment.


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