One of the words that immediately come to mind when thinking of Japanese culture is, of course, the traditional garment, made up of the verb ki (to wear) and the noun mono (thing). The full-length costume came to fashion during the Heian period (794-1192).
The specialty of the new attire was the so-called straight-line-cut method, making kimonos suitable for each body shape. As it soon became clear, kimonos turned out to be really practical: they are easy to fold and perfect for each season. When worn as an extra layer, the robe-like dress keeps its wearer warm during the cold winter days, but it can also be made of lighter materials to offer a convenient way of dressing for summer.
Later on, kimonos were given all sorts of significations: their colors could refer to the season they were supposed to be worn for, but they could also reveal the political class to their owners belonged. The different warrior clans of the Kamakura period (1192-1338), the Muromachi period (1338-1573) or the Edo period (1603-1868) had their own specific choice of color, making the battlefield way too showy. During these times, the technique of kimono making became more and more refined, thus the piece of clothing grew into much more than a simple outfit: it eventually turned out to be a form of art, so valuable that parents started to hand their kimonos down to their children, making it a family treasure in many households.
From the end of 1800s, elements of the Western cultures gained more and more attention, influencing the everyday life of the Japanese to a great extent, the cult of kimono still managed to survive. Nowadays, Japanese people usually wear it for special occasions – weddings, funerals, festivals or tea ceremonies – with many international versions inspired by the special garb.
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