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The kimono is the traditional clothing of Japan. Kimono styles have changed significantly from one period of Japan's history to another, and today there are many different types of kimono worn by men, women, and children. The cut, color, fabric, and decorations of a kimono may vary according to the sex, age, and marital status of the wearer, the season of the year, and the occasion for which the kimono is worn.

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Jomon Period (Before 300 AD)

The clothes of this period were made of hemp and loosely fastened. There was no distinction between male and female clothing.


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Yamato Period (300-550 A.D.)

Yamato clothing consisted of two pieces, an upper and lower piece. The upper piece had tight sleeves. During this period the art of raising silk worms was introduced in Japan by Chinese settlers. At this time, they had no skills or techniques for dyeing clothes, so the silk fabric remained white.


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Heian Period Junihito

To protect against high humidity, buildings had elevated floors made of tatami mats. The convention of sitting on the floor became an important part of the life style. Clothing became stiffer and more voluminous. Court women wore 10, 12, 15 or even 20 layers at a time. This layered dressing is called "juni-hito" which literally means "12 layers." The layered color pattern reflected many things including seasons, directions, virtues, and elements of the earth as they related to spirits of nature. The multiple layers also helped in staying warm in winter.


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Edo Period (1601-1867 A.D.)

During this period, commerce and industry developed rapidly. Merchants began to have more power than the Samurai.

Better dyeing techniques were developed. The "Yuzen" dyeing technique (a dye-resist dyeing process) was developed and became popular because any color could be used and could dye many different complex patterns such as flowers and birds.

Kimono were now made of multicolored, highly decorated fabric, and were worn in a single layer.

The belt, or obi, which until this time period was tied in the front, was now tied in the back. See A Woman's Kimono - Obi for some modern obi examples.


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A Woman's Kimono - Yukata

In the summer,many women wear a yukata, a light-weight cotton kimono, to attend festivals. Most yukata are navy blue and white, but girls and young women sometimes wear brightly colored, floral pattered yukata. Some people wear them around the house. Japanese inns and hot spring resorts often provide yukata for guests to wear in their rooms.


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