La Japonaise

Note: I am writing this in a form of observation and a mere opinion.

Since I came to Japan, some people have been asking me whether I have worn a kimono. I have never had a chance yet.  Due to my poor knowledge about kimono etiquette I wondered whether it would be appropriate, I wouldn’t feel comfortable and wouldn’t possibly want to offend other people.

Yet it is interesting that Japanese people seem to be very encouraging when it comes to foreigners trying on a kimono.

There are many types of kimono, accessories and it requires some skill to know how to wear it. Some can be worn on a daily basis and some for a special occasion. And there is also a man kimono of course!

Diversity! Diversity!

Maybe the one which I have seen the most is a casual summer kimono-like garment: yukata. ( Yukata: is a less formal wear, lighter with shorter sleeves, normally used in summer).

In the past and even till now, not everyone could afford a kimono and many of this garment as well as how-to-wear-it-skill passed from one generation to another.

I see Japanese people wearing a kimono or a kimono-like garment for a special purpose or just go to a conbini (convenience store).

Nowadays, people coming to Japan can rent a kimono for a day for the sake of culture experience.

Many fashion designers have been influenced by kimono’s layout and reinvented it into their own creations.

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Kimono Times

Yet. There is sense and sensibility. Some people have been discussing this issue and there are even cases of commotion over apparent cultural appropriation due to lack of awareness and portrayal of stereotypical views.

I think it is a complicated issue.

There are limits between reinvention, experience and cultural appropriation . But they may be very blurry.


Yozakura Cherry Blossom at Night,  Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III ,1848,  Oban triptych.

I maintain that anyone should wear whatever their like. On another hand, garment is also a kind of social expression and the way we may represent ourselves to others.

Of course I don’t think one should imitate all the etiquette exactly, but do it at least with some sober portion of sensibility.

The richness of tradition is so that it transforms through times, yet there is an essence which cannot be lost.

Claude Monet - La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanes Costume), 1876

La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese garment, probably uchikake)

Claude Monet, 1876

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