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What Is The Male Kimono Called What Is The Male Kimono Called


What Is The Male Kimono Called

Written by: Charity Langdon

Discover the answer to the general question: what is the male kimono called? Explore the history and significance of this traditional Japanese garment.

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The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that has been worn for centuries. It is known for its elegant and timeless design, characterized by straight-cut lines, wide sleeves, and a wrap-around style. While the kimono is often associated with women’s fashion, there is also a male version that holds its own significance in Japanese culture.

In this article, we will explore the world of the male kimono, from its history to its various types and modern adaptations. We will delve into the cultural significance of this iconic garment, as well as the nuances that differentiate it from its female counterpart.

As we unravel the intricacies of the male kimono, we will discover how it has evolved over time, embracing new styles and adaptations while remaining rooted in tradition. Whether you have a curious fascination with Japanese culture or a desire to learn more about fashion trends from around the world, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the male kimono.

So, let us embark on a journey to explore the rich heritage and exquisite craftsmanship that define the male kimono, uncovering the secrets and stories woven into every stitch.


History of the Kimono

The history of the kimono can be traced back to ancient Japan, where it first emerged as a simple, unisex garment. The word “kimono” itself means “thing to wear” in Japanese, reflecting its fundamental purpose as clothing.

During the Heian period (794-1185), the kimono underwent significant changes in terms of design and style. It became a symbol of status and reflected the social hierarchy of the time. The upper class adorned themselves with vibrant and intricately designed kimonos, while the lower class wore more subdued and plain garments.

One of the distinguishing features of the kimono is its T-shaped silhouette, which remains consistent throughout its history. The straight-cut lines and loose-fitting nature of the garment allowed for freedom of movement and comfort, making it suitable for various activities, from daily chores to formal events.

Over the centuries, the kimono continued to evolve in its design, fabrics, and patterns. It became a canvas for artistic expression, representing cultural values, seasonal changes, and personal taste. Traditional techniques such as dyeing (known as yuzen), embroidery (known as sashiko), and weaving were employed to create intricate and elaborate designs on the fabric.

Interestingly, the male and female kimonos started to differentiate in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). While both genders originally wore similar styles, patterns, and colors, societal norms began influencing the evolution of gender-specific fashion. Men started wearing darker and simpler kimonos with less decorative elements, while women embraced more vibrant and intricate designs.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the wearing of kimonos was further regulated by sumptuary laws, which dictated the types of fabrics, patterns, and colors that different social classes could wear. This period also saw the rise of specialized kimono craftsmen and merchants who played a vital role in the production and distribution of kimonos.

With the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, Japan underwent a wave of modernization and Western influence. Western-style clothing became more prevalent, and the kimono gradually became less common as everyday attire. However, it continued to be worn for formal occasions, festivals, and traditional ceremonies.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the kimono among Japanese youth and fashion enthusiasts worldwide. The appreciation for traditional craftsmanship, coupled with a desire to embrace cultural heritage, has sparked a resurgence in the popularity of the kimono.

Today, the kimono stands not only as a symbol of Japan’s rich history but also as a representation of its timeless elegance and artistic craftsmanship. It holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people and continues to captivate people around the world with its beauty and allure.


Gender Differences in Kimono

While the kimono is a garment that can be worn by both men and women, there are distinct differences between the male and female versions. These differences reflect not only the evolution of fashion but also the cultural and societal norms that shaped Japanese clothing traditions.

One of the key differences is in the overall design and silhouette. The female kimono is typically more elaborate, with vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and decorative accessories such as obi belts. The sleeves of the female kimono are often wider and longer, creating a more graceful and flowing appearance.

In contrast, the male kimono has a simpler and more subdued design. It usually features darker colors, with minimal patterns or embroidery. The sleeves of the male kimono are narrower and shorter, allowing for more freedom of movement, especially during activities that require physical exertion.

Another significant difference lies in the way the kimono is worn and styled. For women, the obi belt is an essential component of the ensemble, adding a decorative and functional element. Women’s obi belts are wide and tied in intricate knots at the back, lending an elegant and feminine touch to the overall look.

Men, on the other hand, typically wear a narrower and simpler obi belt, often tied in a more straightforward knot. The emphasis in male kimono fashion is on clean lines and understated elegance. However, this does not mean that the male kimono lacks individual expression or variety. There are still different styles and variations within the male kimono, showcasing personal taste and cultural affiliations.

Historically, the differentiation between male and female kimonos was rooted in societal roles and expectations. Men were associated with activities that required physical strength and practicality, such as work and warfare, hence the need for simpler and more functional clothing. Women, on the other hand, were associated with grace, beauty, and domestic duties, which influenced the more ornate and elaborate designs of their kimonos.

While gender roles have evolved over time, the distinction between male and female kimonos has remained a significant aspect of Japanese fashion and culture. Today, the male kimono continues to be worn for formal occasions, ceremonies, and cultural events, preserving its unique identity and heritage.

It is worth noting that contemporary fashion trends have also influenced the way kimonos are worn and styled, with a rise in gender-neutral and unisex designs. These modern adaptations blur the lines between traditional male and female kimonos, allowing for more freedom of expression and creativity in the world of kimono fashion.

Ultimately, the gender differences in the kimono reflect the rich history, societal values, and artistic sensibilities of Japan. The male and female versions stand as unique representations of cultural identity, offering a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of Japanese fashion traditions.


Male Kimono in Traditional Japanese Culture

The male kimono holds a significant place in traditional Japanese culture. It not only serves as a practical garment but also carries symbolic and cultural importance, representing masculinity, status, and tradition.

In traditional Japanese society, the male kimono was worn for various formal and ceremonial occasions, such as weddings, tea ceremonies, and religious events. It was a way for men to display their social status and adhere to the expectations of appropriate attire for specific events.

The choice of fabric, color, and patterns in a male kimono often conveyed subtle messages and affiliations. For instance, certain designs and motifs were associated with specific clans, family lineage, or professions. Men would wear a kimono that reflected their heritage or honored their ancestors, reinforcing a sense of identity and pride.

While the design of the male kimono may appear more understated compared to its female counterpart, it still showcased exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail. Traditional techniques such as resist dyeing, hand painting, and intricate stitching were employed to create subtle yet captivating patterns on the fabric.

The male kimono also had specific rules and etiquette associated with its wear. For example, the way the sleeves were folded or the position of the collar would indicate the formality of the occasion. These subtle nuances were not only a matter of personal preference but also a way to adhere to cultural norms and demonstrate an understanding of social etiquettes.

Another important aspect of the male kimono in traditional Japanese culture was its role in the martial arts. Samurai warriors, who were trained in various combat techniques, wore a specialized type of kimono called “kosode.” The kosode was designed to allow unrestricted movement during battle, while still representing the samurai’s status and affiliation.

Even in everyday life, the male kimono served as a practical and comfortable attire. Its loose-fitting design allowed for flexibility and ease of movement, making it suitable for tasks such as farming, fishing, or engaging in physical labor.

While the traditional male kimono has become less common in contemporary Japanese society, its influence and significance can still be felt. It continues to be worn on special occasions, cultural festivals, and by practitioners of traditional arts and crafts.

Furthermore, the legacy of the male kimono can be seen in modern fashion trends. Many designers and fashion enthusiasts draw inspiration from traditional Japanese garments, incorporating elements of the kimono into their designs. This fusion of traditional and contemporary styles pays homage to the rich heritage of the male kimono while embracing the evolving nature of fashion.

Overall, the male kimono in traditional Japanese culture represents more than just a piece of clothing. It serves as a symbol of tradition, masculinity, and social status. Its intricate designs, cultural significance, and historical legacy continue to shape and inspire fashion trends both within Japan and around the world.


Types of Male Kimono

The male kimono comes in various types, each with its own unique characteristics and purposes. These different styles allow for versatility and adaptability depending on the occasion, season, and personal preference.

One of the most common types of male kimono is the “komon.” The komon is characterized by its all-over repeating patterns, which are often small and intricate. This type of kimono is typically worn for casual or semi-formal events, such as social gatherings or outings with friends.

The “hakama” is another notable type of male kimono. It consists of a wide-legged pants-like garment, worn over a kimono shirt. Hakama were historically associated with samurai warriors and retain a sense of formality. Today, they are often seen in traditional ceremonies, martial arts training, and cultural festivals.

For more formal occasions, such as weddings or tea ceremonies, the “montsuki” kimono is a popular choice. The montsuki kimono features a family crest or design on the chest, representing the wearer’s lineage or affiliation. This type of kimono often showcases exquisite craftsmanship, with the crest embroidered or dyed onto the fabric.

During the summer months, men may opt for the “yukata,” a lightweight and informal kimono made from breathable cotton or linen. Yukata are often worn at summer festivals, on hot days, or when relaxing at traditional Japanese hot spring resorts. They typically feature bright and vibrant colors, with bold patterns or motifs.

There are also specialized types of male kimonos, such as the “jinbaori” and the “haori.” The jinbaori is a sleeveless, vest-like kimono that was traditionally worn over armor by samurai during battle. The haori, on the other hand, is a short jacket or coat worn on top of a kimono for added warmth or as a fashion statement. The haori often features decorative motifs, embroidery, or unique patterns.

It is worth mentioning that the male kimono can also vary in terms of formality and seasonality. There are specific kimono styles for winter, which are made from heavier fabrics such as silk or wool, providing warmth during the colder months. Additionally, the formality of a male kimono can be indicated by the choice of fabric, design, and accessories worn with it.

Overall, the types of male kimono offer a wide range of options for different occasions, preferences, and seasons. Each style carries its own cultural and aesthetic significance, allowing men to express their personal taste and embrace the traditional heritage of the kimono. Whether it’s a casual outing, a formal event, or a cultural festival, there is a male kimono style to suit every occasion.


Obi for Male Kimono

The obi is an essential accessory that completes the overall look of a kimono, both for men and women. While the obi for male kimono is usually narrower and simpler compared to the female obi, it still holds significance in terms of functionality and style.

The primary purpose of the obi is to secure and tighten the kimono around the body. For men, the obi is typically narrower and less decorative than the wide and ornate obi worn by women. It is usually tied in a simple knot around the waist, providing a secure wrap and allowing for freedom of movement.

One common type of obi for male kimono is the “kaku obi.” The kaku obi is a stiff and narrow belt made from a thick fabric, often in a complementary or contrasting color to the kimono. It is worn for formal occasions and ceremonies, adding a touch of elegance and structure to the overall ensemble.

Another type of obi commonly worn by men is the “himo.” The himo is a thin, long cord that is used to tie the kimono together. It is usually made from silk or a similar material and comes in various colors and patterns. Himo can be tied in different ways depending on the formality of the occasion and personal preference.

In addition to its functional purpose, the obi for male kimono also contributes to the overall aesthetic of the attire. While it may be more subdued compared to the female obi, it still adds a touch of elegance and complements the design and color of the kimono.

Historically, the obi for male kimono was often plain and dark in color, reflecting the practical and understated nature of men’s fashion. However, with the evolution of kimono fashion and modern adaptations, there are now variations in patterns, fabrics, and styles for male obi as well.

In recent years, there has been an emergence of contemporary designs and materials for the obi. Some men opt for obi with subtle patterns, textures, or even embroidered motifs to add a personalized touch to their kimono ensemble. This modern twist reflects the changing fashion trends and the desire for self-expression.

It is important to note that the tying of the obi requires skill and practice. The intricate knots and folds are not only aesthetically pleasing but also hold cultural and symbolic meanings. Properly tying the obi demonstrates an understanding of Japanese traditions and adds refinement to the overall appearance.

Whether it’s a formal event or a casual gathering, the obi for male kimono plays a key role in completing the attire and showcasing a sense of style and cultural appreciation. From the simple kaku obi to the versatile himo, the obi contributes to the overall aura of the kimono and elevates the wearer’s presence.


Modern Adaptations of Male Kimono

While the traditional male kimono continues to hold its cultural significance, there has been a growing trend of modern adaptations and innovative approaches to male kimono fashion. These contemporary styles and designs breathe new life into this iconic garment, appealing to a wider audience and reflecting changing fashion sensibilities.

One notable modern adaptation is the fusion of traditional and Western elements in male kimono fashion. Designers have started incorporating Western-style cuts, fabrics, and patterns into the kimono, creating a unique blend of East and West. This infusion adds a fresh and contemporary touch to the classic kimono, making it more accessible and appealing to younger generations.

At the same time, there has been a rise in gender-neutral and unisex kimono designs. These styles blur the lines between traditional male and female kimonos, encouraging self-expression and challenging conventional gender norms. By embracing inclusive designs, the kimono becomes a garment that anyone can wear, regardless of gender.

Additionally, the use of unconventional fabrics and vibrant colors has become more prevalent in modern male kimono fashion. While traditional kimono fabrics usually include silk and cotton, contemporary designers experiment with a wider range of materials such as linen, wool, and even synthetic fabrics. This allows for more versatility and comfort, making the kimono suitable for a variety of occasions and seasons.

The patterns and motifs used in modern male kimono designs have also seen a shift. While traditional patterns such as florals, waves, and geometric shapes still have their place, modern adaptations may incorporate bolder, abstract patterns or even digital prints. This infusion of contemporary patterns adds a modern and artistic appeal to the kimono, attracting those with a more eclectic and avant-garde fashion taste.

Another trend in modern male kimono fashion is the incorporation of Western-style accessories and layering techniques. This can include wearing a kimono over a button-down shirt or pairing it with trousers instead of the traditional hakama. By mixing elements of Western and Eastern fashion, individuals have the freedom to create unique and personalized looks that reflect their own style and cultural influences.

Furthermore, the advent of online shopping and e-commerce platforms has made it easier for individuals to access and explore a wide variety of male kimono styles. From custom-made designs to vintage kimono finds, people can now curate their own kimono collections and experiment with different looks, catering to their individual tastes and preferences.

Ultimately, the modern adaptations of male kimono reflect the evolving nature of fashion trends and the desire to fuse tradition with contemporary sensibilities. These adaptations help rejuvenate the kimono’s appeal and make it more accessible to a diverse range of individuals who wish to embrace and celebrate Japanese culture in a modern and unique way.



The male kimono is a fascinating and integral part of Japanese culture, embodying tradition, craftsmanship, and cultural identity. Throughout its history, the male kimono has evolved, adapting to changing times while maintaining its distinct characteristics and significance.

We’ve explored the history of the kimono, its gender differences, and its role in traditional Japanese culture. From the Heian period to the present day, the kimono has left its mark as a symbol of elegance and artistry. The male kimono, with its simpler designs and understated beauty, represents masculinity, social status, and tradition.

With various types of male kimono available, from the casual komon to the formal montsuki, there is a style for every occasion and personal preference. The obi, though narrower and less decorative than its female counterpart, is still an important accessory that completes the kimono ensemble, providing functionality and adding to the overall aesthetic appeal.

In recent years, modern adaptations of the male kimono have emerged, blending traditional elements with contemporary fashion trends. The infusion of Western influences, the rise of gender-neutral designs, and the use of unconventional fabrics and patterns have brought a fresh perspective to this timeless garment.

Through these adaptations, the male kimono has become more accessible to a wider audience, appealing to people who wish to embrace Japanese culture in a modern and unique way. The fusion of tradition and innovation allows for personal expression and creativity, making the kimono a versatile and timeless fashion choice.

As we conclude our exploration of the male kimono, it is clear that this iconic garment continues to captivate people around the world. Whether donned for special occasions or incorporated into everyday fashion, the male kimono stands as a symbol of Japan’s rich heritage, revered for its exquisite craftsmanship, cultural significance, and enduring allure.

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