3rd Lesson: Kimono Types and Ranks

It’s very confusing that there are so many different types of kimono depending on cloth, tailoring, or pattern. But the types referr to the pattern only. These types have nothing to do with seasons, but occasions a kimono can be worn.

Kurotomesode 黒留袖

Can only be worn by married women (kuro 黒, “black”). They are black and have three family crests (kamon 家紋). They have an eba pattern (eba moyō, 絵羽模様) on the bottom part of maemigoro and ushiromigoro.

kurotomesode 2 kurotomesode

Irotomesode 色留袖

Can only be worn by unmarried women. The pattern is the same as kurotomesode, but they are not black (iro 色, “color”). They also have three kamon.

irotomesode 2 irotomesode

Furisode 振袖

Furisode can only be worn by young unmarried women. They have long sode (袖 sleeves) and are the most formal Kimono for unmarried women. They always have a big eba pattern and no kamon. (You want to know more about furisode?)

furisode 2 furisode

Mofuku 喪服

This kimono is onlyt worn for funerals and it is all black and have three kamon inserted. There will be tied a black obi, black obiage, and black obishime. When you wear a mofuku, there are some special rules, I will write about later.


mofuku natsumono
This is a mofuku for summer.



Homongi 訪問着

It is very hard to distinguish between ④ and ⑤, but I will try to explain the difference clearly. Homongi always have an eba pattern. The sketch of the pattern is drawn on the kimono which is swen provisionally. After this is done, all the seams will be taken and the real pattern will be painted over the sketch. That is why this pattern continues prettily over all seams without interruption, after the kimono is re-sewed. This pattern makes a kimono very expensive and gives it a formal rank.

homongi 5  homongihomongo 2

Tsukesage つけさげ

The tsukesage pattern is painted directly on the role of cloth (tanmono 反物). That is why it can be cut by a seam after the kimono is made. It is also a pattern which looks upwards to katayama and sodeyama. The rank of this pattern is lower than eba pattern, but higher than komon and can be worn at formal as well as casual occasions.

tsukesage 2 tsukesage 3 tsukesage

Iromuji 色無地

If a semon (背紋) is inserted and you tie a fukuro obi, iromuji become formal. If not, they are casual. They have no colored pattern, because it is weaved into the cloth.

muji 2 muji

Edo komon 江戸小紋

The same as iromuji: if a semon is inserted and you tie a fukuro obi, they are formal. If not, they are casual. The pattern is made of small dots.

edokomon 2edokomon muster 2edokomonedokomon muster

Komon 小紋

Komon means “small pattern”. This kimono type is casual and full of small or big patterns. Those patterns are never eba. A komon can’t be worn at formal occasions.

komon 2 hitoe aussen natsumono

Every kurotomesode, irotomesode, homongi, etc. is an awase, hitoe, or natsumono. Depending on fabric and tailoring the season a kimono can be worn is limited. (Read more about the kimono seasons.) Depending on the pattern the occasion a kimono can be worn is limited.

Depending on the rank the occasion a kimono can be worn is limited. Never wear a komon or yukata on a wedding. That would be a mistake. But you can rank up a kimono as well as rank down. That’s a quite confusing theme… but don’t give up!

P.S.: If you liked the Kimono examples, you should take a look here Shinei !! 😉


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Read more about kimono, Kumamoto, and me at japandigest.de


6 thoughts on “3rd Lesson: Kimono Types and Ranks”

  1. hi, Billy. thanks for sharing! 😀
    are the others kimono (except number 1-3, as you explained before) can be worn by married & unmarried woman freely? and how about their arm (sode?) length? or, is just only furisode that have long sode among all kimonos?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi yina! Thanks for your question. Yes, all other kimono can be worn by everyone.
      Kimono nowadays have short sode except furisode.
      There are some old kimono, for example komon which have long sode. They were worn by young unmarried women. As you wouldn’t be able to wear them after marriage, these are barely tailored today.


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