3rd Lesson: Kimono Types and Ranks

Except yukata the kimono types I explained the last time have nothing to do with rank, but the types today are. It is very confusing that there are so many different types of kimono depending on cloth, tailoring, or pattern. But the types I will explain today are always an awase, hitoe, or natsumono. Depending on cloth and tailoring, the season they can be worn is limited. Let’s start with the most formal ones and become casual in the end.

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 lower 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

Can only be worn by young unmarried women. They have long sode 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 is just 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 mofuku

(The mofuku on the left side is natsumono.)

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 is drawn on the Kimono which is made provisionally. After this is done, all the seams are undone 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 4 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 may 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 scenarios.

tsukesage 2 tsukesage 3 tsukesagetsukesage 6

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 scenarios.

komon 2 komonhitoe aussen natsumono

Don’t be confused! As I told before: every kurotomesode, irotomesode, homongi, etc. is an awase, hitoe, or natsumono. Depending on cloth and tailoring the season they can be worn is limited. Thus it makes no sense to buy an expensive natsumono kurotomesode, because you may only wear it for two months. That is why the most formal Kimono are awase. The only formal Kimono, you should buy awase and natsumono is the mofuku.

Depending on the rank the scenario 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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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Yina Huang says:

    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. biriinyan says:

      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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