Learn How to Kimono in Japan

“Kimono” literally means “the thing to wear”, but it’s actually not that easy to dress up. In Japan there are several courses where you can learn how to wear a kimono (kitsuke 着付け), but which one is the right one for you?

Casual? Formal? What’s your purpose for kitsuke?

There are plenty of ways to wear a kimono differing from region to region and from sensei to sensei (先生 teacher). You call these various schools ryūha (流派) and all of them have advantages and disadvantages.

For example there are schools for “speed-kitsuke” (スピード着付け). To dress up in a kimono takes 15 to 30 minutes, but in such courses you will learn how to dress it in 6 minutes or less. Other schools are reducing komono (小物). When other schools need 4 to 6 himo (紐) to dress up, such courses use only 2.

Before joining a lesson, ask the sensei about the characteristics of his/her school!

A1
Lesson at Nihon Wasō Gakuen in Kumamoto. The kimono must be worn perfectly in 6 minutes.
A2
The students prepare for the annual National Kitsuke Competition.

How long do you want to learn kitsuke?

To become a professional kimono stylist (kitsuke-shi 着付師) can take decades. When you want to become a stylist, you should choose a school where you can get so-called kyū (級 rank). A state examination has been introduced in 2010 (way too late!) to make a national standard for all of those ryūha with their own kyū.

However, there are also crash courses for i.a. yukata completed in 3 or 4 lessons.

What do I need for a kitsuke lesson?

Of course you need a kimono or yukata as well as all needed komono to wear it. If you don’t own all of it, it can be borrowed or even bought from your sensei.

Kitsuke lesson for free – what’s behind it?

Kitsuke lessons for free are often a trap. Most of them are free for the first 3 lessons and after that they do cheap coach trips combined with sales shows. You won’t even get back home without buying.

Such courses are discredited and decreasing, but – anyway – be careful! Courses with a fee should be definitely teaching and not selling. The cheapest courses start with one coin (500 Yen) per lesson.

B2
Kitsuke lesson in a vintage kimono store in Kumamoto.
B3
This student prepares for the graduation ceremony of her daughter.

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

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