As much as Japan is a popular country for its pioneering in technological advancements, it is also a country that greatly values its heritage and tradition. In fact, a lot of Japan’s annual festivals, celebrations and present-day practices can be attributed to customs from centuries ago, which are, these days, updated thanks to recent technologies. People from all over the world schedule their visits to Japan to coincide with traditional special occasions such as festivals or just in order to experience some of the nation’s unique treats and changing seasons.
Among the traditional customs and practices that have remained until this day is typical clothing. Even more than making a fashion statement, traditional costumes have become a symbol of Japan’s rich culture – a representation of Japan’s success and deep respect to their past and religion. Here are five popular items of clothing that have been around in Japan for a long time but are still worn on special occasions today and are widely available in clothing shops for anyone looking for souvenirs.
Who would not recognize the solid flair of artistry in this traditional clothing? Kimono and yukata are often used interchangeably, however, there are some differences. To make a simple comparison, kimono use thicker and more high-quality cloth than a yukata, which was meant for a more comfortable, daily usage during the early Japan times. The former is also often characterized with more elaborate design detail utilizing additional accessories compared to the latter which goes for the simple and practical.
It was a common sight in Japan’s older times to see people in kimono and yukata and is something that has continually been worn by women to celebrate events like summer festivals and religious gatherings.
Weddings are seen as a sacred event in Japan, like many other countries around the world. Special events in Japan come with their own set of special clothing. Uchikake is used as a coat to go over bridal kimonos and is often a vivid red color finished off with intricate prints of cranes.
In Japanese mythology, cranes are creatures that are believed to live for a thousand years which is considered as a token of good luck for couples. At present, more brides choose the white Uchikake rather than the red.
Fundoshi is traditionally an undergarment for men but was commonly worn as shorts by rickshaw drivers and laborers in ancient Japan. At present, we see men wearing this clothing during festivals especially during activities that test their endurance and require their strength.
These days, wearing a fitted hair ornament to complement one’s clothing is a common sight and the same goes for ancient Japanese fashion. Kanzashi is widely popular for its creative variety that often changes in style depending on the season.
This cloth hair ornament used to be fitted in place with sharpened pins in the past which made people believe that they also served as self-defense weapons for women during Japan’s warring era.
This is a robe-like coat made from cotton and is often created in brown and indigo. Happi was originally the clothing of house servants, which explains why its initial designs were accompanied by family crests. Wearing it is an immediate identifying factor of the household one belongs. Over the years, organizations and shops started to use happi and replaced family crests with their group’s symbol.
While the designs and styles of clothing and accessories may alter and progress over time, it will always remain an indicative representation of practices and tradition that took place in the era they came from. Japan is a country where heritage is never forgotten. It is celebrated, remembered and promoted. Go ahead and experience them by trying on some traditional clothing while you’re in Japan.