Kimonos Are Not Only For Japanese Purists

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

Mr Selfridge.
I was watching that television show (ITV, UK) and noticed a lovely furisode kimono in the window display. The picture is poor quality, as it is a screenshot from the ITV iPlayer and they reduce quality for streaming but it does let you see the kimono. The show stars Jeremy Piven as Mr Selfridge, the man who opened the store Selfridges that still exists in London. He is good in it, just as he was very good in his role in Entourage.



Are kimonos only for the purists?
I read a comment on Reddit the other day, in which a Japanese woman said she felt that only Japanese people should wear kimonos and only those who applied all the strict Japanese rules about how they are worn, with obi etc., and wearing the correct kimono for the occasion and person’s age. She felt that no one other than a purist/traditionalist should be allowed to wear them, particularly those wearing them as house robes; she even said it was offensive (her word) to see the pictures of Rita Ora wearing one of my kimonos or to see anyone wearing one as a robe like that. The woman who said this is the only  person I have come across to say this, all other people I have spoken with or read comments by, including many Japanese people, do not think that way at all, in fact, quite the contrary. Needless to say I did not agree with her. To me, what she said is exactly the same idea as saying that women should not wear trousers because they were originally designed only for men to wear.
I felt she should also bear in mind that haori were originally meant to be worn only  by men but, many years ago, geisha broke that rule and started wearing these men’s jackets, after which, they became popular among other women and only then did haori start to be made specifically for women, so you now get many women wearing them. If that rule had not been broken, the women of Japan would not have haori to wear over their kimonos. If that rule could be broken in Japan, there is no reason not to break other kimono wearing traditions, especially when they are worn in The West, where kimonos are not worn as day to day, outdoor clothing and haoris not worn over them.
Since kimonos are rarely worn the same way in The West as they are in Japan, with obi or as outdoor clothes, it seems very pedantic to think that they should not therefore be worn there at all or that the Japanese traditional rules, dictating the styles and patterns for certain ages or occasions, should be adhered to by absolutely everyone who chooses to own and wear one either in or out of in Japan.
As you can see in the two pictures below, this Japanese man, in Japan, wears a kimonos with braces on top, attached to the obi, giving the traditional kimono wearing a slightly more contemporary look (photos from Akira Times). If Japanese people like him may break the rules and do that, why may others not just wear a beautiful kimono as a house robe, regardless of tradition? Why restrict them to only those who wear them the traditional way, with obi, and applying the strict age, occasion and colour rules?

The woman also thought that, if worn as a robe, it was appalling that it meant that the kimono would be worn frequently and the silk would touch the skin and therefore need cleaned more frequently than one that was rarely worn and only worn the traditional way on top of a naga-juban, so not touching the skin. She seemed to insist that they only be cleaned using the araihari method, which is a traditional one of completely dismantling the garment, cleaning the individual pieces, then remaking it, traditional method that resulted in rarely cleaning them, whereas I believe that careful dry cleaning is an acceptable alternative for a kimono that is used frequently as a robe.
Most vintage kimonos would become nothing more than moth food or be cut up and destroyed or would just sit in a box and never see the light of day and be appreciated if many were not re-purposed as robes or worn in some other non traditional way. Their being worn has to be a good thing, regardless of how they are worn, rather than all of them being hidden away, unappreciated for the majority of the time simply so they don’t get worn out or dirty.

Without a doubt, that woman would not approve of haori being worn in The West over yofuku (clothing that is not traditionally Japanese), such as you can see in the picture below. What a loss that would be. The haori is such a gem when worn with western world clothing.


Even in Japan nowadays, young people are sometimes seen to be wearing kimonos in deliberately non-traditional ways. The traditional rules are fine for kimono purists but I do not believe it is fine to say that they may only be worn by the purists and in the ways the purists dictate. I am very glad the old kimono rules are still maintained in Japan by some, whom I admire for doing it and keeping those traditions alive, but that should not be allowed to stop their use by those who choose to not follow those rules. I really do admire any person who abides by all the strict kimono wearing rules in Japan but do not feel they should be reserved only for them. Kimonos are clothing, not religion, not part of only some private club, so should be worn and enjoyed whatever way one chooses, as long as they are worn and loved and their beauty seen and enjoyed.

No doubt she would be utterly horrified to see my sister wearing a girl’s kimono open over western clothes, as a pretty evening coat, or, as you can see below, my daughter wearing this child’s antique kimono as a dress.


There is room for both purists and non-purists to wear wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing). It does not matter how one chooses to enjoy wearing it, it only matters that one does choose to do it and that their beauty and the work of the skilled Japanese artisans can be seen and appreciated.



Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, all so they can profit. What we have now will slow to a crawl, sites taking forever to load unless we pay a premium to get extra speed. This is what cable companies are pushing the government to give them.

FIGHT THEM now or regret it forever. It is up to US. Click here to take action.



You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.



One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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Spotty Dotty, Trompe-L’œil & Kimono Cleaning

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog


Cotton Kimonos.
Here are two of my cotton kimonos. The first is one with a slightly op-art spotty pattern that I love, with kanzemizu (swirling water) in the large, grey spots, and the second kimono is an odori yukata, a cotton kimono that would be worn at an odori matsuri (dance festival), with a motif of traditional Japanese 3 stringed instruments called shamisen and some bachi, which are the huge plectrums used to play shamisen.

The spotty cotton kimono.





The shamisen motif cotton kimono.





Hand Washable Kimono.
The next kimono is made of synthetic textile and is hand washable. It is unlined and probably made for dance, as traditional Japanese dancers often wear synthetic kimonos because they can be washed and unlined ones to keep them cooler as they dance.  It is a nice bright green and a very painterly design. Green is a colour that relatively few kimonos come in; you do get green ones but there seem to be fewer of those than most other colours.




I have just added these three kimonos and several more to my website.


More haori.
Here are three haori that I added to my wafuku.co.uk website this week.

The first has a nice trompe-l’œil print that looks like red lace on a light blue ground. It is silk but, surprisingly, is of a weave that feels rather like cotton. Silk, of course, can be woven into many textures and feels. This haori also has cute little Daruma on the silk upper lining.






The next haori has houndstooth check (sometimes called dogtooth) made up of stylised cranes. 




The third haori has  a kanzemizu (swirling water) design on a bokashi (shaded) background.




Cleaning kimonos, haoris and obis.
The traditional method of cleaning a kimono is called Araihari. It involves unpicking all the stitches and taking the kimono apart entirely. Each piece of kimono fabric is then stretched out and cleaned, then slightly starched and allowed to dry. Once dry, the kimono has to be sewn back together again. Obviously this is a very time consuming and very, very expensive cleaning method but if your kimono or haori has cost thousands of pounds, as silk ones tend to, or even tens of thousands of pounds, which is not unusual, it is a wise and worthwhile investment. Araihari is still done but many people nowadays have their precious kimonos cleaned instead by specialist dry cleaners.

To have a kimono cleaned by arhairi, if one does not want to do it oneself, one uses a shikkai. Shikkai is a place where they do a variety of kimono aftercare things, such as araihari (dismantling and washing), maruarai (washing a kimono just as it is, not first disassembles), shiminuki (stain removal) and kakehagi (invisible mending), sumpo naoshi (alterations), somekae (re-dyeing) and mon-ire (applying a crest or family crest -kamon).

After araihari cleaning, as it dries, the kimono fabric has to be stretched to keep its shape and to smooth it. You can see, in the pictures below, how flexible rods called Shinshibari (a type of bamboo needle)  are used to do this. The fabric is held by wooden clamps at each end. Araihari requires a lot of space too. I was given the pictures by a friend, with no details of whom to attribute them to, so, if you know, please let me know.

stretching flat




Sometimes the textile is stretched out on very long boards (note, from the front hem all the way up and over the shoulder, then back down to the back hem is one very long piece of fabric, as kimonos have no shoulder seams).




Here are the required tools.

ar tools





Here is a large art installation, called Obi, by Yanda, which is a huge screen, with its design based on an obi being cleaned using araihari, for the exhibition of AODJ, which sends Japanese creativity worldwide. You can see the giant shinshibari (stretching rods) clearly.




You can also see shinshibari (stretching rods) used here to keep a length of silk taut while a textile artist paints a design on it for a yuzen kimono.

yuzen stretch


Here is a woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849), called Two Beauties of Spring. The women are cleaning a kimono using the araihari method. Katsushika Hokusai’s best known work, which you will have seen, is  The Great Wave off Kanagawa.




You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.




Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me.

I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

More Japanese Haori Jackets & How To Tie A Haori Himo

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog


Japanese haori are long jackets, with deep, kimono style sleeves, designed to be worn on top of a kimono, though they are fabulous when worn over western world style clothes, like jeans or dresses. Women’s haori can be particularly beautiful, often with fabulous, Japanese textile art on them. They are not worn with an obi, though they do look great when cinched in with a belt or sash. They are usually fastened very loosely with a pair of ties called a himo, which is normally bought separately from the haori. Men’s himo are usually hooked onto the haori and unhooked to  open it, rather than untied, though one can just untie the himo instead. Women’s himo are usually looped onto the haori and tied each time it is worn. Below you can see some examples of haori and, above those, instructions showing how to tie women’s himo, then how to tie men’s himo, as each gender ties theirs differently.

How to tie a woman’s haori himo



How to tie a man’s haori himo

tying a man's himo


Now some examples of women’s and men’s haori from my www.wafuku.co.uk website, where you can also see hundreds more


1920s red haori

1920s red haori


Geometric  design haori, worn with a sash, with western world clothes


Lacy print haori

Lacy print haori


fabulous bird haori

Fabulous bird design haori


All hand done shibori (intricate tie dye) haori


1920s purple haori

1920s purple haori


Pink butterflies galore haori

Butterflies galore haori


Pink with mums haori

Pink haori with chrysanthemums


haoris with western world clothing

Examples of haori worn with western world clothing

Men’s haori

Men’s haori differ from women’s; the sleeves are attached to the body either all the way down the inner edge or all but an inch or so down. This is to match their kimonos. The sleeves of men’s kimonos are the same, whereas women’s kimono and haori sleeves swing loose and unattached at the body edge for a lot of their depth, this is because women wear very deep obis, so the sleeves have to be able to hang over them, whereas men wear much narrower obis and wear them lower down, so their sleeves do not get in the way and can be attached to the body of their garments all the way down.

Another difference with men’s kimonos and haoris is that they tend to be very subdued in pattern and colour. A long, long time back, the nobles and samurai got somewhat annoyed that so many rich merchants of lower class were able to afford and wear very ornate, ostentatious clothing, showing up the poorer of the samurai and upper classes and not allowing the richer ones to stand out, so a law was passed banning men who were neither samurai nor noblemen from wearing ornate clothing. This led the lower classes to adopt what was known as hidden beauty, putting fabulous textile designs on the linings of their haoris and on their naga-juban underwear kimonos. In time this made them feel superior and more classy, as their beautiful textiles were less flaunted but still there. You can see examples of that hidden beauty on the linings of some of the men’s haori below

3 geisha men's haori

3 geisha lining, men’s haori


Galloping horse men's haori

Galloping horse lining, men’s haori


Airy ro silk men's summer haori, with bamboo mon (crests)

Airy ro silk men’s summer haori, with bamboo mon (crests)


Shunga (traditional Japanese erotic art) lining men's haori

Shunga (traditional Japanese erotic art) lining, men’s haori


Japanese woman lining

Japanese woman lining, men’s haori


Beautiful scenes lining, men's haori

Beautiful scenes lining, men’s haori


Simi-e (ink and wash) lining, men's haori

Simi-e (ink and wash art) lining, men’s haori


Woman with scroll lining, men's haori

Woman with scroll lining, men’s haori


Another shunga (traditional Japanese erotic art) lining, men's haori

Another shunga (traditional Japanese erotic art) lining, men’s haori


Donsu lining men's haori

 Fabulous scenery, on donsu lining, men’s haori.

Donsu linings have the design woven into the silk and haori with them are known as donpa haori


Where Did The Time Go?

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Another Christmas approaches.

I don’t know where the year went; suddenly the end of it is upon us. The past few weeks have been rather hectic. After years of feezing my rear off in my little cottage each winter, I had a new and more efficient boiler put in three weeks ago, when my old one died, and had three big windows double glazed to try to keep  some of the heat in. Both jobs caused much upheavel so my house has been a complete mess, with stuff stacked all over the place to allow the workmen to lift floorboards, rip out windows etc. and the house ended up with a thick layer of dust covering everything inside. Having failed to expect this, I hadn’t covered much, so everything has needed washed and I’m far from finished that task.

I have also, thankfully, been very busy with Christmas orders. It was ‘fun’ getting through the snow to the Post Office with heaps of packages, some of which sat in the Post Office for days as this little town was snow bound.

I’ve also been helping my daughter and her fiancé to lag under the floorboards of their new flat in Glasgow and will be helping with that again this weekend, weather permitting. Talking of which, I really hope the snow doesn’t block the roads this coming week, so my daughter can be here for Christmas.

Above, you can see a photo I took of a lovely uchikake that my daughter has hung in her bedroom. It’s an odd one, a child’s uchikake. An uchikake is a wedding kimono, worn by a bride, rather like a trailing coat, open over a kimono, so it is somewhat strange to have a child’s one. I haven’t been able to find out why such a thing exists. It would fit a girl of about 7-10 uears old but girls of that age do not marry in Japan and it is not an antique or anything, so not from a time when children might marry. Someone suggestied it might be for a play or something like that but it is a very high quality garment and must have cost a huge amount originally. I can’t make sense of it but it is a beautiful thing and much easier to display than an adult’s uchikake, being much smaller. Below, you can see the faric close up. The entire backgound of the fabric has gold woven through it, so, when the light hits it a certain way, the entire kimono shines gold. The bouquets of flowers and the trailing cords are embroidered.

The picture below shows it closed, as it hangs on my daughter’s bedroom wall, above the bed, though the photo isn’t very good quality and does not do it justice at all.


This is Vicky Barton, telling me that she loved the kimono she got from me. She sent me the photo you see below, of her wearing it. Vicky kindly said I may add the photo to my blog, so you can see her below in a very Japanese style garden, holding a very menacing Japanese katana (sword). The kimono Vicky is weraing has lucky mallets and lines of kanji (Japanese text) all over it.


This summer there were some Japanese people visiting my mother. In the next photo, taken that evening, we are holding an embroidered obi. I am very petite, just under 5′ 2″, although my tabi boots do have 2 inch heels, but you can see how petite the Japanese lady is; it’s quite a novelty to me to stand beside an adult who is smaller than I am. The kimono she is wearing is a cotton yukata kimono. Yukata kimonos are casual kimonos, worn in summer, particularly as robes at home and at summer festivals; any time in summer when one wants to dress casually. The obi worn with a yukata is called a hanhaba obi and is narrower than the more formal obis and much easier to tie. When wearing geta or zori shoes with a yukata, one wears them with bare feet, not with tabi socks. With more formal kimonos, one would always wear tabi.


A tomesode kimono, with fishing village scene.

A girls’ red kimono, for Shichigosan celebrations. (Update – this is the one they chose for the article)

A ko-furisode kimono, with sakura fubuki (shower of cherry blossoms; as they fall from the tree), with gold lacquer detailing

A black silk haori, with a striking, red itogiku (spider chrysanthemum, also called rangiku).

A black, silk haori, with stunning, metallic urushi (lacquer coated silk thread) mountains and mist.


I wish you all a happy Yuletide.

Haori Photo Shoot – The Versatile Kimono Jacket

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog


Haoris in the sunshine – A photo shoot with fabulous, Japanese haori kimono jackets

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Scotland, so I made the most of it and had a photo session to get pictures of a few of my Japanese haori kimono jackets. Astrella modelled them all for me, sweltering in the heat without a word of complaint. We took 331 photos and I have selected 58 for you to feast your eyes on here.  The pictures may help you gauge the general length of them, as haori are longer than many people realise from pictures of them just on a hanger. Astrella is five foot one inch tall (roughly 155cm) and a UK size 10 and about 125 cm from wrist to wrist.

The first haori shown below is covered in large, pink and white ume (plum bossom) and shows how good haori can look when worn with a belt, which is something the Japanese don’t do. They wear them unbelted on top of a kimono and obi. You may notice that haori (and kimono) sleeve seams lie down the arms a bit, not up at the edge of the shoulders. The traditional way of fastening a haori, if one chooses to fasten it at all,  is with a single tie, just inside the fronts, called a himo, which holds the fronts edge to edge, not overlapped. As you can see, though, from photos on this page, haori do also look extremely good with a a belt added. The first one below is being worn with a wide elastic belt.

This next one has magnificent textile art of bright flowers on black, shown modelled with a narrow leather belt as well as without a belt. The large white stitching at the edge of the sleeves is called shitsuke and is often put in, by the Japanese, just to keep garment seams neat during storage. It is simply pulled out before wearing but, as this haori was just being modelled, I left it in.

All but one of the haoris in these photographs is pure silk, inside and out, and all are entirely hand tailored, with the seam edges completely hidden in the lined ones, so those can actually be worn inside out too. Some have hand applied textile art. The quality of the fabric and workmanship is absolutely exquisite.

The following photograph shows a haori in a pretty pink, with a design of magenta leaves.

Now a touch of 1950s pattern. Shown, in one photo, inside out. The bottom half is usually lined in the same silk used on the outside, with a lighter weight silk on the top half and the sleeves. This haori’s upper lining has a lovely design of colourful parasols on it.

Pink leafy repeat pattern.

Graduated pampas leaf pattern on russet. The leaves become more dense towards the bottom.

Bingata style print of pretty flowers.

The one below has autumn maple leaves, shown with and without a belt and shown inside out, with the beautiful lining on show. Haori are usually so exquisitely made, with hidden seams and hand tailoring, that you can wear or display the lined ones inside out. The lower half is lined with the same silk as the outside and the upper half and sleeves are lined with a lighter silk in a different design. This one has lovely Japanese parasols on the upper lining.

In the next photo you can see how beautifully they are made, with the edges of the seams completely hidden inside and out; not a line of stitches in sight in the lined ones.

On the next haori you see a wonderful design of stylised kiku (chrysanthemums) swirling over the silk.

Now black, with striking, champagne gold, metallic urushi (lacquer covered silk thread) woven to create a landscape design.

An iro muji (self coloured), scarlet haori, with flowers in the damask weave of the silk. I do wish I’d ironed it before the photos, though. They usually aren’t creased when unfolded, as there is a special way of folding haoris and kimonos to ensure they very rarely require ironing when unfolded for use.

Swirls of dragon fire on black silk, with subtle touches of gold detailing that are lovely when up close. A 1930s haori, so slightly longer than most of my more recent ones, with slightly deeper sleeves too.

Magnificent birds and flowers.

Big, pink butterflies on black.

Vermillion flowers and leaves on black.

Now for two examples of kuro muji (plain black) haoris, with patterns in the weave that the photos haven’t picked up. Each has one white mon (crest) at the centre of the back at shoulder level.

This second plain black one, below, is an antique haori, which are often longer than more recent ones. This one is 102cm long.  I am keeping it for myself.

Below is another metallic urushi landscape design haori, this one with glinting, distant mountains and a formal mon (crest) at the centre of the shoulders, making it a hitotsu mon (one mon) haori

An unusual one next. It’s a large sized, child’s michiyuki jacket but big enough for an adult to wear. It would fit a child because children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched in the shoulders, narrowing the width. Children’s ones have a collar and tassels, whereas adult michiyuki usually don’t have either of those and would also be longer than this one. The michiyuki you see in the next two photos is made of shibori patterned silk, with little red dots all over and large ume (plum blossom). Shibori is an intricate tie dye process, usually painstakingly, entirely hand done, making it a frighteningly expensive fabric that is highly revered by the Japanese, so this garment would have been for a child from a family with a great deal of money.

In Japan, haori jackets are not worn with the fronts overlapping and not worn with a belt but michiyuki jackets are worn overlapped at the front and they are usually fastened with press studs, which in itself is unusual, as almost all traditional Japanese garments are fastened only by tying; using using various sashes, cords, obis etc.

Finally, black silk, with painterly, red branches and little ume (plum blossom), shown with and without a smile. This is a haori that the model has kept for herself, to wear with her red, Terry De Havilland shoes