Past Hokudai/Cast Entries

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Wafuku: Traditional Japanese Clothes

Wafuku (和服) are old-style Japanese clothes. ‘Wa’ means ‘Japan’ and ‘fuku’ means ‘clothes.’ 

Japanese people first wore what are now called wafuku from the Asuka and Nara era (592 - 710, 710 - 784, respectively). There were no western clothes, so Japanese people wore wafuku. Wafuku became elegant during the Heian era (794~1192). In the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), some people wore western clothes. While others continued to wear wafuku today, most people always wear western clothes.

Woman wear wafuku that fit their personality. There are many kinds of yukata. Jinbei is casual men’s wear. There are many jobs that require wafuku in Japan. For example, Buddhist priests, people who do traditional performing arts such as tea ceremony or kabuki, and people who work in ryokan (Japanese-style hotels).There are some athletes such as judo and kendo players who also wear wafuku.  In Kyoto, there are many apprentice geisha (maiko) who wear beautiful kimono. It is part of Japan’s culture. 

Wearing wafuku has become more fashionable, but I think we will stop using kimono in the future. Recently the number of people wearing wafuku has decreased. For the Festival for Children (Shichi-Go-San), Coming of Age Day and weddings people wear kimono. People also wear yukata in the summer, especially to a local festival. 

Kinds of Wafuku
1. Kimono (着物)
Kimono is one of the Japanese wafuku. Mainly, people wear kimono for festivals such as Coming of Age Day (for 20-year-olds), weddings, and tea ceremony performances. Kimonos come in many kinds of patterns and colors. One kind of kimono is called kaga-yuzen which is made exclusively in Kanazawa.

2. Yukata (ゆかた)
People wear yukata in the summer. Recently, many young people wear it. Yukata also come in many kinds of patterns and colors. They are very cheap; much cheaper than kimono. Japanese-style hotels and hot springs areas provide their customers with yukata with the hotel's name on it.

3. Jinbei (ジンベイ)
People wear jinbei in the summer, too, but, mainly jinbei is worn by men. Jinbei consists of short pants and a simple cotton top. It is very cool to wear in the hot Japanese summer.

4. Keiko-gi (稽古着)
There are several kinds of gi, which means "clothes" (it is the same kanji (着) as in 'kimono.') There are kendo-gi for kendo practitioners, judo-gi for judo practitioners, and aikido-gi for practitioners of aikido. And, of course, karate-gi for people who practice karate.
Hokudai/Cast: Your fun-service podcast for learning Japanese, English, and Chinese.

About Hokudai/Cast and 北陸大学

My Photo
Mirai Sozo is the School of Future Learning at Hokuriku University. The primary focus is on language (English and Chinese) and management (hospital administration, sports, and business).
View my complete profile