Kids Web Japan

Occasions for Wearing Kimono

Shrine Visits and Shichi-Go-San

Japanese people are keenly aware of the four seasons, and the clothes they wear are always in keeping with the season. The Japanese are also very tuned in to the stages of their lives. Special events are held to mark milestones in children's growth, for instance, and people change their kimono to fit both the season and the occasion.

Between 30 and 100 days after a child is born, the parents and grandparents visit a shrine together to report the child's birth. The baby is dressed in a white under-kimono. On top of that kimono, the baby wears a brightly colored yuzen kimono if it is a girl, and a black kimono decorated with the family crest if it is a boy.

Another key event in a kid's life is the Shichi-Go-San ("seven-five-three") festival, which takes place on November 15. On this day, parents take their five-year-old boys and seven-year-old or three-year-old girls to the local shrine to thank the gods for keeping their children healthy and making them grow.

Kids dressed in kimono for the Shichi-Go-San

Coming-of-Age and Wedding Ceremonies

At the age of 20, young people celebrate their passage into adulthood by visiting a shrine on Coming-of-Age Day, the second Monday in January. For this occasion, girls wear furisode (kimono with long flowing sleeves), and boys wear haori (half-coats) and hakama decorated with their family crests.

Furisode are worn only by unmarried women. Once upon a time, young Japanese women declared their love for a man by fluttering the long-flapped sleeves of their furisode.

At a wedding, a bride wears a pure white kimono known as a shiromuku. The color white signifies the beginning of a journey.

A furisode known for its long sleeves (SEKAIBUNKA PUBLISHING INC.)
A shiromuku worn by a bride at her wedding



Once a woman is married, she no longer wears a furisode. Instead, she wears a tomesode, a kimono with shorter flaps on the sleeves. There are black and colored tomesode, which are so named because of their shortened sleeves compared to the furisode. Black tomesode with the wearer's family crest on them are reserved for formal occasions, such as the weddings of one's relatives. Colored tomesode can also be worn on formal occasions. A key distinguishing feature of tomesode (both black and other colors) is that only the fabric on the bottom half of the kimono is decorated with a pattern.

A black tomesode
A colored tomesode


Homongi, Tsukesage and Komon

There are many other kinds of kimono for women. Homongi ("visiting kimono"), which are covered entirely by a pattern, and tsukesage, on which the hemline, shoulders, and sleeves of the kimono are decorated with patterns, can be worn to parties, tea ceremonies, flower arranging, and friends' weddings, depending on the dress code.

For casual wear, there are komon, which feature various colors, designs and fine patterns covering the whole kimono, as well as tsumugi and cotton kimono featuring silk thread woven into the surface.





Representing the Seasons

Whatever the occasion—the first shrine visit of the new year, stopping in to see an older person, or what have you—Japanese people always keep the season in mind when deciding which color or pattern of kimono to wear. Pale colors such as light green are appropriate for spring, while cool colors such as lavender or dark blue are good for summer. Autumn calls for colors that imitate the hues of the turning leaves, and winter is the season for strong colors like black and red.

A cool-colored kimono for summer
A dark-colored kimono for winter


In summer, people wear informal summer kimono known as yukata to fireworks and summer festivals. In the past, people wore yukata at home after getting out of the bath, but now they are mainly a fixture of the summer streetscape, where they are worn by people young and old, male and female alike. Most yukata are made of cotton. Traditionally, they are patterned either navy-on-white or white-on-navy, but in recent years, more colorful designs have emerged.

Although kimono are no longer everyday wear in Japan, people still like to wear them at various times throughout the year. When they do, they use the fabrics, colors, and designs of their kimono to express their love of the four seasons.

Young people wear yukata to summer festivals.