Denim junihitoe

Browsing other “kimono”-tagged photos on flickr brought up an interesting 12 layer kimono, made up of denim, with leather trimmings (click here for the back view). Although it’s probably just an exhibition piece, I think it’s absolutely fantastic that old national costumes are still being experimented on and brought up to date by modern designers/artists.

As an aside, I thought I’d find out a bit more about junihitoe. The ‘juni’ refers to the Japanese romanji word for twelve, and the ‘hitoe’ refers to unlined kimonos. Such kimono were worn back in the Heian period (794-1185 CE) by noble women. The Sugino Costume Museum’s site has an excellent page that shows each layer sequentially (reached by first opening a pop-up Java window from the first photo: ‘Juni-hitoe’; then clicking on ‘Habillage d’un juni-hitoe’). It appears that the 12 layers aren’t comprised solely of kimonos. The junihitoe on this website has the following layers:

  • Nagabakama, a pair of trousers
  • Kosode, kimono with short sleeves
  • Hitoe, an unlined under-kimono
  • Five Itsutsuginu layers, with a different coloured trim per layer
  • Uchiginu, the top kimono
  • Uwagi, another top kimono
  • Karaginu, a vest
  • And finally, Mo, the train

Gorgeous! But oh-so impractical! And you’d have to have so many different pieces to coordinate with the appropriate season. It’s definitely a ladies-who-lunch thing. There are also photos of the accessories needed for the elaborate hair-dos (kamiagegu), fans, tabi without a split, and rather clumpy looking shoes that they probably shuffled about in when they weren’t sitting pretty…

Another excellent site originates from Kyoto’s Costume Museum. Its pages on the Heian period has a host of photos, accompanied with explanations, of various costumes worn by different members of the court.


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