Oct 182010
 

The Japanese kimono can be used as a comfortable, much more fashionable alternative to the bathrobe. Dating back to the fifth century AD, both Japanese men and women have been wearing kimonos since a similar style of dress was important from Han-era China.

In Japan, the kimono was always far more than something comfortable to wear around the house. western-style clothing didn’t make it to Japan until the early 20th century. In 1923, Japan’s emperor issued an edict requiring almost all public officials to change their style of dress from kimonos to western-style uniforms. Until that time, the kimono was one of the basic items of clothing for both women and men.

The east-west interchange of clothing styles goes both ways. Since the early 20th century, westerners have collected kimonos as souvenirs or as elegant, unique ways to dress. Although traditional kimonos remain expensive and elegant in the west, some people like to use the kimono as a loose-fitting housecoat to relax around the home.

Japanese-Americans still keep kimonos on-hand for special occasions. During the traditional Coming of Age Day, for example, a kimono is still a common item, as it is for weddings. A kimono jacket can be found for under $100; truly elegant silk kimonos can exceed $500.