Tag Archives: Kimono

Hanten: The Essential Japanese Jacket You Need to Know

Japan boasts of rich culture and tradition and a big part of Japanese culture is the attire or the various kinds of attire.

You may have most commonly heard of the kimono as a popular Japanese garment but there are actually several different things that make up a traditional Japanese attire.

In fact, there is no singular Japanese attire that is considered the norm. Depend on what part of Japan you are in or what season you are looking at, the traditional attire changes.

The following is a brief guide to the different kinds of attires or pieces of garment you may find in Japan. 

classic japanese hanten

What Is a Hanten?

A hanten is a traditional Japanese jacket that is typically worn during the winters. This is a short coat that is worn on a daily basis and has a warm padding or lining of cotton through the body.

It also has a smart collar and is a marker of style meets tradition. This is typically a lightweight jacket which is why it can be worn even on the slightly cooler days of summer as well.

There are no restrictions with regards to who is permitted to wear the hanten, unlike some of the other Japanese jackets and coats. There are also no restrictions in terms of gender and the hanten can be worn by men and women alike.

Haori vs Happi vs Noragi 

Now, the haori, noragi and happi all look similar to the hanten, but not only are they different from the hanten but they are also different from each other. 

The haori looks very similar to the hanten. It is a short coat that comes till the hip and is also worn over a kimono, like the hanten. Traditionally, however, the haori was a reserve of only the social elite while the hanten was adopted by the common people.

Even though the haori was typically worn by the elite it did not look very extravagant because the unabashed display of wealth was looked down upon in the Edo period.

Any stylizations in the haori, therefore, are very discreet and possibly only in the linings of the garment.

The happi could also be worn by anybody and was not reserved only for the Edo elite. It has a very simple and uncomplicated design and is made of cotton. This is a more casual coat and does not need to be worn over a kimono.

The happi is typically dyed into a single color but emblems and certain motifs provide relief from the monotone. They are still worn during various festivals in Japan by the traditional Japanese laborers, like farmers. 

The noragi is also a casual Japanese workwear and is typically worn by laborers working in the field or engaged in more physical forms of work.

The noragi comes down till the hip or slightly above the thigh. It has a simple, informal design and this too does not need to be worn above a kimono. Interestingly, American singer-songwriter John Mayer is frequently seen in a casual Japanese noragi. 

yukata vs kimono

Yukata vs Kimono

The yukata and kimono are also similar looking but there are some subtle differences between the two.

They are both robes that come till the ankle and have long, almost bell sleeves. But there are also some differences that will be elaborated upon in the following sections.

Can Men Wear a Kimono?

Both the kimono and yukata can be worn by men and women alike. The main difference between them is not the gender of the wearer but in the collar.

The kimono has a wide collar, while the yukata collar is stiffer and is half the width of a kimono’s. The sleeves of a yukata and kimono are also different.

While the length of a kimono sleeve can differ and traditionally, an unmarried woman’s kimono sleeve can even touch the ground (so eligible bachelors can identify the available women), a yukata’s sleeves will never touch the ground.

 Can You Sleep in a Yukata?

If you visit a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn, during your visit to the island, you will be provided with a yukata. This yukata is made of a soft cotton and can be worn as a robe during your stay at the inn.

The robe is used as loungewear, sleepwear and even as bath wear. If you visit the traditional Japanese onsen, or hot spring (typically built within the inn), you will be expected to wear the yukata.

In contrast, a kimono is a more formal attire and you are not supposed to sleep wearing a kimono. Sleeping in a kimono can be compared to sleeping in a tuxedo — it is not practical.

What Do You Wear under the Kimono and Yukata?

There are special underclothes that are worn underneath both a kimono and yukata. But contemporary fashion has seen both these robes paired with the more casual flared jeans as well!

Hakama Japanese

Hakama

So far we have spoken about coats and robes, but a kind of traditional Japanese pants is the hakama. The hakama is part of the attire that samurai wear and is popularly worn by some aikidoka (those who practice akaidoki — a kind of martial art).

There are seven pleats that the hakama has — two in the back and five in the front. Each pleat has a name and significance. Men and women both wear the hakama, however, the rules are different.

Conclusion

The traditional garments and attires have taken a beautiful contemporary turn and you can often see versions of these traditional pieces of clothing emerging in street fashion and in more casual fashion.

Someone who has a close eye for Japanese aesthetic will be able to tell the minute differences between the coats described above. But from the point of view of contemporary fashion, elements of all these can be used to put together a look that also draws from tradition.

It is, however, important to be informed of the historical context in which these garments were worn.

Traditional Japanese Formal Wear Explained

If you do not hold a considerable understanding of the Japanese culture, you may find yourself confused about the traditional attire that the Japanese wear.

In many cases, even people who have visited the country are not able to make the distinction between two of the most commonly worn pieces of clothing in the Japanese culture — the yukata and the kimono.

If you want to learn more about these traditional Japanese garments or want to purchase a set for yourself, it may be helpful to go through this guide that is designed to increase your knowledge about the yukata and the kimono.

kimono vs yukata

What Is the Difference Between a Kimono and Yukata?

In order to understand what is the difference between both these pieces of clothing, it is important to know what each entails. This is discussed below in some detail.

  • Kimono — This is the more formal of the two, usually being made of expensive materials like brocade, silk and others. The origin of this garment goes further back than the yukata. The kimono — where “ki” stands for “to wear” and “mono” means “thing” — has two different layers and two different collars.

The style of kimono that you choose will depend on the time of the year it is, for example, an unlined kimono for the hotter months and lined ones for the cooler periods of time.

For the winter, the kimono is padded for extra warmth. The style of the kimono may differ on the basis of what occasion you’ll be wearing it at or your social status (historically).

  • Yukata — If you are looking for a garment that is more easily accessible and cheaper to purchase, the yukata may be more suitable for you. Usually built using lighter materials like cotton, this garment is categorized as informal, which means that you don’t really need an occasion to whip out a yukata, which roughly translates to bathing cloth and is often referred to as a summer kimono.

As there is no limitation on what a yukata looks like, there is more of a chance to experiment with the kind of patterns, colors and styles that you can use for your yukata.

When Do You Wear a Kimono?

The kimono is made up of four different pieces of cloth that are put together to give a ‘T’ shape. There are many different folds that add a degree of formality to this garment.

The entire look comes together with an obi, which is a belt that secures the intricacy of the outfit. This makes the kimono ideal for formal occasions and ceremonies that need you to step out with your best foot forward.

While many people may not be able to tell the difference between a kimono and a yukata, a look at both these garments will be enough for you to understand why kimonos are more ideal for ceremonial events.

As the kimono is usually made up of multiple high-quality layers — often lined — it is more suitable for the cooler months of the year.

 

When Do You Wear a Yukata?

The yukata is usually much brighter than the kimono, as there is no restriction on what colors and patterns you can incorporate.

This traditional garment is worn for many different festive occasions, for example, parties, public events, festivals and more.

However, you might not want to wear the yukata for more formal occasions that call for a kimono, which has an overall more expensive appeal.

The yukata is more appropriate for the summers, as it is usually much lighter than the kimono.

Made using fabrics like cotton, which are more breathable and ideal for the hot summer, the yukata also works well for the times that you have stepped out of a bath as it is relatively quick drying.

If you are stepping out for a festival in Japan, you may want to look out for a synthetic yukata, which may help in keeping you dry.

shop yukata

Can Men Wear Yukata and Kimono?

The kimono and yukata are not gender specific, which means that they can be worn by both men and women.

While the kimono is more formal and therefore worn for ceremonial occasions by men and women, the yukata wasn’t always as widely worn by men but its convenience and comfort make it a popular option now.

One major difference between the kimono and yukata for men and women is the color palette that people choose.

For example, the kimono worn by women tend to be brighter or with deeper hues, while men opt for more muted tones.

Similarly, when it comes to the yukata, the male versions tend to be of darker colors and not as much variation in colors, while women tend to be more bold with their choices in patterns and colors when it comes to yukata.

There may also be more variations to the kimono and yukata when it is worn by men.

Things to Know

While the kimono is a term that is widely used to describe the traditional Japanese attire, there are many different types of kimono that are available.

Some interesting forms are the semi-formal homongi, the more casual tsukesage, the Kuro-Tomesode that is worn by married women at formal occasions, the Iro-Tomesode that is worn by unmarried women at similar occasions and more.

There are multiple designs available for purchase, which can sometimes baffle you about what works and what does not.

If you are confused about whether the yukata or the kimono is more suitable for your requirements, there are a couple of questions you must ask yourself.

First, what time of the year are you planning to wear it? If it’s going to be quite hot and you want to stay cool, the yukata may be the better option for you as the kimono tends to be heavier and warmer.

Second, what is the occasion that you’ll be wearing the garment for? If it is a ceremonial occasion, a kimono may be more suitable, but the yukata will work better for parties and festivals!