How Kimono Designs Change with the Seasons

November 24, 2019

‘by Satoko Kawasaki and Juna Kataoka’


Many foreign tourists are sightseeing in Kyoto every day. We often see foreign tourists who wear kimono. Kimono is the traditional clothing of Japan. Therefore, many foreign tourists who visit Kyoto experience renting and wearing a kimono. Because they can experience Japanese traditional culture and photograph themselves. If you rent kimono in Kyoto, you can also take a service of kimono dressing and hair set. When tourists finish dressing up and fixing their hair and makeup, they walk around in Japan old town atmosphere.  Kimono is very popular with foreign tourists. Because the pattern is very beautiful, a bright color and a rarity. Japanese girls and couples often rent a kimono in Kyoto. They take a lot of photos and post pictures on social media. When a foreigner sees this, they can get information about renting a Kimono. However, we often see that they make a mistake how to wear Kimono of each season. Most of them wear Yukata all the year around. Kimono is the most important for the season. Fashions are separated into three seasons. We want to introduce how to wear Kimono correctly for each season.

AWASE 「袷」(October to May)

Do you know Awase(袷)? It is a type of Kimono. It can be worn for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, if you want to buy Kimono, I recommend Awase. In general, people can wear it from October to May.
There are many kinds of materials from silk and polyester. It has a lining. It is warm because it’s made of several layers of fabric. Awase can be worn at a wedding hall, an entrance ceremony or a dinner party. Also, Hachikake (八掛) is a very important item to wear kimono fashionably. The hemline at the bottom of a kimono called Hachikake. Especially, the most popular Hachikake is patterned of glitzy and beautiful fabric. Let’s try to wear Awase and choose Hachikake of glitzy and beautiful!

・HITOE 「単衣」  (June and September)

As we described before, the Awase consisted by two layers of cloth but Hitoe (単衣) uses only a single layer of cloth. Compared to Awase, it is light, cool, and comfortable to wear because of less bulk. In the Heian Period (794-1185) Hitoe was worn as underwear by high-ranking people such as emperor or nobility before they wore traditional Japanese costume. In the end of Heian Period (about 1000-1185) Hitoe became outer wear clothing. Today (2019) people wear it as seasonable Kimono at the turn of the season. In original rule Hitoe is supposed to be worn in June and September, however this has been changing because of the climate change. Today, people can decide individually which type of Kimono to wear. When you want to wear Hitoe imagine that you are wearing a cardigan over a t-shirt.

・Usumono「薄物」(July, August)

In the summer time people wear Usumono (薄物).  Usumono is the one of the Hitoe, which is thinner, cooler and lighter than the normal Hitoe because of the fabric. All Kimono were made of high density silk in the past. Today, because the synthetic fiber is cheaper and more durable, many of Kimono are made from it instead. Silk Kimono are still made but they are very expensive. At that time, Usumono was made not only from silk but also using linen. There are traditional ways to weave the silk fabric named Ro (絽) and Sya (紗). Sya is very thin and transparent fabric. This fabric keeps people looking and feeling cool. It is made with two vertical lined silk threads and a single horizontal silk threads woven together. It is mainly made in Nishijin, Kyoto. Because the Sya is very transparent, it is worn in daily life for semi formal occasions. Ro is also very thin and transparent fabric, however compare to Sya, it looks a little thicker and higher gaged fabric. To make Ryo, it needs three steps. At first, weave vertical twisted silk threads and horizontal silk threads with each other. In the second, make plain weave. After that repeat the first step and the second step of weaving alternately. Ro fabric can be worn for wedding ceremonies held in during summer time or other formal situations. Today Yukata became the most famous Usumono in Japan however, in older eras, it was just clothing for ablutions, like a bathrobe.


                After reading this page, you may know more about Kimono. Not only just knowing what Kimono is but also, how to coordinate when you wear Kimono and also you can know what to choose in each season. There are differences between each kimono on the season. Today, the original culture has been changing day by day. From now, you can enjoy the both original way of Kimono and today’s style. Enjoy Kyoto!!

Further Reading

Chirimen Craft

by Chiaki Imanaka

Chirimen is a traditional weaving technique that was developed in the late sixteenth century in Japan. The cloth or silk fabric that is made from this technique is also called “chirimen.” The cloth has the unique feature of soft wrinkles. According to the pamphlet from the Chirimen Craft Museum, “the wrinkles are created by alternating two types of silk thread, twisted in different directions, by turns in the weft. The woven cloth is at first flat, but the wrinkles suddenly emerge after rinsing dirt out of the thread. This is the moment when the breathtaking beauty of the wrinkles is born.” These wrinkles are called “shibo” in Japanese. The shibo also appear because the weft (the thread being woven) is ten times thicker than the warp (the set of lengthwise threads). Chirimen is mostly used for finely made kimono. However, in chirimen craft, small pieces of the chirimen cloth are sewn together to create small, artful objects such as flowers, birds, animals, dolls, and small toys.

These days, Japanese women have advanced the art of chirimen by taking up the chirimen craft. Many of them want to cultivate themselves by learning to value fine things, develop their aesthetic sense, and become skilled with their hands. Now chirimen is also used as a material for pouches, wallets, bags, and other fashionable Japanese goods.

The Chirimen Craft Museum

There are several chirimen craft shops that have many cute items for sale in Kyoto. One of them shops is the Chirimen Craft Museum in Arashiyama. Other chirimen shops can be found on the Nishiki market street in central Kyoto and in the district of Gion. One popular item that is sold only at the shop in Arashiyama is the “hanging hina “hina” means “doll”. It is a kind of good luck charm that is hung from the ceiling and is used to pray for the health and happiness of children. Besides “hanging hina dolls” you can buy many different kinds of craft items made of chirimen: pierced earrings, combs, necklaces, pouches, T-shirts, and other small items. Seasonable articles are also popular. Some of them are made for a particular month. For example, for the month of June, which is known for the rainy season in Japan, there is a chirimen frog, tadpole, and snail for sale. Other sewn chirimen figures include seasonal vegetables, flowers, and animals. One item that is especially recommended is the chirimen rabbit. These are sold at a very reasonable price. In this store a lot of chirimen crafts are displayed. Have a good time in the Chirimen Craft Museum!


hanging hina doll


Chirimen Craft Museum, Arashiyama

Business hours: 10:00~18:00
Address: 19-2, Tsukurimichi-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-862-6332
Fax: 075-862-6333

Nishiki store

Business hours: 10:00~17:30
Address: Hokusei-kado, Nishikikoji-dori Yanaginobanba, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-241-1324
Fax: 075-241-1325

Gion store

Business hours: 10:00~19:00
Address: 216, Nakano-cho, Yamato-oji Nishi-iru, Shijo-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-551-1802
Fax: 075-551-1803