Japanese Traditional Clothing

Japan is a country with traditions and cultures. Over the years the fashion of Japan has grown and updated.

Kimonos are the standard for traditional Japanese dress. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to Japan’s traditional garment, the kimono. Most Japanese women wore kimonos daily until the Second World War.

Nowadays, you can only spot one at a festival, a ceremony, a wedding, or a historical site like Kyoto. There are distinctions in what men and women of different ages and professions wear in Japan. Some are less common, yet many Japanese wear them on special occasions.

Japanese Traditional Clothing

In this article, we will be discussing Japan’s traditional attire.

Japanese Traditional Clothing


The kimono is the national costume of Japan. Kimono translates to “garment,” however there are more than ten distinct styles. In the past, the Kimono would have been incomplete without the Hakama. Now, it’s all the rage to wear your kimono without the Hakama and only uses the sash, or Obi, to keep it in place.

Kimonos are traditionally worn during funerals, weddings, formal events, and tea ceremonies. Clothing hues and styles change with the season, the wearer’s age, and her marital status.


The Yukata is the more relaxed version of the Kimono. These light, breathable fibers are ideal for the warmer months. As its name suggests, a yukata is worn by bathers without any undergarments and is secured with an Obi sash.

Yukata is a staple of summer events and historic cities like Kyoto. Yukatas are a more affordable alternative to Kimonos and make for excellent keepsakes. 

Hakama pants

The Japanese pants known as hakama are loose and pleated. Hakama is a traditional garment in Japan that was originally worn by woodworkers.

Typically worn by males, women may also don them when celebrating academic achievements or participating in sports like archery and judo. A hakama from the modern era would look great with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.


The Haori, like the Hanten, was a loose-fitting, medium-length jacket reserved for the aristocracy. It is one of the most expensive traditional Japanese clothes because of its high social status.

The Kimono’s Haori is worn atop it. The garment gained instant respect when soldiers wore them in the battle to keep warm. Grooms of today still don Haori for special occasions like weddings and coming-of-age rituals.


The loinclothed workwear known as fundoshi is a staple of Japanese culture. During the Hakata Gion Yamakasa in Fukuoka, Kyushu Prefecture, men and boys dress in traditional fundoshi garb. Men wearing white fundoshi loincloths at the “Naked” event carry heavy wooden buckets.

This is a traditional Japanese gi.

It’s usual to see ordinary Japanese men wearing Hanten shirts. The Edo period (1603-1867) is credited as the time when they first appeared, but their rise to prominence only occurred in the 18th century.

Puffy Hanten coats

Sellers and artists in Hanten coats. A tie is in the middle of the black satin collar of this unisex jacket. Bras made from kimonos are worn under and over the Hanten shirt during the colder months.

The Happi

Historically, housekeepers would wear “Happiness” t-shirts to display their devotion to the household-they worked for. Later, Happi shirts became the new uniform for businesses that wanted to project a positive image.

An aroma of happiness fills the air during the warm months. At first, only available in brown and indigo, Happi shirts are now available in a rainbow of colors.


The karate uniform known as a Karategi is a staple of Japanese culture. The garment is made of white cotton or linen and has a relaxed fit.

Karategi consists of a belted jacket and matching pants. The jacket has elastic at the cuffs and hem, and long sleeves that may be rolled up. The karate gi is typically worn with black pants and a white undershirt.

Karategi serves as both a functional and symbolic object. In Japanese culture, the color white represents innocence. In karate, katas are symbols of the values that guide training.

The Samue and Jinbei

Townspeople wore Jinbeis to work, whereas Buddhist monks wore Samues. The Samue is the standard uniform of a gardener.

The Samue are easily identifiable from the Junbei due to their pants. The pants of the Samue style end at the ankle, while the Jinbei style ends at the knee. In addition, many Jinbei has yarn around the shoulders to allow air circulation. The Samue can be worn all year, but Jinbei is more of a summer staple.

The Samue and Jinbei are types of traditional Japanese clothes typically made from hemp or cotton and dyed blue, green, or indigo. The shirt and pant pairs are similar.


Typically made from white cotton or linen, an Aikidogi’s sleeves are much longer than those of a Kimono. The Aikidogi can be worn with either the jacket and pants of the Judogi or the Hakama.

Aikidogi is both a martial art and a way of life. They stand for the simplicity, sincerity, and integrity of aikido. Dressing in Aikido’s traditional gi, or Aikidogi, is a sign of humility and respect.

The Kendogi

Every style of Japanese karate has a corresponding name for its uniform. For this reason, Kendo inspired the creation of Kendogi.

Kendo is a martial art that evolved from Kenjutsu and traditionally employs bamboo swords and armor modeled like that used by samurai.

For protection against kendo blows, the Kendogi comprises of a Hakama and a jacket made of cotton with thick embroidery. Your neck, shoulders, arms, and chest would be safe when wearing armor.

Tobi pair of pants

Don’t get too excited about inflatable pants just yet. Balloon pants and Tobi Pants may look similar, but they are not the same thing.

Tobi Pants are a common piece of workwear in Japan. They are more comfortable and easier to move in, thus construction workers often wear baggy pants. With its roomy cut, Tobi Pants are accommodating and easy to move in. Extra material serves as a sensor while working on confined, elevated scaffolding.

The Tonbi Coat

The Tonbi coat is a staple piece of clothing for Japanese males. The hooded coat is made of wool or cashmere and features a fur trim. These coats, used for warmth in the winter, are traditionally black.

A Tonbi Coat indeed looks like something Sherlock Holmes might wear. The Tonbi Coat takes its style from traditional Inverness capes.

Final Words

Japan’s cultural identity cannot be separated from the country’s traditional clothing. Dressing appropriately for centuries-old rituals is a point of pride for many people. People in Japan wear these kinds of clothes, especially in more historic or popular areas.

It’s not uncommon for specialty stores to have higher prices. If you’re looking for a unique memento or just want to try on some authentic Japanese garb, you should seek out kimono rental shops.

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