Monday, April 25, 2011

Kimono resources: Kitsuke information

So now you have a kimono, or are thinking of getting one. But what kind should you get? What are the different kinds, anyway? How do you know what matches it? And how the heck do you put a kimono ON anyway? Here are a few resources that I have found. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments!

Unfortunately, there aren’t all that many kitsuke books available in English. I only know of two, actually: “The Book of Kimono” by Norio Yamanaka, and the more recently released “The New Kimono” by Nanao Magazine. Both books are excellent additions to your kimono and kitsuke library, but I prefer “The New Kimono” because it has the same step-by-step pictures instructions found in Japanese kimono magazines, along with instructions for each step written in English. Which makes perfect sense, since the book is a collection of translated articles from a Japanese kimono magazine. Both books are available on

Magazines and mooks:
If you’re willing to venture on to the Amazon Japan, you can buy Japanese kimono magazines and mooks, ranging from those that cover general topics to specialty items like bridal magazines and yukata magazines. Some of these are only instructional in nature, some are only to demonstrate current styles and advertise products, and some are a mixture of the two. I’ll be reviewing some of the Japanese books from my own collection as we go.

- The Immortal Geisha forums are usually my go-to place for all kitsuke questions, from basic instructions to matching to motif identification. They’re also a great resource for anything related to geiko and maiko.

- YouTube is a surprisingly good source of kimono-dressing videos. Some, like the one from Ichiroya (which I think is technically about yukata dressing) are meant to be instructional, while others are not. Keep in mind that just because a video is about dressing in yukata doesn’t mean it’s useless if you want to dress in kimono -- the most basic rules of kitsuke are the same no matter what. Start by searching for “kimono dressing.”

- Kimono Market Sakura has videos on wearing yukata. But please be aware that the model is wearing a juban under the yukata (and they don’t show instructions for putting that on). There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with have a juban under your yukata. In fact, it’s something of a modern style and is one of the things you would do to bump the yukata’s formality up a notch so you could wear it to, say, a summer beer garden. But it’s not standard yukata-wearing practice.

- Yukatalism is a Japanese website with some animated GIFs of several obi musubi that can be worn with yukata.

- Wikipedia is actually a decent starting place for information on the different kinds of kimono.

- The kimono encyclopedia on Japanese Lifestyle has a good, short breakdown of information on the different kinds of kimono.

1 comment:

  1. I might want to add: Kidoraku Japan and Toma-san's website.
    And yes, both books are recommended for getting the basic kitsuke and inspiration :).