This time, let’s talk about the Rank of KIMONO.

Similar to the western dress code, KIMONO has also a set of rules depending on so-called T.P.O. (Time, Place and Occasion).

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If you are invited to an Imperial event such as the Medal of Honor giving ceremony or the Imperial Garden Party, the most formal occasion in Japan, you must wear the No.1 formal KIMONO which is “IROTOMESODE” with “ITSUTSUMON” in order to see The Emperor.

“IROTOMESODE” means a KIMONO of which background color is any other than black and its patterns are woven only in the lower body part of the KIMONO.

kamon places


“ITSUTSUMON” means “family crest on five places”, you put a family crest on the back of KIMONO, two on the back of sleeves, and two on the chest. 

And also, when you participate in a wedding ceremony of your family members, while you can wear the IROTOMESODE with ITSUTSUMON again, you can select “KUROTOMESODE” with ITSUTSUMON if you are married.

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“KUROTOMESODE” means a KIMONO of which background color is black and its patterns are woven only in the lower body part of the KIMONO.

The photo on the right, they are examples of KUROTOMESODE with ITSUTSUMON. The KIMONO on the left, this is KUROTOMESODE with hand-drawn pattern of the Phoenix, and on the right, this is a KUROTOMESODE with the pattern of “SHOSO-IN KAMON (flower pattern)”.
*The white circular parts in the KIMONOs above are filled with your family crest to complete this KUROTOMESODE.

TODAI-JI temple (left) and SHOSO-IN (right)

This pattern is often seen in the dyed or woven fabric works stored in SHOSO-IN (a treasure storehouse in the TODAI-JI temple in Nara prefecture), expressing so-called the Silk Road Culture such as Tang (an ancient Chinese era) culture or the culture in the western regions of China.
This kind of ancient pattern is often used in KUROTOMESODE which is a high-ranking KIMONO.

5 kamonsNow, talking about Japanese family crest called KAMON, there are around 2,000 kinds in Japan. Of them, SAGARIFUJI (hanging wisteria), YOKOMOKKOU (oblong sliced cucumber), AOI (three hollyhock leaves), CHO (butterfly), UMEBACHI (plum blossom) are major five KAMONs in Japan.

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Returning to the No.1 formal KIMONO, if you are single, you can wear “FURISODE” which is a type of KIMONO with long, trailing sleeves.

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Then, when you participate in other ceremonial, happy events like an awards ceremony, a dinner party or a tea ceremony, you will be in “HOMONGI” which is the No.2 formal KIMONO with beautiful and colorful design of which you see the patterns in the lower body part, the left side of the chest and sleeves.

HOMONGI can be worn regardless of whether you are single or married.
By time-consuming efforts of artisans, these patterns are correctly continued over the seams of KIMONO. 

Compared to western dresses, the No.1 formal KIMONO: IROTOMESODE and KUROTOMESODE could be equivalent to Robe Décolleté or Robe Montante, then No.2 formal KIMONO: HOMONGI would be an Evening Dress, Cocktail Dress or Afternoon Dress when it is a day party.