Since the MEIJI Period (AD 1868 to 1912), how have the KIMONOs varied and developed till today?

tsuma moyo


Due to the admiration for western clothing introduced from abroad, people wore KIMONOs less and less, which eventually made KIMONO a special clothing for people.

Characteristics of KIMONOs from the end of MEIJI Period to TAISHŌ Period (AD1912-1926) are the designs placed along the edge of women’s KIMONO called “TSUMA MOYŌ”.

tsuma moyo 2While still using ancient Japanese patterns, being influenced by the Art Nouveau though international events such the Paris Word Expo, there were also western flowers or other plants adopted as a motif of the design for the TSUMA MOYŌ, which looks like an oil-painting picture.

Compared to the conservative Japanese traditional designs used in the KIMONOs of previous generation, you can see much more modern and bold expression in the KIMONOs of TAISHŌ Period.

taisho kimonoAs this period is often described by a word “TAISHŌ Roman”, a Japanese expression which refers to a trend of thought or cultures that conveys free and generous atmosphere of the TAISHŌ Period, I guess the current of the time is widely reflected upon the designs of KIMONO as well.

taisho lady

Ukiyo-e portraying beauty of TAISHŌ

This was when the new style of KIMONO was established.

Around this time, the western culture firstly introduced in MEIJI Period spread in common people and various western things were used as motifs of KIMONO designs. Japanese traditional designs were also redesigned to western-like, and the Art Deco which happened after the Art Nouveau also affected the designs of KOMONO at that time.


KASURI patterns

As a daily KIMONO, KASURI pattern (geometric pattern) became popular among people.
A wide variety of KASURI patterns were used in “OMESHI” (KIMONO made of silk crepe), “TSUMUGI” (KIMONO made of pongee) and “AKASHI CHIJIMI” (KIMONO made of crepe from AKASHI area).

Afterward, Japan experienced major world wars and due to the self-restraint mood during the war time I believe, the clear-cut and bold designs disappeared and the KIMONOs with chic and subdued color and designs became the mainstream.



Even today, especially for HŌMONGI (secondly formal KIMONO mentioned here), people tend to put importance on modesty.

For non-formal KIMONOs too, calm and warm designs which produce the sense of “WABI-SABI” (Japanese aesthetic sense emphasizing quiet simplicity and subdued refinement) are preferred such as EDOKOMON mentioned here.

That’s it for the history of KIMONO. As you can see, KIMONO was originally a tool of dividing people into castes being worn with limited freedom, then gradually became a kind of mirror which reflects the circumstance and people’s thought of the time and which eventually created for the later age so-called “trend” among people who really enjoyed it!