Interview: Professional Kimono Dresser Mio Zenmosa



Summer has come. This normally means more colorful festivals for Japan and foreigners like me, that reminds colorful beautiful Yukata and Kimono. Today my guest is my good friend Mio Zenmosa who is a licensed kimono dresser. She will tell us about the history of Kimono wearing.




Ö.Burcu: Can you tell us a little about kimono history and over the years does it changed any?


Mio: First of all, kimono means cloths in Japanese. But somewhere along the way, we take kimono as Japanese traditional textile.

Ancient people wore simple fabric to cover their bodies and tied to fasten the fabric.

Since about 794, people came up with the basic style of kimono.

In winter, they layered over some kimonos. In summer they change the fabric to thin cotton or hemp. It led to being fashion style eventually.

Since 1192, not only women but also men liked to wear colorful kimono. People were enjoying kimono fashion.

Since 1853, after Japan started to import and export with America, Japan became to be affected by foreign countries, so the government demanded citizens to wear western-style clothes when they went to public places.

People liked to wear western-style because it was easy to wear, move, and a representative of modern fashion. and eventually, kimono has become something which is worn on special occasions such as party, going out, festivals.




Ö.Burcu: There are professional kimono dressers like you who get a diploma/certificate called Omenjyou. what kind of training does a person get to learn how to dress a person in a kimono?


Mio: There are some schools to learn how to wear, how to put on kimono in Japan. In my case, I went to a school once or twice a week for about 5 years. Now I have all of Omenjyo(qualifications) from bridal wear to Jyunihitoe.


Ö.Burcu: What’s the difference between kimono and yukata? I heard Yukata originally for home-usage. Then became popular for summer times.


Mio: Yes, Yukata was actually for noble people including emperor to use while taking a bath.

Some people took care of them while they were having a bath. They couldn’t be naked in front of them because they were nobles.

Eventually, ordinary people also started to wear yukata as a pajama. So, ancient people can’t go out in yukata once upon a time.




Ö.Burcu: There are special kimono for special occasions, right? Can you give us some information about them? What they are called and what are the differences from daily used kimono? And also does patterns and colors on kimono have any special meanings?





Mio: In modern times, kimono has 4 patterns;


Homongi…People wear it when they go to a public place such as wedding ceremonies, or parties.

It is made like a ‘one picture’; Even though kimono has many stitches, kimono craft people must sew it like a whole one picture.





Furisode is also one of the Homongi.


Iromuji…This is also for public places like wedding ceremony, tea ceremony. It is made with only 1 color.





Komon・・・This is the very convenient traditional kimono style. People wear them like normal clothing.





Yukata…It is for the summer festival, especially among young people. There are fewer people who know it was basically pajama in Japan.


People can enjoy color whenever they like. But when a funeral is held, people must wear a black one.


Ö.Burcu: Empress wore a special kimono at the ceremony of Enthronement which is called Junihitoe. What is Junihitoe?





Mio: jūnihitoe was the best formal dress for female noble including empress. It was in fashion only for prestige class females around 900.

jūni means 12. They wear 12 colorful kimonos and dressed up.


Ö.Burcu: Also the accessory used with kimono is important, right? For example; hairpins, Zori, handbags...





Mio: Yes, Accessories are also important when we wear kimono, but it has no meaning. We just enjoy them as a fashion (^_^)




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