Clothes and Accessories

In Japan, both men and women wore kimono until the late nineteenth century.  By the turn of the century kimono were being worn alongside Western clothes, but nowadays they are usually reserved for special occasions.  Traditionallygeta, a type of wooden sandal or clog, were worn with kimono.  A wide variety of dying and embroidery techniques were used on kimono to achieve a dazzling array of colours and patterns, including geometric shapes, animals, landscapes and natural  themes.


Mon (crests) were sometimes added to kimono, especially formal ones.  Family mon were used on clothes or flags for identification, like a coat of arms or a family tartan in Scotland.  Most are circular and have an abstracted design in the centre, often based on plants or animals.  Actors, shops and organisations designed their own mon.


Kimono do not have pockets so men hung their belongings, including inrō, tobacco pouches, and money pouches from their belts. However, women wore a wide obi (belt), which was unsuitable for hanging objects from.  Instead, they sometimes tucked small items such as fans into their collar or sleeves.

Inrō are lacquered oval shaped boxes made up of several compartments used for carrying seals or medicine.  A variety of lacquer techniques including low, high, sprinkled, and carved lacquer are used to decorate the surface.  There were laws against ostentatious display, but inrō were small enough to escape notice and therefore a lot of money and attention was lavished on them as a way for townsmen to display their wealth and taste.


A small bead called a nojime was used to tighten the cords and keep the compartments of an inrō from opening.  Netsuke (toggles) were attached to inrō by silk cords to prevent them from sliding out of the belt.  Originally netsuke were plain and functional but they became more elaborate and intricate to display the skill of the carver.

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