Friday, June 14, 2013

The Furisode Kimono

Furisode, which translates to swinging (furi) sleeves (sode), is the type of Japanese kimono robe with long, flowing sleeves that hang down from the arms up to the calves or ankles and which is sewn onto a small part of the kimono as compared to other types of kimono, thus its tendency to sway or flutter.

Furisodes can be considered as a symbol of youth as they are almost exclusively worn by young, unmarried women on formal occasions, like the Coming-of-Age Day, graduation ceremony, hotel or restaurant wedding reception, and other events or places that require formal kimono dressing, although it is also considered fine to wear them on other occasions, like a casual party, dinner, tea gathering, on a Japanese theatre, or on an exhibit.

Furisode Kimono Material and Designs

Furisodes are made of high quality Japanese silk fabrics. Also, they usually look like one big piece of artwork because of the pattern of their design, which tends to run seamlessly from the shoulder, arm, sleeves, okumi (overlap panels below the collar), eri (collar), and sode (sleeves), or between the top and bottom of the kimono.

The elegant sheen of the silk fabric of furisodes are frequently matched with beautiful floral patterns, like the Japanese plum, cherry blossom, or chrysanthemum, or auspicious symbols of Japan, like hand fans, pines, and bamboos, which may be embroidered or color-dyed, i.e., tie-dyed (shibori) or Yuzen-dyed, onto their fabric.

Three (3) Types of Furisodes

The furisode actually comes in three (3) types and classified according to the length of their sleeves, i.e.,:

Oo-Furisode, Hon-Furisode, or grand furisode. Considered as the most formal furisode, the sleeves of an o-furisode measure, on the average, 115 to 125 cm long. It is frequently lined and heavy, thus, usually reserved for the most formal occasions, like the Coming-of-Age Day and weddings. The most colorful oo-furisodes are worn by brides on their wedding day and such are named kakeshita, which is, essentially, the last furisode that a married lady wears.

Chu-Furisode or mid-length furisode. Considered as the most popular type of furisode and their sleeves measure 90 cm on the average.

Ko-Furisode or small furisode. The sleeves of a ko-furisode measure 75 cm. They usually have simpler designs on the top-half of the kimono only as compared to other types of furisodes, and usually worn these days as a part of a graduation outfit under hakama pants.

How to Wear a Furisode Kimono with a Cultural and Avant-Garde Fashion Style?

Think that you are only limited to donning the Japanese kimono in old-world Japanese-style fashion?

Perhaps, not necessarily, as a growing number of young women in Japan today are already starting to wear their furisode in fashionable states, like wearing their kimono with a laced, rhinestone-embellished, or embroidered collar; accessorizing the obi with pearls or rhinestones; applying nail art onto their basic manicure so their nails complement the design on their kimono; and, adopting the modern fashion trends, like color blocking, in the way they choose the colors for their kimono, making it possible to bridge the gap between the centuries-old style of the kimono and avant-garde fashion trends.

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