Friday, May 7, 2010

Kimono Knowledge: Different Types of Furisode

While you could write a small book on this topic, today we're going to get into the very basics of how to tell furisode apart for newbies to the kimono scene. (If you'd like to learn more about kimono in general, check out the "Kimono" section of the TKL bookstore.)

Furisode is technically just a kimono-construction term: it means "swinging sleeves" and refers to any long-sleeved kimono. However, as no one wears casual ones anymore, it's come to mean not only long-sleeved but fancy/formal as well.

If you were to go searching for a furisode online, several types would likely pop up: three different wedding ones, non-wedding ones, and dance ones. They all have specific occasions they're used for, and it's important not to mix them up when you buy one. So how can you tell them apart?

Wedding furisode (for the ceremony), aka "shiromuku": 白無垢

These will be solid white with white-on-white patterns embroidered, often featuring cranes or opening fans, both auspicious wedding symbols. They will also have a thick padded hem, as they're meant to drag along the floor behind you. They are technically a type of "uchikake."

Wedding furisode (for the ceremony, worn overcoat-style), aka "uchikake": 打ち掛け

These are usually red but can be other colors as well, and are distinguished by their heavy use of metallic embroidery and motifs like pine, crane, and opening fans. They also have padded hems.

Wedding furisode (for the ceremony or after the ceremony at the reception), aka usually known as "hiki-furisode" or "kakeshita" (most common) or "hanayome-furisode": 引き振袖 or 掛下 or 花嫁振袖

These typically feature stunningly bright color combinations and padded hems, with just a bit of metallic thread and the motifs at times much more general (flowers, fruit, water, etc.).

Dance performance furisode (for maiko, theater, etc.), aka most commonly known as "hikizuri" in English listings: 引きずり or 引き摺り

These kimono can show a variety of motifs and colors, but will usually only have the faintest hint of metallic thread if they have any. You can tell them apart from "normal wear" furisode by their long length and padded hem along the bottom, which you can ask about if it isn't apparent from the sellers' photos.

Normal or regular furisode (worn by unmarried young women for parties, events, New Year's, etc.), aka "furisode":

If it doesn't have a padded hem and much metallic thread, it's a normal one. :D Easy, right?

Easy Checklist Format

1. Does it have a padded hem?
A.) No? It's probably a regular furisode. You're done!
B.) Yes? Go to 2.

2. Is it solid white?
A.) Yes? It's a shiromuku. Done!
B.) No? Go to 3.

3. Is it almost blindingly bright?
A.) Yes? It's a kakeshita. Done!
B.) No? Go to 4.

4. Does it have a ton of metallic embroidery?
A.) Yes? It's probably an uchikake. Done!
B.) No? Padded hem but not much or any metallic thread? It's probably a dance hikizuri.

Images copyright Ichiroya and used with permission.

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