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Do Men Wear Kimonos? A Look at the Male Kimono Tradition

Do Men Wear Kimonos? A Look at the Male Kimono Tradition

The kimono, a traditional Japanese garment, is not only a cultural icon but also attire that transcends gender, with both men and women donning variations of this classic attire. But when it comes to men, how do they integrate the kimono into their wardrobes, and on what occasions? This article explores the tradition of the male kimono, its various styles, and its modern adaptations.

What is a Male Kimono Called?

Traditionally, the term "kimono" refers to a full-length robe worn by both genders in Japan. Men's kimonos are typically called just that—kimonos. However, specific styles and terms are used depending on the occasion, such as the formal "Montsuki," which is often worn with "Haori" (a jacket) and "Hakama" (pleated trousers).

The Distinctive Design of Men's Kimonos

Men's kimonos generally feature more subdued colors and simpler designs compared to women's kimonos. They are often made in dark, solid colors like black, grey, or dark blue, and the materials used range from silk for high-end pieces to cotton and polyester for everyday wear. The patterns, if present, tend to be subtle, often incorporating traditional motifs like family crests.

Rank Number Two Kimono: Second Level Outfit For Formal Occasion

For formal occasions, men wear what is termed as a "Rank Number Two" kimono, typically a slightly less formal version of the highest formal attire. This would usually consist of a Haori and Hakama in darker, less embellished fabrics compared to those worn at the most formal settings like weddings or tea ceremonies.

What Types of Men's Kimono are There?

Men’s kimonos vary widely depending on the formality of the occasion. Formal kimono attire is reserved for special events such as weddings, ceremonies, and is often worn by individuals in significant roles like grooms and priests at temples.

  • Formal: Montsuki kimonos, often black with family crests.

  • Semi-formal: Usually involves less intricate Hakama and possibly a colored Haori.

  • Casual: Known as “Yukata,” these are typically made from cotton and are worn during informal events like summer festivals.

In addition to the Yukata, a casual kimono option includes garments like the kutsugi no sharegi, ideal for relaxed settings or local errands.

High Rank Informal Occasion Kimono

For high rank informal occasions, men might choose a kimono ensemble that is elegant yet less strict in formality. This could include silk kimonos without a family crest, paired with a subdued Haori and simpler Hakama.

Where Can I See Men Wearing Kimono?

In modern Japan, men’s kimono wearing is most commonly seen during formal events, such as weddings, traditional ceremonies, and cultural celebrations. Tourists can often see men dressed in kimonos in historical cities like Kyoto, especially during cultural festivals.

What Does a Japanese Men's Kimono Outfit Consist Of?

A complete traditional outfit includes the kimono itself, an Obi belt tied around the waist, a Haori jacket, and sometimes Hakama trousers, particularly for formal occasions.

How to Style Men's Kimono Fashion?

Styling a men's kimono involves selecting the appropriate type and color of kimono based on the occasion. Accessories like the Obi belt, traditional socks (Tabi), and wooden sandals (Zori or Geta) complete the look. Modern adaptations might include wearing the Haori with western clothing for a contemporary twist.

What Colors are Men's Kimono?

Men’s kimonos are typically found in neutral or subdued colors. Common choices include blacks, greys, dark greens, and blues. Brighter colors may be used in less formal types such as Yukata.

Differences Between Men's Kimonos And Women's Kimonos

Men’s kimonos are less ornate than women's kimono, featuring subdued colors and minimal patterns. Women's kimono, on the other hand, often showcase a wider range of colors and intricate designs, highlighting the design and style differences between men's and women's traditional Japanese garments. They are also typically shorter in sleeve length and simpler in design, focusing more on subtle elegance. The cultural perceptions and acceptance of women wear, including women wearing male kimonos in various contexts such as traditional storytelling performances, work settings, and everyday fashion, reflect a dynamic interplay between tradition and contemporary practices.

Why do Men wear Kimono Less Often than Women?

Cultural shifts and modern clothing convenience have led to a decline in kimono wearing among men. Modern attire is often seen as more practical for daily activities.

Can Men Wear Kimono?

Absolutely. While less common in everyday life today, men can and do wear kimonos for special occasions and cultural events, embracing this traditional garment as a symbol of cultural pride and heritage.

The Modern Man's Kimono: A Rare Yet Respected Choice

In contemporary Japan and around the world, the kimono remains a respected choice for men, though it is typically reserved for special occasions. The modern man’s kimono might also incorporate innovative materials and designs that bridge traditional aesthetics with contemporary fashion trends. The rise of men's kimono fashion brands has significantly contributed to the kimono's resurgence in men's fashion, marking its modern popularity and adaptation.

When do Japanese men wear kimonos?

Japanese men typically wear men's kimono during significant cultural events such as the Tea Ceremony, Rakugo performances, formal gatherings, and ceremonies that call for traditional attire, showcasing the variety of occasions and cultural events where the kimono is traditionally worn by men.

Can foreigners wear male kimonos?

Foreigners are welcome to wear male kimonos, especially while participating in cultural events or ceremonies in Japan. It's seen as a sign of respect and appreciation for Japanese culture.

What Common Design Features can be seen on Japanese Men's Kimono?

Common design features include subdued colors, minimalistic patterns, and the occasional display of a family crest, especially on formal garments.

How do Men Style Modern Kimono?

Modern styling of men's kimonos often involves mixing traditional elements with contemporary fashion. For casual settings, a Yukata might be paired with simple sandals for summer festivals or fireworks events. In more urban settings, younger generations might wear a Haori jacket over Western clothes like jeans and a t-shirt, blending global fashion trends with traditional Japanese elements. This modern approach allows the kimono to adapt to today's diverse lifestyle while maintaining its cultural essence.

The Enduring Appeal of the Male Kimono

Despite its occasional use in modern times, the male kimono holds an enduring appeal. It stands as a symbol of cultural pride and heritage, reflecting the rich history and meticulous craftsmanship of Japanese traditional clothing. Whether worn at a tea ceremony, a festival, or a formal event, the kimono remains a distinguished and respected choice that continues to inspire both wearers and admirers around the world.


In conclusion, the tradition of men wearing kimonos, though not as prevalent as it once was, remains a deeply respected facet of Japanese culture. The male kimono showcases the elegance and dignity of traditional Japanese attire and offers a unique window into the country's rich historical and cultural heritage. From the formal Montsuki worn at weddings to the casual Yukata at summer festivals, each style serves a purpose and conveys a message about the wearer's respect for tradition. Modern adaptations and styles continue to keep the kimono relevant in contemporary fashion, bridging the gap between the old and the new. As both Japanese and international men embrace this iconic garment, the kimono remains a symbol of cultural pride and timeless style, ensuring its place in both history and modern wardrobes. Whether seen on the streets of Kyoto during a festival or at a formal ceremony, the male kimono is more than just attire—it is an art form, a cultural statement, and a continuous source of inspiration.

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