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September 23, 2021

33 Vintage Photos of Japanese Women Dressing in Kimono in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment and the national dress of Japan. The kimono is a T-shaped, wrapped-front garment with square sleeves and a rectangular body, and is worn left side wrapped over right. The kimono is traditionally worn with a broad sash, called an obi, and is commonly worn with accessories such as zōri sandals and tabi socks.

Kimono life in old Japan

Kimono have a set method of construction and are typically made from a long, narrow bolt of cloth known as a tanmono, though Western-style fabric bolts are also sometimes used.

There are different types of kimono for men, women and children, varying based on the occasion, the season, the wearer’s age, and - less commonly in the modern day - the wearer’s marital status. Despite perception of the kimono as a formal and difficult to wear garment, there are types of kimono suitable for every formality, including informal occasions. The way a person wears their kimono is known as kitsuke.

In the present day, the kimono is not typically worn as everyday dress, and has steadily fallen out of fashion as the most common garment for a Japanese person to own and wear. Kimono are now most frequently seen at summer festivals, where people frequently wear the yukata, the most informal type of kimono; however, more formal types of kimono are also worn to funerals, weddings, graduations, and other formal events. Other people who commonly wear kimono include geisha and maiko, who are required to wear it as part of their profession, and rikishi, or sumo wrestlers, who must wear kimono at all times in public.

Despite the low numbers of people who wear kimono commonly and the garment's reputation as a complicated article of clothing, the kimono has experienced a number of revivals in previous decades, and is still worn today as fashionable clothing within Japan.

A set of colorized photos from Okinawa Soba (Rob) that shows what kimono life in old Japan looked like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A couple of dancing girls taken in a 19th century Yokohama studio

Adapting a hallway carpet to human bondage for the sake of fashion

Adjusting the ties of the bride's kimono

An obi mechanic replacing a rusty bolt

Dying kimono fabrics. Textile art for geisha and maiko

Fixing the obi

Fixing the obi

Fixing the obi

Flying cranes adorn a maiko

Four pretty geisha girls turn their backs on the photographer

Frumpy, dumpy, and lumpy

Geisha adjusting her kimono

Geisha making a winter wish

Geishas folding a kimono in old Japan

Hair-do time in old Japan

Japanese woman and their everyday tools

Japanese woman and their everyday tools

Japanese women and their everyday tools

Kimono sellers

Kimono silk store in old Japan

Maiden in a mirror

Rare "coat-hanger" style

Repairing kimonos in old Japan

Taking a stroll down kimono lane. An open air clothing market in old Japan

The high class Kitsuke of some typical immortal geisha

The seven lucky hairstyles of old Japan

The silk store. Two Japanese girls start from scratch, dreaming of a new kimono in old Japan

The used kimono sellers. Recycled fashion for kids and adults in old Japan

Treating the fabric in old Japan. Rice paste, brush, and stenciled designs

Two geisha still can't decide what to wear after three hours in the dressing room

Two women at a loom in old Japan

Used kimonos and yukata for the poorer classes and country folk in old Japan

Warping the woof in a kimono and a flower


  1. On other occasions, Breitner used photography for general reference, to capture an atmosphere, a light effect or the weather in the city at a particular vidmate moment.

  2. The captions of some the photos are not only wrong, plenty are downright rude. Why not check before posting stuff like that? People come to this page for information, not to see bad jokes.




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