Kitsuke Accessories

Great! You've just bought this expensive shiny vintage kimono from a vendor at an anime convention. Time to take it home and put it on! Wait....oh crap.... what the hell do you do next?

Behold! a list of accessories in order to wear kimono!

It's been in my experience that kimono vendors, especially English speaking ones, tend to forget to mention or carry anything related to actually how to wear a kimono. All the information below was acquired through trial and error, independent research, and then finally polished a little with the help of some professional kimono dressing classes at a culture centre.

But before you go through it, I recommend you watch some kimono dressing tutorials first, if you haven't already done so, in order to familiar yourself with the process a little bit. Getting the accessories below will be easier when you understand them in context.

Here are some websites to get started with:
- Kyoto Kimono

Videos can also be accessed on youtube if you search "How to dress in a kimono", like from youtube user Baptiste Tavernier. (Just DON'T go to the WikiHow page, it SUCKS!!!)

Please note that the following list is in addition to a kimono and obi.

While I suggest ways on how to make some of your own accessories below, I recommend the following stores where you can purchase them from:

Pricey, yes, but hey, since when were hobbies cheap? It elevates the kimono experience by using authentic Japanese accessories in my opinion.


1. Naga-Juban
[lit="Long Juban"]

 Women's Nagajuban
I thought I could get away with using a yukata as a juban but it doesn't work very well. The point is you need the nagajuban to shape the collar of your kitsuke. A plastic insert is slipped in-between the main collar and the collar guard (the separate coloured fabric on the photos) to help shape it. Also, it serves the purpose of preventing your fine silk kimono from coming into contact with your skin. This was very important in especially humid Japan. Thankfully, you don't have to fret about getting one with many stains because they get completely covered under the kimono. The main thing to worry about is having a nice clean collar showing around your neck.

Men's Nagajuban

Places to buy a nagajuban include Ichiroya or Ebay.

They generally come in two styles; the one piece shown above and then a two piece version called a nibushiki nagajuban 二部式襦袢 "Two-Part Juban". The top part is the han juban襦袢 and the bottom is the susoyoke 裾よけ. Sometimes you can purchase them separately. While there are some men's jubans in this style, most are often women's. 

2. Hadajuban
[lit="Skin Underwear"]

This is a small cotton slip worn as the inner most layer. It is the kimono equivalent to underwear, with short, tapered western style sleeves and no collar. I'm assuming back in the day there was nothing else under it, but now-a-days, under it would be your bra and panties (or boxers). In my opinion, it's not a big deal to not have one because you can just wear a tight tank top and booty shorts instead.

One way to avoid wearing a hadajuban and a nagajuban is to attach sleeves "usotsukisode 嘘つき袖” (with Velcro) and an easy collar to a hadajuban.

An "easy collar" is called an kantan han-eri 簡単半衿 [lit="Simple Semi-Collar"], sometimes referred to as an usotsuki eri 嘘付き衿 "Lying collar". It is intended to be worn in the summer when adding too many layers becomes way too hot.


3. Hand towels

In other words, padding. This tends to get overlooked in some kimono dressing tutorials. The expected aesthetic of wearing kimono is producing a long, straight, tube like silhouette. Just look at all those professional kimono photos online! Look at how straight and smooth they are!Unfortunately, the female body has a tendency to be curvy in some spots and that just won't do. While there are specific body padding products for the sole purpose of wearing a kimono available online, they aren't that easily accessible to non-Japanese speakers just yet. Thankfully, there are easier ways to get around that.

When I took dressing classes, my kitsuke sensei had us students take a hand towel, fold it half long ways, and tie it against our backs under the juban. It was important to tie it on the back and not on the belly. This was to help flatten the curve of the back and waist so the obi would lie straighter.

It is also recommended for busty women to take a towel folded into a long strip and tie it under the bust.

4. Eri-shin

[lit="Collar core"]

This is a strip of plastic inserted into the collar of the nagajuban. It's required to create the perfect smooth, erect collar shape that is so essential for the kimono aesthetic. Here is a thread on how to make one.

5. Koshihimo

[lit="Hip Rope"]

You need many ropes to tie a kimono. I recommend you have at least seven; two for the juban, one for tying a towel around your waist, two for the kimono, and then two more for helping you tie the obi (which get removed later). You technically need only one for the juban to secure at the waist but I use the second one to tie above my bust to keep the collars from un-crossing.

I also recommend that you have one rope the same colour as the dominant colour of your kimono. This one should be used for the ohashori. The rope end won't look so jarring if it happens to accidently peak out from under the fold. It's pretty easy to head to a fabric store to get your own. Japanese koshimi are flat and long enough to wrap around twice for a secure fit.

6. Datejime
[lit="Flashy Rope"]

These are wider belts for your kitsuke. They are used to firmly anchor the kimono and smooth out the torso for tying the obi. Often, kimono dressing videos show one datejime tied around the juban, and then another around the kimono. And this is over top the koshihimo. I must admit, this is awfully daunting. This means you have a juban, a folded kimono, four ropes, and two datejime all under the obi. It's kind of like wearing a corset. To go on a bit of a tangent here, I once tied my kimono too tightly with all these ropes layered around my torso, and I induced nausea on myself. While it's tempting to tie a kimono as tight and neat as possible, be careful or you will make yourself sick!!

But anyways, there are two main types of datejime:

The traditional style made with silk,

or a more modern, elastic version with Velcro.

7. Obi-ita
[lit="Obi board"]

This is a firm, flexible board that is slipped in-between the layers of the obi at the front. This prevents the obi from being squished in when an obi-jime is tied around it and/or when the person bends over.

Some versions come with ropes or belts attached. These are anchored to the torso before the obi is tied.
Unless you have taken a super long fukuro obi and wrapped it around you three times, it's noticeable when you don't wear one. However, since it is hidden, it really can be anything that would do the trick. My kitsuke sensei recommended plastic weaving mesh (you know that stuff you use to make wool pictures?) available from craft stores, cut into shape and covered in a silky fabric. I've even seen Japanese woman stuff huge wads of newspaper into their yukata obi. As long as it looks good ladies!

8. Obi-makura
[lit="Obi pillow"]

This object is used to put volume under the obi knot (musubi). It's essential for placing the common Taiko knot high on the back.

This object is pretty easy to make. My kitsuke sensei made me one by carving out the shape out of packing Styrofoam and then stuffing it in the middle of the cut off leg of an old stocking. It's also pretty cheap to buy online too. I've also rolled up a towel tightly with an elastic band and hidden it in my obiage.

9. Obi-jime
[lit="Obi fastener"]

This is the decorative cord that is often seen tied around the middle of the obi when worn. It serves two functions; to be pretty while helping to secure the obi knot in place, keeping the taiko musubi from falling out.

10. Obi-age

This is a usually silk sash that is used to hide the obi-makura. It is usually tied into a knot around the torso and tucked into the top of the obi, which a little bit showing. However, there are different styles of tucking it in and is often more visible with furisode kimonos.

I've found that lots of silky looking, colourful, long thin scarves can be found at thrift stores and work perfectly as an obiage. I personally have a bunch of authentic and "western scarf" obiage in my collection to help create different looks.

11. Zouri

While wearing western shoes has become trendy with modern kimono wearing, bare in mind that taking shoes on and off while in kimono is very difficult. Zouri can be slipped on and off without having to bend over. If you want to have the authentic Japanese kimono look, then get a nice pair of zouri.

12. Tabi

Definitely a must when wearing zouri. Not only would western socks be difficult, they would look all scrunched up and messy!

Tip: Always put on tabi first before dressing in kimono. Trust me, having to bend over afterwards to get them on is a lot more difficult.

Optional but Useful

1. Eri/Obi Clip (Eri-Dome)

Unless you are an experienced kimono wearer, it is highly recommended that some sort of clip is used in the process of dressing. Above is a Japanese product directly marketed for that purpose. It has a lot of tension and a soft rubber layer inside. I recommend having two. One is used to clip the collars at the back to prevent the centers from slipping, and another is used to help with tying the obi, such as clipping the loose end to your body so it doesn't fall down before you need to move it. It's also useful in preventing the layers of obi around your waist from loosening before you get the chance to secure it with an obi-makura.

Mine have little bells on them. I finally realized why when I was able to find them inside a pile of clothes by shaking the bed. 

If you look through kitchen stores, you can find alternative clips such as the ones used to clip bags together. They have a little less tension then Japanese kimono clips just so you know.

2. Korin Belt

This useful adjustable, elastic belt has two firm clips on the end. Each clip is attached to a collar and then tightened around the torso to pull the kimono collars across one another. It can be used in lieu of a koshihimo. Its usefulness varies from person to person depending on their body type, since some body curves tend to allow the collars to slip out of place easier. I use it on my juban since the collar has to be crossed tighter than the kimono.
2. Obidome Kanagu
[lit="Obi stopping fitting"]

This weird little device is a clip. The legs of it are clipped around the obi in the back to help prevent the it from coming loose while trying to place the obi mukura. It is completely covered after everything is completed.

2. Emonnuki 
[Lit= Cloth crosspiece]

 (Photo from KimonoPonchoCom)

The strip of fabric seen running down the back, called an emonnuki, is attached to the base of the collar. Then a korin belt or koshimo is pulled through the loops. This helps keep the collar securely pulled down. (Sometimes referred to as a chikara nuno [lit=strong fabric])

And there you have it have it folks. I hope my page was useful!

**Disclaimer: Please note that I took a personal crack at trying to translate the Japanese names. They may be inaccurate.

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