Glossary of terms for pre-Edo-period men’s Japanese clothing and accessories

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(This section was prepared by Ishida Kentarou Mitsumasa of An Tir for a previous incarnation of this class.)

Bukan Sokutai: formal court wear for the military official. Includes several layers and tops with a hoeki no hou.

Bunkan Sokutai: formal court wear for the civil official. Includes several layers and tops with a hoeki no hou.

Dobuku: a short, open-fronted jacket. Forerunner of the modern haori. Could have sleeves or be sleeveless.

Hakama: blanket term for pants. They have slits along the sides, and are secured with ties that attach to the front and back.

Hitatare: an overgarment with two-panel body width and large sleeves.

Hitoe (Unlined): an unlined robe worn beneath hou, noushi, and kariginu. Usually orange-red or pale green.

Hoeki no Hou: an extremely formal outergarment worn with sokutai. It has long and wide sleeves and a round Chinese collar that closes with a frog. Fabric and color were set by sumptuary laws.

Kamishimo: literally “upper-lower”. Refers to any outfit that has a matched overgarment and hakama.

Kariginu (“hunting robe”): an overgarment with two-panel sleeves, a one-panel body, and a round standing collar. Heian kuge wore it for informal occasions such as traveling or hunting.

Kataginu: A hitatare without sleeves. When worn, it looks something like a modern vest.

Kikutoji: decorative circular constructions of thread that often were used to embellish suikan.

Kimono (“Thing to wear”): The term starts to become standard usage for kosode in the 19th century as a way to differentiate Japanese clothing from Western dress.

Kosode (“Small sleeves”): A robe with overlapping panels in the front and sleeves with small hand openings and rounded corners. It begins as an undergarment in the Heian period and eventually evolves into middle and outer garments. Precursor of the kimono.

Noushi: a garment nearly identical in cut to but less formal than the hoeki no hou.

Sashinuki: hakama that are meant to blouse over the leg and expose the foot. They are one and a half to two times longer than a normal hakama, and have ties at the hem that are used to suspend the hakama on the wearer’s legs.

Shitabakama: an underwear layer hakama, usually unpleated.

Suikan: an overgarment similar to a kariginu, but with a collar fastening made of cord intead of a frog. It is shorter than a kariginu, and is worn inside the hakama instead of outside.

Yoroi Hitatare: a hitatare kamishimo made for wearing underneath armor.


Gasa: a generic term for straw hats

Geta: sandals carved out of wood, usually with teeth (“ha”) on the bottom. Excellent for negotiating rainy, muddy roads or puddling water in the bath house.

Himo: ties. A strip of fabric used to keep inner robe layers in place.

Kyahan: leggings, often worn by travelers or used to keep hakama legs from blousing outward.

Obi: Sash. Pre-Edo period men’s obi are 3” to 5” wide. They hold kosode, kataginu, and hitatare layers in place, as well as provide a place to seat swords.

Sensu: a folding fan.

Tabi: Split toed socks. Period tabi have ties rather than kohaze (hook and eye closures)

Tekko: a sort of handless glove, worn by working women or travelers to protect the forearm from scratches.

Waraji: woven straw sandals that tie onto the foot. (Generally worn by peasants, soldiers.)

Zori: woven straw sandals.

 Copyright 2015 Tom Lapille

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