Friday, 29 August 2014

Some Popular Kimono Motifs Part 4: The Japanese Dragon

Dragon Yukata
Dragon with three claws

The Japanese dragon is a  mythological creature popular in Japanese culture. It and other Oriental dragons, unlike their Western equivalents, are depicted as much more serpentine and are often associated with rain and water. Oriental dragons also lack wings but as magical beings were able to fly by magic. You can recognize a Japanese dragon by the number of claws it has, Japanese dragons having just three. The Japanese believed that all dragons originated in Japan and the further away from Japan you traveled the more claws the dragon would have (for instance Korean dragons are depicted with 4 claws!)

Dragon Kimono
Namiryu or Sea Dragon

Unlike the evil dragons of Western culture, Eastern dragons were seen as noble creatures with some even having roles as protectors. Their images are often seen as statues outside temples and shrines particularly in the form of water features.

Click here to view Japanya's dragon related products!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Some Popular Kimono Motifs Part 3: The Cherry Blossom

japanya kimonoFlowers, a major feature of kimono design, are used to represent different seasons of the year. A kimono designed with cherry blossoms would traditionally be worn in spring or summer.  (A kimono with a maple leaf design would be worn in the autumn and a kimono designed with bamboo, pine trees or plum blossoms would be worn in winter.)

hanamiThe cherry blossom or sakura, frequently depicted in Japanese Art and on Japanese goods, is perhaps one of the best known symbols of Japan. The significance of the beautiful but fragile cherry blossom goes back hundreds of years, with the cherry blossom season an annual visual reminder of a major theme in Buddhism that life is beautiful but only transient.

kokeshi doll
Hanami, which translates as "flower viewing", is a significant part of the Japanese calendar. Although originally referring to the viewing of plum (ume) - which blooms slightly earlier than cherry - hanami now commonly refers to mainly cherry blossom viewing. During the cherry blossom season many Japanese people take picnics and drink sake under the blooming cherry blossom trees.

Click here to view some of our products that feature Cherry Blossom.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Some Popular Kimono Motifs Part 2: The Japanese Crane

The crane or tsuru is a very popular image in Oriental Art and kimono design and is also a favourite subject for origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Fabled to have a life span of a thousand years, the crane is regarded as a symbol of good fortune and longevity. Mating cranes or a pair of cranes also represent fidelity.
origami earrings
Origami Crane Earring

The origami crane (orizuru) is perhaps best known nowadays as a symbol of international peace. Its status as a symbol of peace derives from the story of  Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese school girl living in Hiroshima, who was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after the end of World War II. Inspired by a Japanese legend, which promises anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish, Sadaki set out to fold 1000 cranes in the hope of gaining  health, happiness and world peace.

Red kimono

We have several products featuring cranes including kimono gowns, greetings cards and furoshiki wrapping cloths.  In addition, you may like to try your hand at making an origami crane with some of our beautiful origami papers.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Some Popular Kimono Motifs Part 1: Koi

In Japan, koi or carp are seen as powerful spirited fish with the energy and determination to swim upstream against strong currents and even small waterfalls.  According to Chinese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the waterfalls at a point on the Yellow River called Dragon Gate, it would be transformed into a powerful dragon. The koi, therefore, as well as being associated with strength and determination, has come to symbolise the will to improve.

Koi cotton kimono
Koi Cotton Kimono
carp streamersThe koi’s positive traits are recognised as important values for children to have and for this reason on Children’s Day (formerly known as Boys' Day) koinobori (carp streamers) are raised, a black koi for father, red koi for mother, blue and green (and sometimes orange and purple) for children.

Koi are very popular images in Oriental Art, clothing and tattoos. Our blue Koi Cotton Kimono is available in lengths to fit heights from approximately 5'6" up to 6'5".  If you need any information regarding sizing please do not hesitate to contact us ( Like many Japanese words koi is a homophone. The word for koi meaning carp is written with the kanji 鯉. Another Japanese word alsopronounced koi but written with a differnt kanji 恋,  can be translated as "love" or "affection".  So why not buy someone you love one of our koi yukata!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Kimono Gown Sizing

We have posted information regarding how to choose the size of your Japanya kimono gown in the past.  This previous post was illustrated with one of our men's yukata.  Here we illustrate sizing using one of our women's yukata.

Choosing the size of your kimono gown is generally based on height with our recommendation being that you choose a gown of 10-13" less than your height.  The length of gown you choose will also very much be based on your own preference with many customers preferring to wear a shorter gown rather than a longer one. The image below illustrates how a person of 5'7" would look in gowns of 54", 56" or 58" length.

Kimono Gown Sizing
Japanya Kimono Sizing

In the above example of a person of average build and height 5'7" we would recommend the 56" gown (that is one 11" shorter than the height).  However, the 54" gown would also be suitable especially for someone who would prefer to wear a gown slightly above the ankle. The 58" gown would perhaps suit a person with a fuller figure or if the gown is to be worn in a traditional manner, with a wide obi, excess fabric could be folded up at the waist.

Nemaki Kimono

Nemaki, meaning "sleep" and "wear" in Japanese is a type of yukata lined with a thin layer of cotton gauze. The gauze softens with washing making the nemaki very comfortable to wear. Traditionally, women's nemaki are made with a floral often blue and white patterned material whereas men's nemaki are usually of a geometric design, also in blue and white.

We are not able to stock a wide range of nemaki, as our kimono makers/suppliers do not routinely make nemaki.  Indeed in Japan nemaki have a slightly negative image as they are associated with hospitals and the older generation!  Currently we stock an edo stripe nemaki in dark blue - this is very different form the ready-made designs available elsewhere  -  that we have had custom made for us in Tokyo.

Lined Kimono
Edo Stripe Nemaki