History and Clothing in Ancient Japan

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Japanese history includes alternating periods of isolation and revolutionary influences from the rest of the world. As early as the Jomon period of about 14,000 to 300 BC, Japan had a hunter-gatherer lifestyle; wooden houses on stilts, dwelling with pit and agriculture. The weaving was still unknown and the old Japanese garment was fur. However, some of the world's oldest pottery is found in Japan, with daggers, jade, seashell combs and clay figurines.

Bronze making influenced by China and Korea. Chinese travelers describe men "with braided hair, tattoos, and women with large, one-piece clothes." At first, ancient Japanese clothing consisted of one garment. Ancient and Classical Japan begins from the middle of the 3rd century to 710. An advanced agricultural and militarist culture defines this period. In 645, Japan quickly adopted Chinese practices and reorganized its penal code.

The era of ancient Japan and its imperial court ranges from 794 to 1185. Art, poetry, literature, and commercial expeditions continue with vigor. The warlords and powerful regional families ruled over ancient Japan from 1185 to 1333 and the emperor was only a figurehead. By the Japanese Middle Ages, Portugal had introduced firearms by a fortuitous landing of their ship on the Japanese coast; the loading rates of samurai have been reduced; Trade with the Netherlands, England and Spain had opened new avenues. Several missionaries had also entered Japan.

Distinct lifestyle features, ancient Japanese clothing and women are hard to decipher for the simple reason that it is superimposed on Chinese culture. Ancient Japan has easily adopted other cultures and practices and most of its own culture is lost among these adaptations.

Ancient Japanese clothing was mostly unisex, with differences in color, length, and sleeves. A kimono tied with an obi or belt around the waist was the general garment and with the advent of Western clothing, they are now mostly worn at home or on special occasions. Obi women in ancient Japanese clothing would be mainly elaborate and decorative. Some would be as long as 4 meters and tied like a flower or a butterfly. Although a Yukata means a "bathing suit", these were often worn during summers like morning and morning gowns. Ancient Japanese clothing consisted of mena and women wearing a Haori coat or a narrow coat for special occasions such as weddings and parties. These are worn on a kimono and tied with strings at the chest.

The most interesting piece of the ancient Japanese garment is the ju-ni-hitoe or the "twelve layers" adorned with ladies at the imperial court. It is multilayered and very heavy and worn daily for centuries! The only change would be the thickness of the fabric and the number of layers depending on the season. The princesses still wear them at weddings.

Since the Japanese do not wear shoes at home, tabi is always worn. These are slit socks woven of non-stretch materials with thick soles. Hooves were worn for centuries in ancient Japan and were known as Geta. These were wooden with two straps and were unisexual. Zori was a shoe made of softer materials like straw and fabric with a flat sole. There is an honest curiosity to find out more, to wear kimonos or to use silk fabrics with beautiful floral prints from the "Land of the Rising Sun".

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Source by Christopher Schwebius

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