What is junihitoe?
Even in modern times, junihitoe is worn as formal attire for women, as seen on hina dolls and at a Shinto-style wedding. It was originally the costume for ceremonies or formal attire in the Heian period. You might be wondering that it would be very heavy and hard to walk in twelve layers of kimono, as its name indicates (“juni” means “twelve”, and “hitoe” means “unlined kimono”). So what is junihitoe?……In this article, you will learn what it really is, including the history of junihitoe.
Junihitoe did not exist in the Heian period?
We mentioned that junihitoe was formal attire in the Heian period, but now it is revealed that it didn’t exactly exist at that time; what does it mean? Actually, the word “junihitoe” did not exist in the Heian period. At that time, it was called nyobo shozoku (costume for women serving in the inner palace). It was only in the Kamakura period that the word “junihitoe” started to be used to signify nyobo shozoku (the Kamakura period comes after the Heian period!).
The formal name for junihitoe is “itsutuginu karaginu mo( 五衣唐衣裳)”. Junihitoe is a colloquial term!
Are there really twelve layers of kimono in junihitoe?
We call it junihitoe, but are there really twelve layers of kimono to be worn? In fact, the number “twelve” only signifies “abundance” and does not address twelve layers of kimono. So where does the number “twelve” come from?
Apparently, the number “twelve” means that by layering kimono, the gradation of colors on the collar and at the hem would be vivid and beautiful, and was used because the word “juni (twelve)” sounded lovely and rhythmical. The number of kimono to be layered depended in each case! The record states that sixteen layers of kimono were worn tops.
Junihitoe is very heavy!
A layer of kimono is unlined and light, but when you layer them, it would be heavy. Junihitoe looks very heavy to the eye, but how much does it really weigh? It is said that it was approximately 20 kg!!
As you have to layer kimono on top of another kimono, the wearer would feel very hot when wearing it. One theory holds that the women in the Heian period treasured junihitoe as protection against cold in harsh and freezing winter.
Well, winter is coming to Japan and days will get colder and colder. Why not experience the warmth and the heaviness of junihitoe yourself?
Facilities that can have a Junihitoe experience in Kyoto
Let’s take pictures wearing real Junihitoe makeup and Kimono!! It will definitely be a once in a life experience for you!