Survey of Practical Japanese Garments

These garments are from mid to late period of the Japanese middle ages. That corresponds to Kamakura Period beginning in 1192 to Azuichi-Momoyama Period ending in 1603. In Japan, the fabric was narrow width about 18" wide. Because the fabric was narrow, clothing was constructed with multiple narrow panels sewn together lengthwise. In Edo period the fabric width was standardized to the modern even narrower width of 14".

The two most common garments are the kosode, short or long, and the hakama. I will discuss those two garments in a little more detail.


Kosode means small sleeve. Actually, it means small sleeve opening. It is the precursor to the modern kimono. It is not the same thing as a kimono and is not the same cut. The general differences are wider neckband and a more generous cut in the body. The kosode was an under-garment or peasant garment that became the common garment for even the upper class as time went on.

Some other points

I am wearing a patterned uchikake over a blue kosode, over a white under kosode. The kosode is tied with an obi. The uchikake is a decorative top layer that has a longer body, a wider body panel, and narrower sleeve panel in proportion to the body panel, and has a wider neckband. You can see on the blue kosode how far down the body the neckband goes. Modern kimono neckbands do not go that far down.

kosode with uchikake
long kosode

Short Kosode with Hakama

Same garment and a little shorter makes the top to this outfit.

short kosode with hakama


Hakama are wide pleated flowing pants or a pleated skirt. Both variations are correct. I have pictures of both. These pictures of an outfit in the costume museum show good detail of the pleats, the side v-opening and how the himo or waistband is tied.

Hakama and Kataginu Momoyama period
V opening at the side and back view

Some other points

Matching Kosode and Hakama Outfits

My husband and I are wearing matching kosode and hakama outfits. However, my hakama is a hakama skirt. You can't really tell it's a skirt and it is easier to deal with in a port-a-john.

matching kosode and hakama outfits

Short Kosode with Mobakama

Instead of a hakama skirt you can wear a mobakama, a wrap-around pleated skirt.

short kosode with mobakama

Long Kosode, Hakama, Kosode, and Kataginu

Baroness Hildarun is wearing long kosode over white under kosode tied with an obi. Baron Brandubh is wearing just a white kosode under the kataginu vest and the hakama pants.

baronial japanese outfits

Hakama, Kosode, and Kataginu

In this outfit, Ishiyama has the lower legs of the hakama wrapped with kyahan. These are good for keeping the fabric in the legs from getting in the way. He is wearing white kosode under the patterned kosode and the Kataginu vest with the ensemble.

hakama, kosode, and kataginu

Mompe and Hippari

Mompe or field pants are simple and less flowing. They also don't take much fabric. Hippari or a field top is post-period, but it uses less fabric and more confortable in the summer. The ties at the waist make it easier to keep the front closed without having to tuck your top in or wearing an obi. I found the folkwear pattern for these were very easy. Folkwear Japanese Field Clothing Pattern

mompe and hippari


The dobuku was a middle-class garment that was adopted by Samurai. Think of it as a sport coat. It can be lined, lined and padded, or unlined. The top picture shows an unlined dobuku that I made for chilly but not too cold evenings.

unpadded dobuku

This dobuku isn't fancy, but it is silk body, silk lining, and cotton batting inside so it is warm. You can see it is a simple layout. There are no overlaps. There are the two body panels, the two sleeves and a neckband. The neckband comes straight down from the neck opening. The lining has two body panels and two sleeves, but not a neckband. John Marshall's book Make Your Own Japanese Clothes has very good instructions and pictures of how to construct lined garments.

padded dobuku

These were our first fancy Japanese outfits. The padded jackets aren't quite right, but they looked good. Ishiyama is wearing hakama pants and I am wearing hakama skirt. You can't tell that it is a skirt.

first fancy japanese outfits


Hapi is another post-period garment that is useful especially in evening or morning at Pennsic when it is a little chilly. It is the same sort of cut as the dobuku around the neck, but the sleeve is just a tube sleeve and only goes to the forearm not the wrist.



There are all sorts of accessories. These are some of the common ones you see people wearing:


Oribe Tsukime's research and publications. Retrieved: June 16, 2022

Ishiyama Gen'tarou Yori-ie Japanese men's garments. Retrieved: June 16, 2022

Kure, Mitsuo. Samurai Arms Armor Costume. Edison: Chartwell Books, Inc, 2007.

Marshall, John. Make Your Own Japanese Clothes. Kodansha International: New York, NY, 1988.

The History of Women's Costume in Japan. Art Books Shikosha Publishing: Japan, 2003.

Folkwear Patterns Japanese Hapi and Haori Pattern . Retrieved: June 16, 2022

Folkwear Patterns Japanese Field Clothing Pattern. Retrieved: June 16, 2022