The Japanese are some of the most fashionable dressers in the world. Fashion, appearance and personal grooming are very important to a lot of men and women. Street fashion in the major urban areas is copied throughout Asia and what is seen on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka is comparable to that of New York and London.
The four seasons are quite distinctive, so clothing requirements for each season vary widely, with type of material, color, and style being the main considerations. Everyday clothes are practically the same as those worn in North America and Europe. The demands of modern everyday life give little opportunity to wear the traditional kimono. However, it is still regularly seen at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies.
Consumers have a wide variety of clothing to choose from – items made in Japan, luxury brands from Europe and the US, and relatively inexpensive clothes from other Asian countries. Buying decisions depend on personal budgets and purpose.
If you require larger sized clothing, living outside of a major city may be difficult. For shoes, stores generally carry stock in sizes up to US 10/26 cm. Clothing is generally stocked up to size L and sometimes XL in men’s ranges. Many non-Japanese find that, although they fit the Japanese sizes, they often struggle to find garments with long enough sleeves or legs. Larger sized shoes and clothing are generally found only in shops catering to those needs. You may find it is more useful to shop online.
Workwear and Uniforms
A businessman will almost always wear a gray, brown, or navy blue suit and a necktie when at work or traveling, although this is hardly compulsory. A businesswoman has relatively greater leeway in choosing her outfit, from a suit to something more casual. Her choices will depend on the type of business she is in. Navy blue and other conservative colors give the appearance of neatness and efficiency, so these are favored.
Factory workers, technicians, laborers in the transportation and retail industries, and store clerks customarily wear work uniforms.
Many schools also insist on uniforms – one for summer and one for winter. Uniforms for junior and senior high school students throughout the country tend to adopt the same type of design – high collared jackets for boys and “sailor” suits for girls. An increasing number of private schools in urban areas have their students wear blazers. Rules for elementary children depend on the region, with some insisting on a uniform and others not. In many elementary schools, students wear a uniform during physical education classes.
Whenever we think about Japanese traditional clothing, the first thing that springs to mind is the kimono. There are many types of kimono, depending on the age of the wearer, the occasion, and the season.
Unfortunately, modern living in Japan affords very few opportunities to wear kimono. Only a very small percentage of elderly women wear it on outings or when relaxing at home. Despite this, traditional clothing for women is still common at weddings, funerals, and other events of a religious or social nature. For example, students wear a hakama at their graduation ceremonies, and women may wear a cotton yukata during summer festivals. Young women are apt to wear a colorful kimono to Coming of Age ceremonies, and many women wear a kimono to shrines on New Year’s Day. On these occasions, young people have a number of incentives for wearing traditional attire – to find out more about clothing unique to Japanese culture, to heighten the feeling of a “special” day, and to bestow upon the event a stronger impression for future memories.
The kimono embodies many aspects of Japanese aesthetic culture, notably ancient practices of weaving, sewing, and embroidery. Recently, these traditional methods have been given a modern touch and western style while still using the materials and sewing techniques seen in traditional kimono. Thus, in some cases, the unique and aesthetic aspects of the kimono are being adapted to suit current sensibilities.