The Art of the Kimono
"Kimono" is an all-inclusive word that has come to be applied to the distinctive form of Japanese dress worn by women since the middle ages. "Kimono" include kosode ("small sleeved") garments, furisode (swinging sleeves), and the nuihaku, karaori, and atsuita of the traditional court drama, the No theater. The Museum's collection includes eighteenth- and nineteenth-century kosode and furisode that would have been worn by noble samurai women and wealthy women of the merchant class, patterned with tie-dyed motifs (shibori), embroidery, weft-patterning, stenciling, and handpainting. Its famous collection of No costume includes sumptuous examples of gold-leafed and embroidered nuihaku and weft-patterned and tie-dyed karaori, worn for women's roles in the No drama. The atsuita on the north wall is the only example in the room of a kimono-style garment worn for male roles. Becauses No costumes usually reflect the styles of ancient court life, this atsuita shows that men as well as women in earlier periods also wore elaborate and colorful kimono.
Today men rarely wear kimono; when they do, these garments are usually of undecorated black silk. For ceremonial occasions, festivals, and especially weddings, young girls, geishas, and brides may wear furisode, whose long sleeves flutter out behind them as they move; married women and older women always wear the small-sleeved kosode.