The Traditional Clothing in Korea and Japan

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  • Topic: Kimono, Hanbok, National costume
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  • Published : November 28, 2010
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The Traditional Clothing in Korea and Japan

Every country in this world has its own traditional cultures and clothes. Have you ever heard of the two treasures in Asia, which are very valuable and beautiful? They are the traditional clothing in Korea and Japan. The traditional clothing in Korea is called the ‘hanbok’; where else the traditional clothing in Japan is the ‘kimono’. Both of them are very delicate and have their own long histories. As Japan and Korea are closely located in Asia, it is no wonder that they share certain similarities in the characteristics of their traditional costume but at the same time, there are also some differences that could be seen here.

Firstly, we could all have a look at the similarities and differences at the origins of the hanbok and kimono wear. How exactly did the hanbok and the kimono come about? During the Han dynasty in China, the ancient Chinese dress which is called the ‘hanfu’, was the origin of the Korean hanbok and the Japanese kimono. The hanfu dress was one of the most prominent ancient Chinese dresses. This clothing was worn by the common folk of the Han ethnic group of China. It was cited that “The Hanfu laid the base for the development of the Japanese kimono, Vietnamese ao dai and the Korean hanbok.” (Ancient Chinese Dress, n.d.).

Like any other clothing, the hanbok and the kimono have undergone many changes over the years with fluctuating fashion trends and undergoing many transformations. In order to appeal to the modern age and the international eye, some individuals have come up with fresh designs but still retaining the essence of the traditional clothing. Korean designer Bae Yong Jin said that although she is famous with designing traditional Korean garments, “I don’t want to simply make typical traditional clothes. I want to change and evolve traditional Korean garments so they can appeal to this age in time.” Thus, when designing clothes, she sticks to simple styles and simple colours such as black and white as bright colours with complex designs do not appeal to the market. The same goes to Japanese designer Jotaro Saito, who is helping to bring back the kimono into the 21st century. He designs modern patterns that gave very chic and stylish garments to popularise the kimono among the Japanese younger generation. His collection also includes kimonos made from Japanese denim.

However, the existence of both the traditional clothes in each country is different. Many people in Korea still own their hanbok and they normally wear it for various occasions. In fact, most Koreans have more than one hanbok in their possession. On the other hand, this cannot be said the same for the kimono in Japan. In other words, the existence of the kimono is fast disappearing now. A few people have their own kimono and they do not put it on very often. They are normally stored away and only be taken out to use once in a while. Besides, the younger generation nowadays are more interested with the modern and trendy Japanese street fashion. This is indeed a serious problem in Japan as the declining number of kimono usage shows a sign of a loss in the traditional Japanese culture. Next, the design of the hanbok and kimono itself are alike and different as well. Both the clothing consists of two pieces of clothes. The traditional women’s hanbok consist of a ‘jeogori’ and a ‘chima.’ Basically, a jeogori is a blouse-like shirt or a jacket and the chima is a wrap-around skirt. This ensemble which is often called as ‘chima jeogori’ is normally worn full. As for the men’s hanbok, it also consists of a jeogori and baggy pants which is called ‘baji.’ Similarly, the kimono for women which is also made up of two clothing has the ‘hadajuban’, and then followed by a kimono of any kind. A hadajuban is considered as the undergarment worn in the kimono attire. After donning the hadajuban, the kimono will be put on according to the occasion. Examples of some...
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