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Glossary of terms

Bokashi Dyeing is a method of dyeing silk with a brush on wet silk to get a gradation of a single color or multiple colors.  There is a similar process in Japanese woodblock printing. See photo of an example below.

Brocade weave is a weave that mimics embroidery with a raised pattern created by adding additional weft threads to the weave.  These additional threads have an “untidy” appearance on the reverse side of the fabric, unlike damask weave which has a finished appearance on both sides of the fabric. 

Chirimen Silk  is a plain-woven silk crêpe made of high twist raw silk yarn. It is a soft fabric that doesn't crease easily, and its signature crimped surface texture is what distinguishes chirimen from other silks. 

Crepe Silk is a plain-woven silk made from tightly twisted fibers.  Crepe silk comes in different weights and textures, including chirimen silk, omeshi silk, and kinsha silk.

Damask Weave creates a smooth silk with a tone-on-tone repeating pattern with geometric or floral composition.  The threads are dyed before they are woven.  The name comes from the city of Damascus which is early hub of distribution of good from the East to the West.  Rinzu silk is a very fine Japanese silk with a damask weave.  See the photo of examples below.

Dochugi are casual kimono jackets typically worn by artisans, shop keepers, and workers. They feature a cross-over closure in the front, secured with fabric ties. 

Doro Oshima Tsumugi is a smooth, luxury, ikat silk from the Kagoshima prefecture where mud or other natural material is used to dye the threads.  These are usually found in browns or blue-blacks.

Furisode Kimono is the most formal kimono worn by unmarried, young women.  Furisode means “swinging sleeves” which are exceptionally long, often falling to a women’s knees and below. They are colorful and elaborate, designed to make the woman noticed.  See the photo of an example above.

Ginsai is the application of silver leaf to fabric.

Green fashion aims to decrease the social and environmental impact of apparel production and consumption.  The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters globally. It has a large carbon footprint and contributes massively to waste accumulation and pollution.  Green fashion is socially and environmentally responsible and sustainable.  Kiku is engaged in green fashion by upcycling and re-using old  Japanese silk garments.

Heavier weight.  All silk is considered a light weight fabric.  The terms light weight, regular weight and heavier weight are used as subjective, comparative terms as to the overall weight and feel of a Kiku garment.  Regular weight is the average with light and heavier being more meaningful terms and being more clearly distinguishable.  A heavier weight garment might be a shibori silk with an extra lining attached to the shibori fabric, a garment that has a lot of woven metallic thread or urushi , or a high ranking kimono that has a lot of embroidery, gold outlining and other decorations that add weight and heft or a very thick tsumugi fabric.

Habutae silk is also known as China silk, though it originated in Japan.  It has a very plain weave and comes in different weights.  It is a light weight, soft, smooth silk that has a high formality ranking.

Hakkake is the lower panels of the kimono lining.  In high ranking kimono, the hakkake often includes hand painted scenes and other designs.  

Haori  An haori is a type of outer jacket which is worn outdoors and well as indoors by men and women.  An haori adds formality when worn by a man.  

Homongi or Houmongi Kimono is a formal to semi-formal kimono that can be worn by married or unmarried women.  Because the design crosses the seams as if painted or designed after construction, only highly skilled artisans can make a homongi kimono.  The homongi is a high ranked kimono in recognition of this skill. Homongi means “visiting wear”.   

Ikat  is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to weaving the fabric. Japanese examples include meisen, kasuri, omeshi, oshima,  and tsumugi silks.

Juban is an underrobe worn by men and women that protects the more valuable outer kimono.  The Japanese  aesthetic sense applies the same artisanship and painstaking attention to detail to jubans and other  hidden garments as for those outer garments which are on display.  

Kiku means chrysanthemum which is Japan’s national flower.  It is also the symbol of the Japanese royal throne.  As a result it is often used as decoration on Japanese silks.  We selected the name Kiku for our company in homage to these Japanese traditions.

Kimono  Kimono means clothing or clothes, especially traditional Japanese garments, including haori, obi, juban, etc. . Like the English word “clothing”, one does not add an “s”. The Western understanding is more narrow and generally means the iconic woman’s long outer robe.  Kiku uses “kimono” in both senses.

Kinsai is the application of gold leaf to fabric.  In earlier centuries, Japan was known for its gold resources and there was national pride in applying it to silk.

Kinsha silk  is a very high quality, light weight, fluid silk which is a lighter  variation of chirimen. It is rarely produced today. 

Komon Kimono is a more casual, every day kimono with a repeating design throughout.  Usually the pattern does not have a direction to accommodate the absence of a shoulder seam whereby the uncut fabric runs up one side and then down the other.  If the pattern does have a direction and changes at the shoulder, it becomes a more formal kimono.   The design can be by any method, including woven patterns, prints, stencilled patterns in alternating orientations, free hand painting (yūzen) or tie-dye patterns (shibori). See the example in the photo above.

Kosode.  Kosode means small sleeves and was a unisex, functional robe that was the forerunner of today's kimono.  It originated during the Heian period (794-1185) and was the universal dress for men and women in all levels of society through much of the Edo period (1603-1868).

Light weight.  All silk is considered a light weight fabric.  The terms light weight, regular  weight and heavier weight are used as subjective, comparative terms as to the overall weight and feel of a Kiku garment.  Regular  weight is the average weight of a lined robe or jacket, with light and heavier weight being more meaningful terms and being more clearly distinguishable.   Light weight robes and jackets might be unlined, or made from summer silk, kinsha silk or habutae silk.   Light weight silk garments are very versatile because they can be worn in all seasons, including warm ones and as a result a premium is placed on their value.  

Matelasse is a form of weaving that emulates puffy quilting. 

Mattainai is a Japanese term that has several meanings: 1) bad behavior towards someone of higher rank, 2) an expression of gratitude for something awe-inspiring or undeserved and 3) regret over something discarded unnecessarily.  It is the last definition that is the most common and it is used as an entreaty not to waste things, to give things respect through re-use and  recycling.   Kiku embraces the concepts of mattainai, of green fashion that upcycles garments that have fallen out of use, as well as the sense of gratitude and awe for the beauty of the works of art.

Meisen Silk uses durable spun-silk.  Meisen literally means “common silk stuff” and it was the machine loomed silk from tsumugi silk that the ordinary/ non-noble people wore once the restrictions on who could wear silk was lifted in the late 19th century.  Often meisen silk has a crisper feel and less drape than a crepe silk,, though well worn meisen can have  the soft feel of cotton. The meisen designs are generally non-traditional and bold which is the reason meisen is still so highly valued. Most meisen silk was produced before World War I and therefore meisen silk in good condition is hard to find. 

Michiyuki Jacket is a more modern outer jacket for women that usually has a square top and false buttons with snaps.  The cut is relatively straight and narrow. 

Mon or  Kamon is the emblem or family crest previously  used only by the nobility and samurai warriors.  Today any family can create a mon..   There are several registries on the web so you can look up the mon that you find on your Kiku garment.

Nagagi kimono is a men’s long, ankle length kimono.  Men wear long kimono tied with a soft silk obi.

Nenneko  or Neneko  is a larger sized jacket with cross ties worn by a woman over a baby riding on her back.  “Nene” is baby talk for sleep. 

Obi is a sash worn by women and men over their kimono.  There are many types of obi, made from different materials, in differing widths and lengths. 

Obiage is an accessory sash worn under a wide, stiff, woman’s obi, such as a fukuro, Nagoya or maru obi, that supports the tied bow in the back.  Like the jubans, obiage often show wonderful designs and artisanship even though they are hidden from view when worn.  These sash scarves can be worn around the neck, or the waist, or as a hair band.

Omeshi Silk is  woven with strongly twisted pre-dyed threads and was often worn in the Imperial Court.  It is considered the highest rank quality among kimono silk textiles made with pre-dyed threads (Ikat). The pattern is the same on both sides and the finish is very smooth with a low gloss.

Oshima Tsumugi is a Ikat plain woven silk where the threads are pre-dyed using plant dies.  The weaving is a complex Ikat weave which is regionally based.  The silks are soft and hard to wrinkle and have subtle and subdued tones.  

Regular  Weight.  All silk is considered a light weight fabric.  The terms light weight, regular weight and heavier weight are used as subjective, comparative terms as to the overall weight and feel of a Kiku garment.  Regular  weight is the average weight of a lined jacket or robe, with light and heavier weight being more clearly distinguishable from each other.  Most kiku robes and jackets are  regular  weight as a lined garment made from an average weight silk fabric.  

Rinzu Silk is a smooth silk with a tone-on-tone figured, damask-like woven design. Often used as the backdrop for more elaborate decoration.

Slow Fashion is the counter to today’s quick and disposable fashion. It takes into consideration all aspects of the supply chain, and shows respect for the human labor and the environment.  The clothing is high quality and of a timeless design that is intended to be worn for years to come. Kiku is engaged in slow fashion by upcycling high quality Japanese silks whose t-shaped designs have been used for centuries.  Kiku refashions each piece individually, focusing on quality and limited human resources, rather than mass production.

Summer Ro Silk is a light weight silk where there are skipped rows, allowing for great breathability.  The drape of ro summer silk is generally softer  than sha summer silk.  Because of the construction, this is a semi-sheer fabric.  Ro and sha summer silk are highly valued because of their unique characteristics.  Modern Japanese often wear cotton yukata and summer silks because of the convenience and comfort of each; as a result vintage summer silk kimono and haori in good condition are harder to find than other types of kimono.  

Summer Sha Silk is a light weight silk that is constructed like a type of netting.  Often the warp is one color thread and the weft  is another color, resulting in a fascinating shimmer with the inside of the garment being one color and the outside another.  Sha silk often uses a brocade design in patches; it can be stiffer with less drape than ro silk. Because of the construction, this is a semi-sheer fabric that is very breathable.  Ro and sha summer silk are highly valued because of their unique characteristics.  Modern Japanese often wear cotton yukata and summer silks because of the convenience and comfort of each; as a result vintage summer silk kimono and haori in good condition are harder to find than other types of kimono. 

Shibori is a manual tie-dying technique where different forms of resistance are used to block or prevent the dye from penetrating. There are six primary methods: kanoko (string tied), miura (looped binding), kumo (pleated and bound resist), nui (running stitch), arashi (pole wrapping), itajiime (shaped-resist).   The majority of the Kiku shibori is kanoko where each “bump” has been hand tied to create the resulting design.See Shibori Blog

Shigoki obi  are made of a soft, single piece of fabric that is tied at the bottom of, or below, the normal obi.  Originally, they were used by women to tie up their kimono for going outside and preventing the hem from getting soiled.  Today, they are a standard part of the outfit for 7-year-old girls during the shichi-go-san ceremony.  They are usually lucky or youthful colors, such as red or bright green.  They usually have tassels at the end and are purely decorative.  Sometimes women will wear them as well for an extra flair of style. 

Tomesode Kimono is a high ranked kimono worn only by married women and widows to formal affairs.  It is usually black and the decoration is limited to the hem area.  It may have from one to five mons or family crests, the number of which will determine the kimono’s social ranking.  See the example in the photo above.. 

Tsumugi silk uses short fibered silk made from the second or third grade of silk cocoons. It can have the rough knobby feel of raw silk or it can be highly polished and soft feel or an oshima tsumugi or the crispness of a meisen silk.

Tsukesage Kimono is less formal than a homongi kimono and more formal than komon kimono.  The design is usually in panels that do not continue across seams but the direction of the pattern will change at the shoulder  so there is no “upside down” as with komon kimono.  That said, the design of a tsukesage kimono may be so similar to a  homongi kimono that is very hard to distinguish them. 

Urushi is a form of weaving with metallic or lacquered thread. See an example in the photo below.

Yukata Kimono is a cotton kimono that remains very popular and in use in Japan because it is light weight and can be machine washed.  It is worn to casual events. 

Yuzen is hand painting on fabric.  The painting is generally done on the bolt of fabric before the silk is cut and stitched at the seams.  The seamless flow of the painting across the seams requires a great deal of skill, resulting in the kimono being ranked high.  See the example in the photo below.