The kimono, of course, does that thing that all kimonos generally do.
"Oh shit" I hear myself say.
And I would have thought, at my age, no single part of a woman could ever again be this simply breath-taking to behold.In Japan, kimono hold a very special place in people's hearts, and are a medium of a thousand symbols. For more information about kimono, see the useful notes. For its use as a visual cue for tradition, see Kimono Is Traditional. Kimono are also a specific type of Japanese Fetish Fuel, in ways not easily explained to the uninitiated. Firstly, people are expected not to wear western-style lingerie underneath, as a bra would ruin the bustline (which should be smooth), and pantylines are a definite no-no. Secondly, the whole body being wrapped in one lovely package typically spells out (in the case of a girl) "youthful", "innocent", "proper", "charming" and "eligible" in kimono code. Few people in Japan know enough about kimono to detect every nuance, but the message seems to trigger some subconscious level of understanding. The idea of getting to open up such a prettily-wrapped present thrills many a mind, similar to corsets. There's also the fact that, no matter how much of the body is covered, the Ultimate and Most Bewitchingly Sensual Mystery of the Female Body (i.e. the nape of the neck) is revealed for all to see. Add to that the long shape and restriction of the garment forcing one to adopt a lady-like elegance (or, for guys, a tall and dignified posture) and, well... what's not to like? Yukata are worn by nearly everyone in Japan come summertime and festivals. The feelings they awaken are rather similar to kimono. By nature, a yukata is relaxed home-wear (comparable to shorts and a tank top), and situations where one can wear it are very limited. A big part of the allure of summer festival or hot springs (filler) episodes in anime and manga is related to having the cast wear yukata. Because there's nothing underneath. On young children, the special fluffy yukata obi presents an excellent opportunity for extra big bows and super-cutesyfication. Kimono Fanservice comes in two types, which can and do overlap (please note that straight fanservice, where the garment simply happens to be a kimono, but could just as well be a bathrobe or a shirt or whatever, is simply fanservice.)
— Eveless Eden
A: Costume PornWhere the audience appreciates the garments themselves. Especially prevalent in period pieces. Can overlap with Awesome Anachronistic Apparel.
B: Pandering to the Base, Fetish Fuel (with/or mild Fanservice)Where the audience appreciates getting to see their favourite character in this specific dress. Unlike conventional fanservice, the amount of skin shown will be minimal. Caters to such fanservice tropes as (supposed) Going Commando, (hypothetical chance of) mixed Action Dress Rip and Show Some Leg, and maybe Sarashi. Especially in the case of geisha, a specific sexual plus is that the dress frames the nape of neck, which was the Japanese fixation before Western fashions became dominant. Due to its complexity and obscurity to modern, and foreign, folk, it's also constantly subjected to research failure-induced Unfortunate Implications (right flap over left means you are dead and soon to be cremated) and Accidental Innuendo (in modern era costumes, obi tied in front signify a working girl). Kimono wearing in itself has suffered from Trope Decay; a single man can be blamed for today's tubular kimono fashion, its rigid rules, and the death of the more fluid style of pre-WWII times. As per Rule of Cool, many of those rules get kicked out the door in fiction, and heroines won't get accused for "abusing a national symbol" by a mob of angry aunties. See Qipao for another type of "sexy Asian dress" used frequently in fiction. Please do not add examples of typical fanservice that just happen to contain a kimono (the kimono falling off or open, kimono used in the same way as a normal robe, etc) to this page. They should go on the Fanservice page.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Ichihara Yuuko from XxxHOLiC has stunning ensembles breaking every conceivable rule of kimono propriety, while remaining elegant and very stylish despite her... suggestive fashions.
- Also notable for a relatively normal teenage male protagonist example. The tradition is carried on by Watanuki after Yuuko's death.
- Iro Otoko centres around a designer who is trying to market fashionable men's kimonos, which isn't working very well for him. Both he and others models walk around in them to advertise, invoking this trope.
- Sakaki buys Yuki a kimono in Heart Strings in order to present him as a "yakuza wife." Very much fanservice.
- In Drug & Drop the main characters all wear yukata at one point and Kazahaya immediately begins complimenting the beautiful Kakei. Saiga, on the other hand, gets the opposite reaction as he looks like a nightclub worker wearing yukata and Sunglasses at Night.
- In Future Lovers while at a summer festival Kento starts talking about how pretty women in yukata are and his lover Akira makes a sulky comment about yukata not suiting him. This of course spawns an Imagine Spot of Akira in yukata that is actually a bit of a fanservice fail.
- Ai Yori Aoshi has the female lead always wearing a kimono. This is "justified" because her father owns the largest kimono manufacturing company, and it just wouldn't do if his daughter was seen wearing something besides a kimono made by her family.
- Fai's furisode in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
- Sumire Kanzaki does B2 var. Impossibly-Low Neckline in Sakura Wars.
- In Hidamari Sketch, a festival offers free snacks to those who come in yukata (and bring the flyer). Miyako, who doesn't have one, is ready to pull down her curtains to make one, but Hiro offers her old one with a Mahou Shoujo Minky print. It comes down to about a centimeter below her buttocks. She thinks it's a perfect fit, and Yuno and Hiro say it looks "cute" and "fashionable", respectively, though Sae privately thinks she looks like a hooker.
- In Lucky Star, at the festival, Konata muses that if they were in a Dating Sim, they'd trigger a flag because they're at a festival outside, wearing yukata.
- Nearly any manga and anime long enough features a summer festival episode/chapter, or a ryoukan/hot springs resort one, or both, with male members of the cast expressing gratitude for getting to see the ladies in yukata, and sometimes vice versa as well.
- Japan from Axis Powers Hetalia doesn't really fit this trope canon-wise, fitting Kimono Is Traditional better... but does fandom put him into yukata and kimono a lot more often than canon does? And use them to play up his Yamato Nadeshiko and/or Moe traits? You betcha.
- Played completely straight when Ukraine and Belarus were drawn in kimonos, as per fan request.
- Amasawa of The Weatherman Is My Lover has a cosplaying habit, so when the cast and crew of his program take a trip to an onsen, he brings along a female yukata. And I quote:
Amasawa: "Cute?"Koganei: "Yeah...I mean NO!"
- One of the scenes in a Code Geass game have the mainly European cast wearing kimonos. Hilariously, it even included the Meganekko who has... problems with the Japanese.
- Yumi from Rurouni Kenshin wears an off-the-shoulder kimono that should not logically stay up (a fact the author himself acknowledged when he got mail from cosplayers who attempted to replicate the look and failed). She is also a former prostitute.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei makes reference to the fact that a kimono would traditionally be worn without underwear, and the whole show is a massive example of type A, thriving in Awesome Anachronistic Apparel. Also, each tankobon features one of the female students in a kimono on the back cover.
- In the last chapters of InuYasha, Rin is seen receiving a kimono from Sesshoumaru. It's highly heartwarming.
- In Seitokai Yakuindomo Shino mentions traditional clothing while imagining a kimono-clad woman getting her obi unwrapped. But she points out that while she'd like to be in that position, she's worried about getting dizzy from the spinning.
- An omake image for Fullmetal Alchemist features Edward Elric doing kimono fanservice in both senses of the term.
- This trope played out in at least three episodes of Maicchingu Machiko Sensei. One episode featured the main character acting in a historical drama,another was set during the Lunar New Year, and the third took place during a festival. In keeping with the tradition of the anime, she lost her kimono every time.
- Ryougi Shiki of Kara no Kyoukai hardly ever wears anything else. And she kicks lots of ass, too.
- Cruelly and dramatically subverted in Oniisama e.... During a flashback, we see Kaoru Orihara wearing a yukata during a date with her boyfriend Takehiko Henmi, and she strips naked in front of him... to show him her physical scars after her breast cancer caused her to have a mastectomy. She then breaks up with him, because she doesn't want to be a load to her loved ones.
- Often occurs in festival episodes for the Pretty Cure series. May count more as a Type B than A, as the Cures often squeal about how a certain teammate looks good in a yukata.
- Ranma ½: Akane Tendo is forced into one of these in the manga. Due to the relationship between her and Ranma Saotome, Ranma lampshades this trope in a way that makes it a complimentary put-down.
Ranma: It suits you, Akane.Akane: Really?Ranma: Yes. For even overweight girls can look beautiful in kimonos such as the one you're wearing.
- Akane and other characters often wear lovely yukatas during festivals.
- Shakugan no Shana: Shana, a world-innocent Tsundere, sports a kimono during some festival episodes, and almost everyone both in and out-universe agree she's cute wearing it.
- In Gosick Kujo wears a men's kimono for an entire episode. A rare male example.
- In Mai-HiME, after Shizuru rescues Natsuki from Nao, she's seen wearing a purple kimono and gives Natsuki a light blue one. Shizuru continues wearing the kimono for most of her Psycho Lesbian rampage, but it eventually gets torn in places, and she changes back into her Student Council President uniform by the time Natsuki confronts her.
- While the Princesses in Princess Princess don Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion, Arisada notes that the style depends on who's in charge of the sewing club, and when he was a princess, his costumer preferred this trope, in equal parts Type A and Type B.
- The Type B is horribly subverted in Descendants of Darkness. In a flashback, Hisoka Kurosaki is seen wearing a dark kimono. Then it sexily falls off him. And then, what follows is the exact flashback to the time when Muraki raped Hisoka and cursed him into a Cruel and Unusual Death.
- After a Potty Failure in episode 6 Mayu from Death Parade changes into a kimono. Harada hits on her now that she isn't wearing a lot of makeup and looks more homely. She returns back to her normal attire next time we see her.
- The Tale of Genji includes pedantically detailed descriptions of about everything the characters wear. In addition to being Costume Porn, this also provided contemporary and history-savvy readers with loads of insight into the character's personalities. Most translations omit these descriptions for obvious reasons.
- The racier U.S. pulp stories of the Thirties would often have a Western character wearing a kimono as an "at-night but not actually in bed yet" garment; the fashion took a sudden nosedive in the Forties for reasons that should be obvious.
Live Action TV
- In a live action western male version, Blonde, a Marilyn Monroe biopic, is mostly notable for featuring Patrick Dempsey and Jensen Ackles in a threesome. It also is notable for having Ackles swishing around in a kimono, much to the pleasure of fangirls (and probably a few fanboys too).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy and Angel are walking out of a movie theatre looking rather tense after watching an erotic foreign film.
- The Hot-Spring Scramble DLC mission in Fire Emblem Awakening lets you see Lucina, Severa, Owain, and Inigo in yukata. Oh, and Anna.
- In Persona 3, on New Year's Day, when the girls are all wearing kimono, Junpei claims that every guy fantasizes about how there's nothing underneath. Unfortunately, he said this Ken who asks the girls if they are cold because of this reasoning.
- If Junpei got to try he'd be sorely disappointed as there in fact would be underlayers upon underlayers underneath. Especially in winter.
- In the PSP version with the Female Protagonist, you can go out with Junpei to summer festival with a yukata. He sings the praises of the yukata and how sexy the Protagonist looks. And you wear a kimono on New Year's Day too with the other girls. Too bad nether are shown save from the shoulders up.
- Amusingly, Junpei may ask the female main character if girls are really Going Commando with a kimono (which in several regions is the case, just not everywhere) and the possible answers are "Yes.", "No." and "I'll leave that to your imagination."
- In Persona 4, Yukiko wears one when she works at her family's inn.
- It also has all the girls wearing yukata for the summer festival, which Teddie finds very exciting. Kanji is too embarrassed to even look at them.
- On New Year's Eve, the guys work themselves into a tizzy over the thought of the girls showing up in their yukata... only for them to instead come bundled up in winter clothes like them, because it's bloody cold!
- As alternate costumes in Tales of Vesperia, Estelle gets one, and Judith gets a shorter yukata. There are even accompanying skits about how good characters look in their new outfits.
- In Double Dragon Neon, Skullmageddon's geishas exhibit Type B with Show Some Leg and low necklines.
- In the last episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Foot Clan leader Karai wears a kimono to April and Casey's wedding ceremony.
- Geisha are more or less the embodiment of type A. Not do they only master the proper kimono wearing posture and carriage to be always elegant, they also wear certain items (like red underkimono) and such fashions (such as lower-and-looser-than-strictly-proper obi) to specifically tantalize. As the style they wear is obsolete, also counts as Gorgeous Period Dress.
- Some hostess bars have a few girls wearing kimono to cater to the fancy of men who like this kind of thing.
- There have been some Miss World contestants from Japan wearing heavily B2 type costumes on the "national" round. Opinion varies on whether those costumes are an exiting and sexy approach to the kimono or a complete disgrace.