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Kimono Is Traditional

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In contemporary Japanese settings, the kimono is often shorthand for "this character appreciates the traditional Good Old Ways." Even people who wouldn't normally even think of abandoning the comfort of Western wear, will go out of their way to wear a fancy kimono for formal celebrations and events. For more information about the kimono, see the useful notes. For specifically kimono-flavoured fanservice, both sexual and not so, see Kimono Fanservice.

Kimono is a likely wear-of-choice for a Yamato Nadeshiko. A Geisha will never work out of kimono. An elderly character wearing a kimono will likely represent the traditional ways, demanding respect as the iron-fisted head of their family. Sometimes the whole family is dressed this way, and might seem stuck in the Middle Ages when it comes to values.

If the fianceé or would-be-so is shown in a kimono, expect her to be an upper-class maiden brought up in "Kyoto style", i.e. the old-fashioned way. In short, a character wearing a kimono daily means that they will most likely follow the expected ideal of a Japanese person of their age, sex and position. The exception is a working-age male daily wearer. This reads as somewhat of a rebel, as he most likely won't be a white-collar salaryman. Yet another character type seen wearing kimonos is certain hostesses — often a background hostess coupled with a dress-wearing one. In their case, the kimono belongs to their shtick of more grown-up, discreet charms and Yamato Nadeshiko or even geisha-like aesthetics.

In modern Japan, the skill of dressing in a kimono and carrying it is largely limited to dancers, geisha and such, and aficionados. As well, professional sumo wrestlers are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever they are in public, with rank indicated by the elaborateness of the clothing. Being able to dress oneself in a kimono is oh-so-WOW, while yukata-wearing skill is more like a citizen responsibility. Other stereotypical kimono wearers are artistic types, mainly traditional artisans, painters, novelists and such, for whom it confers an air of respectability and grounding in tradition, which more Westernized and bohemian types often lack. Kimono are also not cheap by any means. Thus, daily kimono wearer characters have a certain aura of elite in the Japanese mind.

Note that simply wearing yukata does not qualify a character to be traditional in kimono — it's considered a different type of garment altogether in Japan, and has different connotations. Similarly on the opposite end, wearing an uchikake, i.e. a loose, unfastened outer kimono on top of the normal kimono, in normal conditions (outside weddings) multiplies all the traditionalness, class, and wealth indications the kimono itself gives to a character.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Yaku's typical attire consists of a kimono and other traditional Japanese clothing, befitting her Yamato Nadeshiko status.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi: Aoi is a Yamato Nadeshiko brought up in the traditional way, and wears the kimono in her everyday life. Her family owns the famous Sakuraba department stores, so she is advertising her family's product as well as demonstrating her good upbringing.
  • In Akatsuki no Aria, Aria always wears a hakama as her school uniform, while Ayako and Beniko and other characters are dressed up in kimonos since they're high-class ladies.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, of the six students and two teachers, only Sakaki and eleven-year-old Chiyo knew how to put on a kimono, and had to teach the rest. Kagura's parents bought her one for the occasion.
  • In Blend-S, due to being from a very traditional Japanese family, the Sakuranomiya household always wear kimono save for the little sister Maika, who has a Foreign Culture Fetish.
  • In Chihayafuru, this is played with: karuta is a traditional game, and so it is associated with kimono. (High level matches are also officially played in kimono.) When Kanade first hears about the karuta club, she becomes very excited, because her family owns a traditional Japanese clothing store and so she has a great love for kimono (plus, the store isn't doing so well so she's always looking for places to promote it). She is highly disappointed when she realises that the club treats karuta not as an art form but as a sport, the players typically just wearing t-shirts. However, after she joins she convinces the other club members to wear kimono to competitions, which makes them stand out among the other teams. This love of traditional clothing is also important to Kanade's Yamato Nadeshiko personality - she is extremely aware of her movements when she wears a kimono and is careful to always act with grace and dignity, which is noted to make her look beautiful in a way she normally doesn't. It even makes her play karuta better by refining her movements and calming her.
  • Fruits Basket has several examples:
    • Shigure Sohma almost always wears kimono. Since he's an author, it's related to the Japanese stereotype of how writers and artists only ever wear traditional clothing, and in one manga omake he says he invokes this trope because of that stereotype.
    • Akito Sohma, the head of the traditional Sohma family, almost always wears a male kimono (occasionally switching to western clothing when leaving the Sohma estate). At the end of the story, she decides to stop hiding her gender and switches it out for a female one.
    • Ritsu Sohma is almost always seen in a female kimono, which makes sense since his mother runs a traditional hot spring and always wears kimono herself.
  • Chidori Kaname utterly stuns everyone after she dons the kimono and puts out her best Yamato Nadeshiko airs in one of the Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu episodes. This simple act is enough to make her look at least ten years older and completely unrecognizable to anyone: it was much too easy to forget that this brash tsundere is a daughter of a high-level diplomat and, New-York grown or not, she is the archetypal Yamato Nadeshiko in the end.
  • Katakura Kojuurou in Gate 7 is always showed wearing a kimono and hakama and uchikake.
  • Gourmet Girl Graffiti:
    • Ryou's grandmother wears it because, well, she's old.
    • Shiina's Old Retainer Tsuyuko wears it because she works at a Japanese-style Big Fancy House.
  • Japan of Hetalia: Axis Powers, fittingly, is often seen wearing a yukata and once cleans his house while wearing traditionally female kimono and apron wear. Needless to say, fans love to break out the Kimono Fanservice for him in fanworks.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, not only does Hiro lend Miyako her old yukata, but it's mentioned that Sae put hers on like a guy at first.
  • In Hikaru no Go, Touya Kouyou and Kuwabara Honinbo wear kimono, highlighting their status as Old Masters.
  • Yuriko Nishinotouin of Kakegurui is president of the Traditional Culture club, and protecting that club and its members from the harsher aspects of life at Hyakkaou Academy is her main motivation for gambling and remaining on the Student Council. Fittingly, she is always seen wearing a kimono and hakama instead of Hyakkaou's uniform.
  • Defied by Mariko Kurata of Kodocha: while in the past she may have been this, finding out she was sterile drove her to be as little as traditional as possible, still wearing only kimonos but now alongside crazy hairstyles that include a live squirrel.
  • Lucky Star:
    • When going to a summer festival while wearing yukata, the girls talk about the tying of the obi. Kagami's assumption was that Miyuki had tied it herself, but instead, the person at the store tied it. Konata's obi was tied by her father, a fact which disturbs Tsukasa.
    • Konata's father Soujirou is an example himself, since he typically wears a kimono and haori. Since he's a freelance writer, this references the Japanese stereotype of authors always wearing traditional clothing.
  • Lupin III has Goemon Ishikawa XIII, who is always seen in a kimono and hakama, reflecting his Samurai honor and traditional ways. He only wears something else during the rare instances that he puts on a disguise.
  • Micaiah Chevelle of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid wears these most of the time, fitting her traditional Japanese character motif (despite being Mid-Childan) together with her dojo, katana, Iaijutsu Practitioner fighting style, and generally formal mannerisms.
  • In Miss Sunflower, Yuu Meigatsu, an author and the "master" of the title character's older brother, often wears a kimono. Miss Sunflower's brother likewise usually wears traditional Japanese clothing.
  • Ichiki from Nabari no Ou is always seen wearing a traditional kimono.
  • In Niji No Nataasha, Natasha's rival is Umeko, a very traditionally brought up high class girl, and you guessed it, she always wears splendid kimono. Her mother, practically a queen at home, never needs to lift a finger to get everything done (they have many servants), and she wears kimono + uchikake.
  • Kaibara of Oishinbo is a renowned artist who practices several traditional artforms, as well as a hard-line traditionalist in other areas and almost always wears a kimono. Older characters also frequently wear kimonos.
  • Saotome Nodoka in Ranma ˝ almost always wears a kimono, and is a walking parody of the Yamato Nadeshiko archetype.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei:
    • The kimono is standard garb for Nozomu Itoshiki, the despairing teacher.
    • Also for his stalker, Matoi Tsunetsuki, since she always dresses like her current love.
    • Also worn by his friend Ikkyu-san, who has a passion for all things old-fashioned.
  • Manga author Takezou Nogame wears one when we finally get to see him in Shirobako, fitting the common real life association of writers and authors with this trope.
  • In Strawberry Marshmallow, it's discovered that Ana doesn't have a yukata, so she temporarily "borrow" one off of Miu. As in, Miu had been wearing it when she borrowed it. Then Chika remembers Nobue's old one, which Miu ends up wearing to the summer festival.
  • Yuusha De Aru:
    • The traditionalist Togo in Yuki Yuna is a Hero occasionally wears a kimono when out of her school uniform. The anime is set in the 24th century, though the culture and technology is stuck in the early 21st century.
    • Washio in Washio Sumi Is a Hero is a very patriotic child who is depicted wearing a kimono at least once. It turns out that she's the same character as Togo.
  • In Your Name, Mitsuha and Yotsuha's highly traditional grandmother Hitoha is always shown wearing a kimono.

  • Tsuruya in Kyon: Big Damn Hero wears a kimono out of school nearly all the time for this reason.
  • Skyla's mother in one Pokémon Reset Bloodlines sidestory is mentioned to be wearing a kimono (it's implied that she hails from the Johto region). She's patient and subdued, so she seems to fit the personality of the trope.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Gate of Flesh: A band of five prostitutes work together in the ruins of Tokyo not long after the end of the war. Four of them wear American-style cocktail dresses and matching slips, in bright primary colors. The fifth, Machiko, stands out by dressing in a kimono. She obviously represents the old ways of Japan before defeat in the war and a humiliating occupation by the Americans. She has a habit of getting nostalgic about how she was once a proper wife, before her man was killed in the war.

  • Shiki Ryougi from The Garden of Sinners wears nothing but kimono, except for a red leather jacket over it. While she's not exactly a traditionalist, she's very conservative and hardly ever uses any kind of modern convenience.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several of the recurring guests in the original Japanese run of Iron Chef wore kimono. Notably culinary scholar Masaaki Hirano, and Yokuzuna Akebono among them. Actress Mayuko Takata wearing them may have crossed over with Kimono Fanservice.
  • On Quantum Leap, Sam leaped into a man who had a Japanese war bride he brought home from his stint in Japan, and she wore a kimono all the time. The year was 1953. In the context, her constant kimono wearing might be related to either not wanting to give up clothes reminding of home and good pre-war times, and not needing to do so, or the production wanting to underline her otherness.
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger:
    • The team wears traditional kimonos for some role-calls, and their ancestors wore them when not transformed.
    • Team mentor Jii is also seen wearing a kimono all the time. Even during his Badass Biker moments.
  • In Trick, Naoko's elderly, widowed mother always wears a kimono around the house and makes a living giving calligraphy classes.

  • Madame Butterfly, an opera set in Japan, has a good majority of the cast in kimonos, with special mention going to Cio-Cio-San.
  • In The Mikado, a play set in Japan, the cast is wearing kimonos. Specifically, the Three Little Maids are often in pastel shades of pink, blue, and yellow. The costumes are not even close to authentic in most productions, although this is often artistic license - the play is set in Japan but is, at heart, as British in its sensibilities as anything by Gilbert and Sullivan, and some productions lampshade this by blending British and Japanese elements in the costumes. In the original production, the kimonos were extremely accurate and well-researched, as was the case with most G&S productions. Gilbert wanted the sets and costumes as realistic as possible, to make the absurdities of the plot and jokes stand out in harsher contrast.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney will often have traditionalist characters wear kimonos. It's perfectly natural in the series' original country of Japan, but might seem odd in the localizations, which are guilty of Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change to the United States.
    • The Fey clan wears kimonos in line with their family tradition and work of spirit channeling.
    • Grumpy Old Man Victor Kudo from Trials and Tribulations not only wears one, but once embroidered kimonos as his job.
    • Metis Cykes from Dual Destinies wore a kimono while alive to reflect her fondness for Japanese culture. Jinxie Tenma from 5-2 wears a variant as the daughter of the mayor of a traditional Japanese village.
    • Taifu and Uendo Toneido of from Spirit of Justice wear them in line with their work as practitioners of rakugo, a form of traditional Japanese theater.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ayane's family butler, Yuko Yada, wears a blue kimono even while she is attending to Ayane. Yuko is also skilled in wielding a katana.
  • Cartagra and Kara no Shoujo are set in modernizing, postwar Japan. But Takeshiro (protagonist of Cartagra) and his wife are among the notable few who stick to traditional dress. In contrast with Reiji (protagonist of Kara), the two are less quick to adopt 'modern' styles and means, even though the wife is now a television actress.
  • Hiyoko Saionji wears a kimono as her only outfit during Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, since she's a Japanese traditional dancer. However, it's later revealed that she's unable to tie her obi by herself.
  • Dead or Alive: In all of her appearances so far, Ayame, Kasumi, Ayane, and Hayate's mother, is seen wearing a kimono.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, every character gets a Kimono Fanservice card eventually, but they're more strongly associated with the traditional Japanese-style unit Akatsuki for obvious reasons. Souma in particular exemplifies this, as he is from a samurai family and generally acts as though he is an actual samurai teleported into the present day - it's rarer for him to get 4 and 5 star cards that don't involve traditional clothing, and in a mini-event he reveals that he wears kimonos around the house. He also admits that he was once scolded by Keito for wearing a kimono to school, though, and although Kaoru once questions whether he's even able to wear western-style clothing, the one time we see him in a casual outfit of his own choosing it's a pretty normal hoodie and jeans combo.
  • Kokori Fushikawa from Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! almost always wears a kimono. She may be more of a spoiled brat than a Yamato Nadeshiko, but she holds on to the traditional values of the noble families well, mainly their superiority over the "commoners", and flaunts it at any chance she gets.
  • Mega Man X DiVE: Cinnamon's New Year variant wears a yukata.
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, the waitress at a traditional Japanese cafe wears a kimono to work.
  • Persona:
    • Steven Silverman, the father of Persona 2 party member Lisa Silverman, is an American Japanophile (and naturalized Japanese citizen) who runs his home like a traditional Japanese household and has the clothes to match.
    • Early in Persona 4, Yu runs into Yukiko Amagi while she's wearing a kimono. It's used as visual shorthand for how she's following her family's traditions and becoming the next head of the Amagi Inn. Yukiko can wear that kimono, or a fancier ceremonial kimono, as costumes in Golden.
    • In Persona 5, artist Ichiryusai Madarame wears relatively simple traditional Japanese clothes as part of his humble public image. However, his Shadow Self wears a gaudy yellow kimono, representing the endless greed and vanity hiding beneath his modest facade. Additionally, his former student Yusuke Kitagawa is the only male party member in the entire series to wear a yukata during festivals.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gym Leader Erika always wears a traditional kimono. Four generations later, she remains the gentlest and most polite of all female Gym Leaders. She runs a perfume shop as her day job and tends to flowers as her hobby.
    • There is also a quintet known as the Kimono Girls. These are the only characters in the games from which they originate to keep their Japanese names (though mixed up among them). Their role is to perform an old ritual to bring Ho-oh to the top of Ecruteak City's Bell Tower. Note that the entire Johto region, where they live, has a strong feudal Japanese look, with old-fashioned wooden houses and paper doors, temples with guardian monks, and a culture deeply reverent of tradition.
  • Sakura Wars: When not in the field, Sakura Shinguji wears a kimono consisting of a pink haori and red hakama.
  • Kakuya from Spirit Hunter: NG wears a luxuriously decorated Japanese garment, which makes her stand out in the otherwise-urban setting and marks her as something supernatural.
  • Touhou Project has a few examples:
    • Yuyuko Saigyouji wears one, being the ghost of a daughter of a noble family. Out of a huge cast of girls who all wear some kind of Elegant Gothic Lolita clothing, her outfit is one of the few that resembles traditional Japanese clothing.
    • Kotohime and Yuugen Magan (specifically the "core" section) from the PC-98 games also appeared in kimono.
  • Kohaku from Tsukihime is a Meido who wears a kimono with an apron.
  • In Xenosaga Episode II, Jin Uzuki wears kimono in a world thousands of years removed from Japan's existence on a destroyed Earth. He is not merely a Fan of the Past, but holds to a very old-fashioned sense of propriety, and is a practitioner, to Charles Atlas Superpower levels, of traditional martial arts.
  • Yakuza: Several important elder patriarchs and oyabuns throughout the series (such as Jin Goda from 2, Tadashi Madarame from 5, Mitsugu Matsugane from Judgment and Ryuhei Hoshino from Yakuza: Like a Dragon) wear old-fashioned kimonos and haoris and all of them are shown in a primarily positive light, representing the ideals, traditions, honor and nobility that modern yakuza only pay lip service to.

    Web Comics 
  • MegaTokyo: Sawatari dresses in very traditional Japanese style, which includes a kimono.
  • In Tsunami Channel, Haruna is presented as a very traditional girl from an extremely wealthy and traditional family, having been groomed like a samurai wife (naginata-wielding and all), so she naturally wears kimono all the time.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Though Yum LaBouche isn't Japanese, he wears a Japanese kimono as part of San Fransokyo's Japanese-American culture.