The Traditional Clothing in Korea and Japan Essay

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 kimonos are the tomesode, uchikake and furisode. Fully dressing up in a kimono requires a belt named ‘obi’ where else a hanbok needs no belt. Obi plays an important role to keep the kimono from getting out of shape. If a kimono is worn without the obi, the kimono will get out of shape in a moment. Generally, the obi used is depending on the type of kimono worn. The most formal obi is the metallic or colour brocade and tapestry, followed by dyed silk, woven silk and non-silk obi fabrics.

Brocade, tapestry and dyed silk obi are used for formal wear with the finest kimono, while obi made from raw silk, cotton or wool is used for daily wear. Another contrast that could be seen based on the design of both these traditional costumes is that the hanbok boasts more vivid colours but has fewer patterns than the kimono. The colours, designs, and patterns of hanbok are classified according to the social classes of people who wear it. For example, in the Chosun Dynasty, the king wearing yellow represented the center of the universe.

In contrast, the common people wore white clothes and that is why Koreans are sometimes known as “the people of white clothes”. On the contrary, the kimono usually comes in two colours such as black and white but it has bigger patterns of flowers and leaves. The following excerpt was taken which describes the characteristics of the hanbok and its difference from the kimono. “Hanbok are Korea’s version of the Japanese kimono but with a very unique style. They tend to be simpler, straighter cut, with solid, vibrant colours and less patterned than kimonos. (Jamie, 2010) We can see a number of purposes in the hanbok and kimono costume and the main purpose that they both share is to protect the body. They are capable to protect one’s body from heat and humid weather during summer as the material used to produce them allows air to circulate and dries any sweat. Cotton or silk material is also able to shield from cold wind and snow during winter. Secondly, traditional costume plays an important part in representing its own particular culture and identity of a country. The people in Asia are represented by various types of costume which represent their each uniqueness and individuality, with a distinct touch of their respective country and inheritance. ” (Dollnasian, 2010). As an example, the kimono is marked as feminine attire in Japan and it could actually be closely associated with a ‘geisha’, or better known as the traditional, Japanese female entertainers. A geisha who walks with grace and dignity, wrapped up in a beautiful silk kimono is without a doubt the “icon of Japanese culture” (Van Riel, n. d. ).

The kimono as a cultural identity can be further acknowledged through the sayings of Lafcadio Hearn: “For it has well been said that the most wonderful aesthetic products of Japan are not its ivories, nor its bronzes, nor its porcelains, nor its swords, nor any of its marvels in metal or lacquer – but its women. ” The most distinct purpose that differentiate these two traditional clothing is that the hanbok is worn for various occasions but “Different styles of kimono may be worn according to the formality of the occasion and the age or marital status of the wearer. (Alison Behnke, 2003). Hanbok is worn on special days in Korea such as the New Year’s, Thanksgiving, wedding ceremonies, funerals and the 100th day celebration for babies. Kimono, no doubt is also worn during festivals, memorial days, weddings and such, but each occasion determines the type of kimono to be worn. For instance, the uchikake kimono which is the most gorgeous kimono is worn by brides during a traditional Japanese wedding. The furisode kimono is a formal kimono worn by young, single women when celebrating the coming-of-age ceremony at the age of twenty.

Wearing a furisode clearly states that the single woman is available for marriage. Another kind of kimono that could be seen here is the tomesode kimono. This particular kimono is worn by married women to a Japanese wedding ceremony of a close relative but not to a friend’s wedding or any other ceremonies. Surely, the hanbok and kimono as the traditional costumes for Korea and Japan, and costumes from any other countries, are in fact important for many reasons. Apart from acting as a protection to the body, they also play a vital role in showing one’s originality and existence as an individual with its own identity.

With the ever changing styles and fashion trends influenced by Western culture, the traditional clothing has a big chance of being extinct in the near future. Thus, it is important for every individual to continue to appreciate the uniqueness of their traditional wear because after all, it is an essential human heritage we should not loose. Reference Ancient Chinese Dress. (n. d. ). Retrieved October 31, 2010, from http://www. kwintessential. co. uk/articles/article/China/Ancient-Chinese-Dress/1868 Behnke, A. (2003). Japan in pictures. Twenty-First Century Books.

Retreived October 31, 2010 from http://books. google. com. my/books? id=EJmRlmmAKw4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=japan+in+pictures&hl=en&ei=stjRTI3NOI7-vQOCneG8DA&sa=X&oi=b ook_result&ct=book-thumbnail&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6wEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false Dollnasian. (2010). The Asian Dress: A Look at the Traditional Costumes of the Exotic East. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from http://hubpages. com/hub/Asian-Dress Jamie. (2002). The hanbok. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from http://www. roryandjamie. com/the-hanbok / Jisu, A. (2007). Visionary of tradition: Designer Bae Young Jin refashions the Hanbok for the modern age.

Retrieved November 14, 2010, from http://english. seoul. go. kr/gtk/news/reports_view. php? idx=1207&cPage=26& The Kimono: Cultural Identity. (2009). Retrieved on November 14, 2010, from http://divinephoenixegg8. blogspot. com/2009/02/kimono-cultural-identity. html Wetherille, K. (2010). A modern tradition. Retrieved on November 14, 2010, from http://weekenderjapan. com/? p=25024 When do Koreans wear traditional clothes, like hanbok? How is hanbok different from traditional attire in China and Japan? (2010). Retrieved October 31, 2010, from http://www. koreabrand. net/en/know/know_view. do? CATE_CD=0009&SEQ=45