How to Tie a Japanese Hakama

Updated April 17, 2017

Hakama is a pair of traditional, pleated Japanese trousers worn by Samurai warriors and aristocrats since the third century. The legs are wide and worn ankle length, so the garment resembles a long skirt. Hakama features seven pleats, representing the seven virtues of Samurai and four straps or himo, which are tied following a strict tradition. The gi, today's martial arts uniforms, were originally undergarments for early hakama. Practitioners of Kendo and Aikiko martial arts wear hakama during training, although no rear knots are tied in Aikiko hakama due to the possibility of back injuries during training exercises.

Hold the sides of hakama at the waist and step into them, keeping the long, front two himo in the hands. Pull the hakama up over the gi to the belly button for men or at the waist for women.

Wrap the front himo around the back, cross them and bring them back around to the front. Tie the himo once in the front about two inches from the top of the hakama; adjust them for comfort and snugness and bring them around to the back.

Tie and knot the himo at the back, allowing the loose ends to hang. Bring up the back of the hakama over the just-tied belt (obi). If the hakama has a hard tongue (koshi-ita) at the rear top of the garment, tuck that securely under the knotted obi, then tuck the loose himo ends smoothly under the obi.

Bring the back two himo to the front of the hakama and cross them. Thread one end up under the layers of the obi and knot both straps. Tuck all the himo ends into each side of the obi all the way to the back of the hakama.

Examine the finished obi to ensure all layers and ends of the knotted himo are smoothly layered and invisible except for the upper one. Straighten out the back of the gi by reaching into each of the hakama's slide slits and pulling it down.


In tying hakama for Aikiko training, begin tying with the rear set of himo, making sure no knots are made at the back.

Things You'll Need

  • Hakama
  • Gi
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Sue McCarty, a writer and copy editor since 1994, penned a newspaper humor column for several years. She assisted in her husband's motorcycle shop for 20 years and was also a professional gardener and caterer. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in communications, McCarty began her journalism career at a Pennsylvania daily newspaper.