Traditional Japanese Kimono Halloween Costume

Written by rochelle leggett
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Traditional Japanese Kimono Halloween Costume
In modern Japan, a kimono is often reserved only for special occasions and ceremonies. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A kimono is a type of traditional Japanese clothing that is often considered very elegant. A real kimono is extremely expensive, which makes buying a kimono unsuitable for a costume for an occasion such as celebrating Halloween. However, there are several options for buying or making a garment that is very similar to a traditional kimono and will be suitable for Halloween.


The word "kimono" means "clothes." Different types of kimono have been traditional clothing in Japan for centuries. Both men and women wear kimono, though they are most often associated with women due to the popularity of Japanese woodblock prints depicting women in kimono. For visitors to Japan, dressing as a geisha or maiko and wearing a traditional kimono is a popular activity. However, putting on a kimono and tying the obi, or sash, is an activity that is challenging. While traditionally mothers would teach their daughters how to properly tie an obi, in modern times, many women learn from kimono schools.


For a costume, a real kimono is an expensive investment. However, there are many patterns for kimono both online and in shops that sell sewing supplies. A kimono has a very simple construction, consisting of rectangles of fabric. When making your own kimono costume, choose patterns reminiscent of traditional Japanese patterns in cotton or satin, and place the pattern pieces so that they show the pattern of the fabric in an attractive way. You can also purchase a costume kimono or a yukata. A yukata is very similar in design and appearance to a kimono, but is much easier to put on and wear and is much less expensive. Most women in Japan own their own yukata for summer festivals, as they are made from light, colourful fabrics appropriate to summer.


There are many ways to tie an obi, or the sash of a kimono, as well as many styles of obi suitable for different occasions. Tying an obi can be quite difficult and may require practice and training. However, a well-tied obi is important to making your costume look convincing. If you would prefer to not tie an obi, you can purchase a pre-tied obi for a yukata, which is designed to be very easy to put on. You can also make an obi that resembles a real obi, but does not tie like one. For instance, for a drum style obi, you could hem a wide strip of cloth and wrap it around your waist. Tie it in place with a thin, decorative cord. Then take a separate piece of wide cloth in the same pattern and fold it into a loop, tucking the ends into the back of your sash. This would not be acceptable in Japan, but is suitable for a costume for Halloween.


Kimono are designed to be worn with special undergarments, but this is not necessary for a costume. However, tabi socks and zori sandals are highly associated with the kimono, and are important for a good costume. If you can't find plain white tabi socks and zori sandals, you can modify ordinary white socks by putting a stitch between the big toe and other toes and wear thong-style sandals or flip-flops. Again, this would not be suitable for a real kimono, but is good for a costume.

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