A furisode (振袖 furisode) kimono is a kimono with the distinctive feature of having long sleeves that can go all the way down to the ground. They are usually made of silk and can have a huge variety of patterns, but often feature flowers. Furisode kimono are generally very colourful and feature bright colours.
The most common furisode variants are the ōfurisode and the chūfurisode. The ōfurisode (large size) kimono has hanging sleeves up to 105cm/41in in length, which can touch the ground with stretched arms. The chūfurisode (medium size) has a bit shorter sleeves with up to 90cm/35,4in in length. They are a bit more practical, albeit less formal as well.
Another variant of the furisode kimono are the kofurisode or koburisode, which feature shorter “hanging sleeves”. The hanging sleeves of the kofurisode/koburisode are only up to 75cm/30in long . This makes them more practical for everyday use and less formal. Otherwise, they are similar to the ōfurisode and chūfurisode
Who wears them?
Furisode kimonos are exclusive to unmarried young women. In the past, they were a clear signal for everyone that a girl is still unmarried and available for marriage proposals. Today, as most young men don’t know the types and styles of women kimono anymore, this signal probably got lost in time.
When are they used?
They can be used from very formal to casual occasions. One special occasion, where all the young girls wear a furisode kimono, is the coming of age day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi), or also called “Adults Day”. On this day, all girls who have turned 20 in the past year dress in a furisode kimono. It is held on the second Monday of January. The furisode is also often used at wedding ceremonies, but of course not by the bride.
Kimono Kanji 101
How to wear a furisode kimono
The most difficult thing about kimonos, maybe besides getting your hands on a high quality one for a reasonable price, is actually putting them on. In the following video you get a detailed “how to”, although it’s unfortunately in Japanese. Maybe time to learn some Japanese?
Here we have another dressing video from California and therefore with English explanation. I personally find the explanations more confusing than helping, but maybe you enjoy listenting to a Japanese “obaachan” practicing her English on the spectators.
Additional furisode Media
To give you a better idea about what a furisode looks like, you can watch the following video of a kimono fashion show. In this part of the fashion show, only furisode kimono are shown:
Thanks to Suehiro Kimono Agency from Hollywood for this beautiful video.
A wonderful high quality video from the city of Tsuyama shows really beautiful furisode kimono with the typical fur jackets, which are absolutely necessary in winter. At the beginning and the end of the video you can see everyone walking around in front of the assembly hall, where pictures of the new adults are taken. Here you can get a good look at the beautiful kimono that they are wearing.
Another furisode specific fashion show can be seen here. Sadly, due to its age, the quality of the video isn’t as good, but you will have English commentary of what you are seeing.
You want to watch some young girls struggle to put their furisode on as fast as possible? Here you go, between minute 5:40 and 7:40. After that, they do the same thing with kurotomesode kimono.
In the following picture you can see young Japanese girls lining up for a nice picture of their kimono and obi. Note the multitude of colors, which is typical for this type of kimono. As they are part of a spring festival, you can see the floral topic in their kimono and obi.
Let’s take a close up look at different obi styles. Here you can also see some large patterns which stretch over the whole kimono.