A homongi ( or hōmongi – ほうもんぎ – 訪問着) kimono is literally a “visit kimono” (訪問 = visit; 着 = clothes, outfit). They are a lot less colorful and draw less attention than for example furisode kimono. Their patterns tend to be extravagant and can run over the seams of the kimono. Often, one image can seamlessly cover the whole kimono, with a fitting obi adding highlights to the pattern. Hōmongi are the most palatial and boastful kimono for married women and older unmarried women, only bested by the furisode.
As they are supposed to show elegance and upper-class status, they are always made of silk. The sleeve lenght can vary, but is longer for unmarried women.
In the past, homongi were most famous for sporting 3 family or clan crests, so called “mon”. One on the back side, in the center at the top of the back seam and two on the front on either side of the collar. These were the crests of the family or clan the woman belonged to. As the clans lost relevance, the designs became more open for other patterns.
Who wears them?
Homongi kimono are only used by married women. They are given to them when they marry, to symbolize their womanhood.
Of course, as traditions soften up, they are also worn by unmarried older women, who don’t want to dress in colorful and bright kimono.
When are they used?
In general, homongi are “all purpose” kimono, but see frequent use at tee ceremonies and weddings. They first appeared during the Meiji era, as a formal dress for upper-class women. They only became popular for common use as a semiformal to formal attire for going out during the Showa period.
Because of their elegance, they are also the favorite kimono for geishas.
Kimono Kanji 101
訪問 = visit
着 = clothes, outfit
Want to have a more visual explanation and your Japanese is ready for some excercise?
Let’s show you some typical homongi and their patterns in some examples.
The first one is a black and white one with made shades and a full body floral pattern that seamlessly covers the whole kimono.
For the next one, we would like to pull your attention to the detailed embroidery in the floral/plant pattern.
For the next, we have a very classical theme and colorscheme. A large peacook pattern with mainly purple and white coloration.