Have you ever worn a Hakama? A Hakama is one of the Japanese traditional clothes. Today, the Japanese only wear it on limited occasions. However, Samurai wear Hakama every day. How was a Hakama changing? I’ll introduce the history of Japanese Hakama.
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What is a Hakama?――before learning the history of a Hakama
Firstly, I would like to explain about a Hakama. A Hakama is the skirt-like pants. Hakama are tied at the waist and fall approximately to the ankles. It is a traditional piece of Samurai’s clothing. People wear the standard “gi” in aikido, Judo or Karate. Wearing it is a part of the tradition of budo.
Origin of Hakama
The history of a Hakama goes back to the Tumulus period. Some clay figures excavated from gravesites wear Hakamas. The word “Hakama” also appears in Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan. People wore trousers like a Hakama in the Chinese imperial court in the Sui and Tang dynasties. This style was adopted by the Japanese in the 6th century.
Mark of Higher Classes
In the Asuka, Nara, and Heian periods, Hakamas showed high status. Male aristocrats usually wear Hakamas as uniforms. In these periods, many types of Hakama were designed. Women of the imperial court wore culottes that looked similar to a Hakama.
From the Kamakura period to the Edo period
The warrior class, Samurais began to wear Hakamas during the Kamakura period. Mostly, they wear them as protection during horseback riding. This type of Hakama used in Aikido today. It was divided like trousers. This kind of Hakama has been called “Umanori Hakama.” During the Edo period, it became the daily wear of Samurais. They must wear a very long one when visiting the Shogun. Normally, these kinds of Hakama had remarkable lengths in both the back and front. On the contrary, women stopped wearing Hakamas in the 14th century. That is to say, a Hakama became men’s wear.
After the Samurai class was abolished
In the Meiji period, women started to wear wears again. The Meiji Restoration made education open to women. In fact, people considered Hakama as men’s wear. However, the ministry of education permitted female college students to wear clothes. That’s because a woman’s clothes would not be comfortable for school activities. Soon, these Hakamas came to be symbols of women’s rights. In addition, they were a trendy fashion statement among the cultured modern Japanese women.
Today’s Japanese Hakama
Almost all of the Japanese men wear Hakamas only on formal and traditional occasions. For example, New Year’s Day celebrations, weddings and so on. Also, you can see women in Hakamas at graduation ceremonies. At shrines, female attendants usually wear red ones and white tops.
Thank you for reading about the history of a Japanese Hakama! I recommend you to read this article about obi.