An extract on #clothing
While the traditional ethnic garments of Japan are still in use, they are mainly worn for ceremonies and special events, funerals, coming-of-age ceremonies, and festivals. In more recent years, western clothing is worn often in day-to-day life. While the westernization of fashions has continued at a rapid pace, the kimono lives on in Japanese culture.
Modern Japanese fashion history might be conceived as the very gradual westernization of Japanese clothes. The woolen and worsted industries were completely a product of Japan's re-established contact with the West in the 1850s and 1860s. Before the 1860s, Japanese clothing consisted entirely of a great variety of kimono. These first appeared in the Jomon period (14,500 B.C. 300 B.C.), with no distinction between male and female.
After Japan opened up for trading with the outside world, other clothing options started to come in. The first Japanese to adopt western clothing were officers and men of some units of the shogun's army and navy.
Sometime in the 1850s these men adopted woolen uniforms worn by English marines stationed at Yokohama. To produce them could not have been easy. The cloth had to be imported. Perhaps the most significant of this early adoption of Western styles was its public origin. For quite a while, the public sector remained as major champion of the new garb.
The style only grew from there, moving out from the military to other lifestyles. Soon, courtiers and bureaucrats were urged to adopt Western clothing, which was thought to be more practical.
The Ministry of Education ordered that Western-style student uniforms be worn in public colleges and universities. Businessmen, teachers, doctors, bankers, and other leaders of the new society wore suits to work and at large social functions. Although western-style dress was becoming more popular for workplaces, schools, and streets, it was not worn by everybody.
Since World War II most areas have been taken over by western clothing. Thus, by the opening of the twentieth century, western dress was a symbol of social dignity and progressiveness. However, the vast majority of Japanese stuck to their fashions, in favor of the more comfortable kimono. Western dress for street wear and Japanese dress at home remained the general rule for a very long time.
An example of Eastern influence from Japan that spread to the rest of the world is evident in the late 1880s. An ordinary wool blanket was used as a shawl for women, and a red blanket was featured in Vogue for winter wear.
Until the 1930s, the majority of Japanese wore the kimono, and Western clothes were still restricted to out-of-home use by certain classes. The Japanese have interpreted western clothing styles from the United States and Europe and made it their own. Overall, it is evident throughout history that there has been much more of a Western influence on Japans culture and clothing. However, the traditional kimono remains a major part of the Japanese way of life and will be for a long time.