Saving Japan’s Subtle Sexy “Cover-It-All-Up” Kimono!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

People who are not intimately familiar with Japan’s traditional [female] kimono may never have thought of the “cover-everything-up” garments as particularly sexy, but they are. Even the most die-hard take-it-all-off advocates cannot deny their influence on both the girls and women who wear them and the libido of males who view them.


     The first step in converting full or nearly full-exposure die-hards to an appreciation of the seductive appeal of kimono is to remind them that total exposure of the female body eventually results in a loss of its seductive powers…


     In ancient times the Japanese learned that mystery and the imagination are far more powerful sexual turn-on’s than complete exposure of the body, and until recent times this knowledge was reflected in their wearing apparel as well as in other areas of their life, including communal bathing.


     Furthermore, early Japanese, being especially sensually oriented because of their Shinto beliefs, did not leave the seductive powers of form-fitting kimono to just concealing rather than revealing the physical charms of girls and women. They added the power of colors and design elements to further enhance the sensual appeal of the garments.


    But many of the lifestyle changes that were introduced into Japan from the 1870s on were incompatible with the kimono, and over the next century it gradually disappeared from everyday wear.

    By the 1970s one generally saw kimono only on special occasions such as weddings and holidays. It began to seem as if this amazing garment had been consigned to the dust heap of history.


     And then in the early 1970s manufacturers began an attempt to revive the popularity of the kimono by producing cheaper versions of them in cotton and linen, rather than the traditional silk—itself one of the most sensual fabrics ever made. The enormous but latent cultural power of the kimono kicked in and in no time the industry was worth ¥2 trillion a year.


    But the new cotton and linen kimono had a short lifetime, their cost continued to spiral upward, and sales began to decline. By 2007 sales were off by about 75 percent, resulting in something quite new for Japan: the appearance of low-cost kimono rental services and large numbers of retailers specializing in secondhand kimono.


     Now, a growing number of people, particularly middle-aged and older women and men, rent kimono for special occasions, including to wear while strolling around in traditional neighborhoods, to attend kabuki and noh performances, and to visit famous historical sites.     


     One traditionally styled restaurant in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka district [the Shinari] rents kimono to patrons who make reservations in advance, allowing them to have a totally traditional dining experience.


     Since many Japanese have never worn kimono before, rental services [and the Shinari restaurant] assist their patrons in putting the garments on properly. Rental fees for up to eight hours cost between $50 and $70.


     Retail shops say their bestsellers to younger women are in the $200 to $300 range, while older women are inclined to buy more expensive versions.  Some shops carry kimono made of denim as well as cotton and linen—the denim appealing more to men than to women.


     Traditional silk kimono are still made in Kyoto for really wealthy clientele, and cost up to $10,000-$15,000. If properly cared for these kimono can last for half a millennia or more and become family heirlooms, passed from generation to generation.


     Renewed interest in wearing kimono is reflective of the latent power of Japan’s traditional culture and a growing unease with the style of living and working that came with the modern economy.


     The effect that a kimono has on teenage girls and young women in particular is remarkable—their attitude and behavior changes. They must walk in a more sedate manner that is conspicuously sensual. They feel the sensuality of the colorful, form-fitting garments, and it shows in their manner.


     Both the change in the physical appearance and the behavior of young women in kimono have a subtle but powerful affect on the libido of males…which is certainly not lost on the females!


     Interestingly, a growing number of foreign women are discovering the potency of kimono and adding it to their arsenal of feminine wiles.


Copyright © 2008 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente




Boyé Lafayette De Mente is the author of more than 50 pioneer business, cultural and languages books on China, Japan, Korea and Mexico, including SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way! [available from]  To see a list and synopses of his books go to:


Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This may be because it is not kimono. It offers a highly secure technology, along with the imagination of kimono. This comes from the imagination.

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