What is Furisode? [Definition, Meaning]

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It is probably safe to say you know what a kimono is. Kimono are featured in many different anime to be worn at festivals, ceremonies, and hatsumode, but did you know there are many different types of kimono as well?

You are probably familiar with the yukata, which is the light kimono worn in the summer season to attend the Hanabi (fireworks) festival and at traditional Japanese ryokan, but have you heard of a furisode? While you may have seen many kimono in anime, you may also have seen a furisode and not have even realized it!

Definition

The kanji for furisode literally reads "swinging sleeve," which is appropriate because a furisode is a traditional Japanese kimono with long hanging sleeves. The lengths of the sleeves depend on the style of the furisode which will be discussed a little later.

Historically, furisode were worn by young children of the wealthy. Boys would wear them up until the age of 18, when they were deemed "manly" and girls would wear a furisode up until they married, where the furisode would then be converted into an appropriate kimono to wear for a married woman.

Today, furisode are given to women to show that a single woman is of marital age. Usually this is a gift to signify a woman's coming of age, although many women do rent furisode these days as they are quite expensive (approximately 1 million yen/$8,355). When the woman is married, she can have her furisode altered into a regular kimono. It is important to note, however, that furisode are generally not worn after the age of 30, but that may be due to the societal stigma involving unmarried women after the age of 30.

Style

While a furisode style may change over the years, the overall idea of a furisode is to promote youthfulness and femininity, so bright colors and floral designs are often utilized to get this point across. While the style of a furisode has changed variably over many years, the purpose of the design and the wearing of the furisode roughly stays the same. There are several types of Furisode: ofurisode, chufurisode, and kofurisode.

An ofurisode (big furisode) has longer sleeves that are about 41 inches in length which may result in it touching the ground for many. An ofurisode is also known as "hon-furisode" which means "the most formal furisode" which can be quite thick and more difficult to move around in as a result. It may also have the family crest sewn onto the fabric.

A chufurisode (medium furisode) has shorter sleeves at around 35.4 inches in length which is more practical albeit less formal than the ofurisode. The chufurisode is the most common furisode and although it is the medium furisode, the sleeves have become longer with the increasing height of Japanese girls making it almost as long as the ofurisode.

Then there's the kofurisode, whose sleeves are shorter thus making the garment more casual than both the ofurisode and chufurisode, but it can be easier to move around in and more practical. Often, a kofurisode will be worn with a hakama. The kofurisode is the least common furisode.

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Occasions to wear Furisode

Like other kimono, there are certain occasions in which to wear a furisode. The biggest occasion is Seijin no Hi or coming of age day, although it has been known to be called Adult's Day. It is a day celebrating those who have become adults in the past year, which in Japan, is the age of 20. All girls who have turned 20 years old in the last year since the last Seijin no Hi will dress in a furisode, which can be thought of as a coming of age formal dress. Think of it similar to the western debutante ball where a girl comes out to society as a woman of marriageable age.

Just so you know, Seijin no Hi occurs on the second Monday in January, and at the age of 20, women are given the right to vote, smoke and drink should they so choose. These rights are also given to men at the age of 20, so it is a big occasion to celebrate in Japan.

Other occasions to wear a furisode would be weddings (of course, not appropriate for the bride to wear a furisode), tea ceremonies, and other such special events. These are more formal events where furisode have been worn. It is unusual and impractical to wear a furisode on a normal basis, though that would really be in the interest of the wearer. Of course, going to hatsumode on New Year's is also a great occasion for wearing a furisode.

Pokemon the Series: XY

PokemonXYmovie
  • Episodes: 93
  • Aired: October 2013 - 2015

Satoshi and Pikachu are on a new journey, traveling to Miare City! On this journey they will encounter new Pokemon and take on the Kalos League while making many new friends along the way. Will they be able to make it through the Kalos League? Will Satoshi finally become a Pokemon Master? You will have to watch and find out.

In Pokemon XY the anime as well as the video game, there are Pokemon trainers called the Furisode Girl. These girls will wear cosplay-like furisode with short skirts above the knee and the customary swinging sleeves of the furisode. It actually appears to be similar to the wa-loli style of lolita fashion which adapts the traditional kimono into lolita styled clothing, which is more suitable for Pokemon battles and the adventures that come with it due to the length and practical fashion design.

It is a wonderful blend of traditional Japanese clothing and more modern tastes, which shows us how much the Japanese have adapted their traditional heritage to their modern society. You have to love that Japan does not let their traditions die with the more modern tastes; their traditions keep being reborn into more modern fashions!

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Pokémon the Series: XY Trailer


Minami-ke Okaeri

Minami-ke Okaeri dvd
  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: January 2009 - March 2009

The Minami sisters have grown up, yet still very much the same. Haruka is still the caring mother type. Kana is the troublemaker who is a little too carefree. Chiaki still enjoys having Haruka dote on her and giving Kana trouble. They are still the very much the same as ever, but the situation is different now that they have grown up. Haruka is an adult now with more responsibilities and Chiaki is no longer a child. What kind of trouble will they find themselves in?

In Minami-ke Okaeri, Haruka is now a young adult meaning she is also technically looking for a husband, although with her sisters to take care of, she probably does not have the time to. Still, it is no surprise that we get to see Haruka wearing a furisode when she goes for the annual hatsumode on New Year's day! One can only wonder if she will ever get to give up her furisode, but for now, enjoy it. Haruka is a young maiden ready to tackle the issue that is finding a soulmate!

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With DVD "Minamike" Vol. 10 Limited Edition PV

Nisekoi

Nisekoi-
  • Episodes: 20
  • Aired: January 2014 - May 2014

Raku Ichijou is not your ordinary high school student. In fact, he is the heir of a yakuza family! His yakuza family have been in conflict with a gang that has been invading their turf, so to fix the situation, Ichijou has to pretend to be romantically involved with the gang chief's daughter, Chitoge Kirisaki. The only problem is, Ichijou promised a childhood friend that that they would marry when they reunited in the future. Though it has been many years, Ichijou still dreams about that promise.

It feels appropriate that an anime about a childhood promise to marry should feature all of its lovely ladies in furisode for the Temple Festival. Everyone has the promise of marriage on their mind, so wearing the furisode is the perfect way to signify that they are coming of age into society. The furisode that these girls wear help emphasize their youthfulness and femininity. Now, just who will Ichijou choose?

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Nisekoi: Official Trailer

Conclusion

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what a furisode is. It is a coming of age formal garment worn once a single woman turns into an adult at the age of 20 until she is married. The intricate designs on a furisode promote certain aspects of a woman to make her appear marriageable.

After learning that, can you think of your favorite anime kimono girls who may actually be wearing a furisode without you know it? What do you think about the idea of a coming of age kimono? Is it outdated like coming of age ceremonies in the west or is it a part of history that should could keep on continuing?


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Jenangelx3

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Author: Jenangelx3

California based workaholic. Current mottos are “I don’t care” and “I’ll try almost anything once”. Interests include traveling, eating, video games, and weightlifting. Currently living life to the fullest, pursuing my happiness, and conquering my fears. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

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