Kimono, Japan

Kimono, Japan

Shibui (refined austerity) colours: White

White is the colour of the gods, and represents purity, sincerity and innocence. It also symbolises death.

Kimono
Japan
1980-2000
Silk, woven
Width 131 cm x height 171.5 cm
Museum no. FE.154-2002
Given by Moe Co. Ltd.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The traditional Japanese wedding ceremony takes place in a Shinto shrine and is attended by only close family members. The couple are purified, drink sake (rice wine) and the groom reads the words of committment before offerings are made to the gods. The bride wears a white under-kimono and heavy white outer-kimono known as a shiromuku, shiro meaning white and muku meaning pure. This outer-kimono has a design of a large noshi, an auspicious ornament traditionally tied to goodwill gifts, the ribbons of which cascade down the front and back of the garment. The bride's hair is also elaborately styled and she wears a hood called a tsuno kakushi. This is meant to hide her two tsuno, or horns, to symbolize obedience to her husband. After the ceremony the bride exchanges the white outer-kimono for a brightly coloured one and joins her family and friends for the reception. She may also change clothes a further time, today often into western-style wedding or party attire.