What is houmongi?
Houmongi is a type of kimono which was first created in the Taisho period; one can say it is a relatively new kind in the history of kimono. Up until that period, there were only 2 kinds of kimono; formal tomesode and casual komon.
As the popularity of Western clothes soared, there was an increasing demand for kimono that was not as prestigious as tomesode. Thus, “houmongi (visiting wear)” was created.
Who can wear houmongi? Where can you wear houmongi to??
Houmongi can be worn both by married and single women, and it is considered as a semi-formal dress for social events. It is called the second-class formal wear.
There are various colors and patterns of houmongi, and it is a very beautiful type of kimono. Houmongi is a great choice for social events such as a wedding ceremony, a class reunion, a marriage interview, a tea party, visiting someone’s house and various parties.
Tsukesage and houmongi look very much alike, although houmongi is regarded as more formal. If you put a family crest on houmongi, it would be considered as the same class as iro tomesode. You do not need to put on a family crest unless you would like it to be very formal; there would not be many places where you can wear it to.
Patterns and colors of houmongi
Houmongi is created by the method called “eba”; all the patterns on a kimono continues as if it is one big picture regardless of seam or stitch. “Eba” is a kind of pattern-making in kimono, and refers to the way a pattern continues on a seam. A pattern is drawn like a painting.
In old times, it was often said that “young people should wear houmongi in gorgeous colors with a lot of patterns all over it, something close to sou eba moyou (eba pattern painted all over a kimono), while older people should wear houmongi with only simple patterns at the bottom, or houmongi in chic colors”; however, this is not always the case any more☺
Types of houmongi for each season
Japan has four seasons. For that, there are three types of houmongi, called “awase”, “hitoe” and “ro”.
“Awase” is a comparatively thick kimono with a lining worn in spring, autumn and winter.
“Hitoe” is a kimono worn in between seasons, such as June and September. “Ro” is a summer kimono made of fabrics which breathe well, without a lining. As you can see, there are different kinds of kimono for each season; however, as air conditioning has spread, many people opt to wear awase regardless of season these days.
If you are purchasing houmongi in Japan, why not take the temperature of your country into consideration and choose the right fabric for it?
Wear houmongi and stand out vividly
Houmongi is a kimono worn on a variety of occasions regardless of age. It is important to choose a houmongi which suits the occasion, not to mention the fact that you should understand the class of houmongi. Also, houmongi comes in various colors and patterns. You might have a difficult time choosing the one to wear, but the important tip is to select a color you would feel comfortable wearing, for wearing a kimono does make you stand out from the crowd. Do not choose a color based only on your shape or age; it is crucial to pick a color which you like, which looks great on you, and which you feel comfortable in.
Wear a houmongi of your favorite color, and participate in some party or a class reunion! No doubt you will be the talk of the party!