[Japanese Kimono Terminology Series#02] The meaning of kitsuke

清水一人着物普及社
5 min readAug 3, 2021

( From this passage now on, the word ‘Wafuku’ will be used to refer to all the traditional Japanese clothing, while ‘kimono’ will be used to specify ‘nagagi’, a type of Japanese traditional clothing in which it is long till the ankle. If you have any doubts, you are welcome to check my previous English passage.)

To know more, please feel free to check this:

Hi, everybody! I am Clearwater(清水)! Is there anyone who have dressed in a kimono before when you travel to Japan? If you do, do you remember there is always a person standing next to you to help you dress your kimono? Even though you don’t have such an experience, it’s totally fine. Because I am here to introduce this person to you!

The person wearing in black is kitsukeshi ( source: Photoac)

This person, who always stands next to you, helping you to dress your kimono up is called kitsukeshi( Japanese: 着付師/着付け師,Romaji: Kitsukeshi). Kitsukeshi is an expert who knows the skills of ‘kitsuke’. They understand the knowledge and hold the actual skills of ‘jisou’ and ‘tasou’. Kitsukeshi normally appears when someone needs to wear a kimono. Due to this, they normally work at places that are related to the kimono, such as gofukuyan or in the photo studio. Some will also open their own kitsuke school to teach people the art and actual skills of ‘jisou’ nd ‘tasou’, letting more people know how to wear kimonos by themselves or acquire the skills of helping others to wear them.

So actually, what are ‘kitsuke’, ‘jisou’ and ‘tasou’?

Maybe you already have some thoughts on it.

Kitsuke ( Japanese:着付け,Romaji: Kitsuke)
The act of dressing a kimono is called kitsuke. Whether you dress a kimono up by yourself or help others to dress it, both are referred to as ‘kitsuke’.

Jisou ( Japanese: 自装 , Romaji: Jisou)
The way you dress a kimono by yourself.

Tasou( Japanese:他装,Romaji:Ta sou)
The way you dress a kimono for others.

Jisou (Source: photoac)
Tasou ( Source: photoac)

Do Japanese wear kimonos normally?
Actually even if Japanese, they might not know how to wear a kimono or even like to wear it. However, there are still some of them who enjoy wearing kimono as daily clothing. There are still a majority who want to wear it , but lack the basic knowledge of kimono. Based on such reason, they need to go to the kitsuke school to learn kitsuke, in order to dress in kimono everyday.

When to jisou and tasou?
Normal people, who don’t know how to dress themselves up, will find kitsukeshi for help. People who like to wear kimonos normally know how to jisou, so they just dress themselves up when they need to hang out in informal situations. Yet, if it is in formal situations, such as a wedding ceremony, seijinshiki ( a coming of age ceremony in Japan, celebrating all the young teenagers of 20 turning into an adult in Japan), or photo shooting, you are advised to look for a kitsukeshi. In Japan, the Japanese will consider TPO ( T=Time, P=Place, O= Occasion) to choose what to wear for any occasion. Kimono is also divided into different ‘gaku’, kimono’s dressing occasion categories. Japanese really have a lot of strict rules on manners. As a foreigner, you might not have ideas on Japanese manners. In such a situation, you can ask a kitsukeshi to give you advice and knowledge on TPO, gaku, and Japanese manners. Kitsukeshi helps you to dress your kimono properly, make sure there are no creases on it.

The learning sequence

Learn jisou first and tasou the second.

Is it easy to learn jisou?
Well, I can only say, if you’re gonna try, you can succeed. Japanese in the old days wore kimono every day as daily clothing. So, if you try, I believe you can make it!

Is it easy to learn tasou?
I can only say, it is easy to learn but takes time to master. Knowing how to dress by yourself well doesn’t mean you know how to dress others up properly. You can dress yourself up well, maybe just because you are used to jisou and know what kind of kimono suits you. Still, when helping with others, you need to have more knowledge on kimono, such as choosing the proper kimono for others to wear based on their skin colour, age group, body, and preference. These are knowledgeable intelligence kitsukeshi need to gain through oncoming study and through their experience.

Where can I learn kitsuke?
Just as I have mentioned before, people who would like to learn ‘kitsuke’ can go to the kitsuke school to learn the skill. If you understand Japanese, you can just go to Youtube and search ‘kitsuke’, then you can see a lot of results.

Nonetheless, I still recommend everyone to go to kitsuke school to learn their skills. Even if you can learn jisou for free on Youtube, you might face obstacles when learning it. At this point, Kitsukeshi, as a teacher, can guide you.

Japanese Kimono Terminology for today

Kitsukeshi ( Japanese: 着付師/着付け師,Romaji: Kitsukeshi)
Experts who know the art and skills of wearing kimonos by themselves and for others.

Kitsuke school ( Japanese: 着付け教室,Romaji: Kitsuke kyoushitsu)
School where you can learn kitsuke, normally held by kitsukeshi.

Kitsuke ( Japanese:着付け,Romaji: Kitsuke)
The act of dressing a kimono is called kitsuke. Whether you dress a kimono up by yourself or help others to dress it, both are referred to as ‘kitsuke’.

Jisou ( Japanese: 自装 , Romaji: Jisou)
The way you dress a kimono by yourself.

Tasou( Japanese:他装,Romaji:Tasou)
The way you dress a kimono for others.

Others passages are in my list:

Thanks for reading!

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清水一人着物普及社

本社志力盡量推廣着物。盡自己能力盡快更新。作者: 玻璃心清水=‌ ‌90‌後‌廢‌清‌,‌喜‌歡‌普‌段‌着‌着‌物‌,‌和‌洋‌折‌衷‌ 社員:(過期wet妹)加姐+(宇宙級mean精)亞妹=上頭認定(紅不起)Kol組合。還有壓軸的尊貴上頭。 IG:clearwaterheartofglass