Kariginu are informal clothes worn by Court nobles in the Heian period and afterwards. "Kariginu" literally means hunting clothes, referring to its original usage. They gradually obtained popularity as informal clothes because they were suitable for physical activities. As time passed, kariginu came to be used as formal clothes, and became a formal dress for samurai of Jushiinoge jiju (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade Chamberlain) and shosidai (local governor) classes, next to hitatare (court dress). Samurai warriors were not allowed to sandai (pay a visit to the Imperial Palace) at all in kariginu, though. Today, kariginu is everyday attire of Shinto priests.
Kariginu costume comprises of underwear, sashinuki (a type of hakama, pleated trousers for formal wear) or Sashiko Japanese skirt, and kariginu. It also includes Eboshi (formal headwear for court nobles).
As kariginu are informal clothes, there was no restriction on the color or pattern of the clothes. "Forbidden colors," seven colors traditionally reserved for the imperial family and nobility, were avoided.
A costume of white kariginu and sashinuki with no pattern was called 'joe' and mainly worn in religious ceremonies.
Forms and structure
Kariginu is a cloth with agekubi (stand round collar) that has padding called 'erigami' (collar paper), as ho (outer robe/vestment) and noshi (ordinary robe). The front main panel of kariginu is made of one piece of cloth, that is half ho and noshi, while the sides are not sewn together. Sleeves are sewn to the back main panel to allow the arms to move easily. Hitoe (a single layer of kimono) can be seen from the sides, but most Shinto priests today don't wear hitoe.
Just like on ho, a button on the sleeve of kariginu is called 'kagero' (mayfly) that is passed through a hole. It distinguishes kariginu from Suikan (everyday garment worn by commoners in ancient Japan), which is similar to kariginu in its form but its sleeves are fastened by knotted strings.
Straps called 'sodekukuri' (straps to turn up one's cuffs) are passed through the sleeves, so cuffs can be narrowed by pulling the straps, as with clothes bag with straps. Young men used wider straps with brighter colors, and the older they became, the more understated the straps became.
Kariginu was worn on hitoe (or clothes made of awase, lined garment) on white kosode(a kimono with short sleeves worn as underclothing by the upper classes). A belt was made of the same cloth called 'ateobi,' and a headwear was tateeboshi (formal headwear with a peak for court nobles). Today, hakama for ordinary kariginu costume is sashinuki (a type of hakama with strings in the lower sleeve edge to be adjusted) or Sashiko (a type of hakama cut to the length of an ankle). Up to the Muromachi period, however, lower-ranking nobles wore light karibakama (hunting hakama) that were made of six pieces (sashinuki was with eight pieces) of white hemp. Some nobles of further lower ranking used four-piece karibakama.
History of Kariginu
The origin of kariginu is Hoi, a fashion of middle-class people in the capital. As the kanji letter "布 (nuno)" (cloth) refers, hoi was originally plain clothes of hemp, but nobles chose these clothes for hunting with a falcon because these were suitable for such activity. In the early Heian period, kariginu were ordinary clothes worn by retired Emperors and nobles.
In this trend, more sophisticated fabric such as figured silk was used for kariginu. Therefore, clothes worn by higher-ranking nobles were called 'kariginu' (with patterns and lined garment; kariginu for summer was made without lined garment after the Muromachi period), and others were called 'hoi' ('houi' refers to kariginu as a whole; without patterns and lined garment). However, kariginu were informal clothes worn for daily lives, so nobles were not allowed to pay a visit to the Imperial Palace in kariginu.
In the mid-Heian period, the value and aesthetic called 'Miyabi' (refinement) spread as the Kokufu Bunka (indigenous Japanese culture) flourished.
Nobles exercised their ingenuity in selecting the colors of outer and lining fabrics; which resulted in 'irome,' giving elegant names to combinations of fabrics in which the color of lining fabrics could be faintly seen through thin outer silk. In case of higher-ranking nobles, however, they were regarded as elders after their 'celebration of age 40' and allowed to use only white lining fabrics.
In the insei period (during the period of the government by the retired Emperor) in the end of the Heian period, it became common for nobles to visit In (retirement palace) in kariginu, like in noshi.
The retired Emperor himself wore kariginu, so nobles felt free to wear kariginu after the ceremony of 'hoihajime.'
It was around this period when white kosode were worn as underwear.
In the early-modern samurai society, kariginu were acknowledged as formal dress. In samurai families, kariginu were formal dress for Jushiinoge jiju rank (such as shosidai) and hoi without family crest were for hatamoto (direct vassal of the shogun); for court nobles, kariginu were worn by tenjobito (a high-ranking courtier allowed into the Imperial Palace) or higher ranking up to Dainagon (chief councilor of state) and hoi were worn when accompanying with jige (lower class nobles) to visit the Imperial Palace.
Today, kariginu is worn by Shinto priests as everyday attire.