Haori (羽織)

The haori coat is a kind of traditional Japanese clothes. It is put over a nagagi (full-length garment) or a kosode (standard sized kimono of today) for protection against the cold or as a ceremonial dress. Although used in the late Muromachi period, it has reached it's present form only in the early modern age.

Etymologically speaking, it is the noun form of the verb 'haoru' (put on), however, the kanji characters are substitute characters.

Origin and Structure

There are various opinions about its origin, and similar things before its emergence include dofuku, juttoku, and so on.

Moreover, it is structurally impossible to completely tie the mae-migoro (front main panel), thus it is characterized by a cord used to tie in the front. This string might be sewn into the cloth and made of the same fabric as the haori coat, however generally, there is a special braided cord (haori cord) attached to a small circular cloth or metal fitting called 'chi' (nipple). Traditionally it was tied directly. However, nowadays, it is commonly held together with S-shaped metal fittings. It is assumed to be fashionable that these strings can be exchanged according to TPO and the prevailing trend.

Men and Haori Coat

From the Shoku-Ho Era, it was worn by Sengoku warlords forprotection against the cold in the battlefield. The coat was worn on top of the armor. Probably because of its convenience, people came to wear it even in daily life. At the time, it was not called 'haori,' rather, it was called 'dofuku' (body coat).

It was ranked under hitatare (samurai's large square-cut coat with cord laced sleeve edges) for seeing the shogun, daimon (daimyo's formal costume consisting of wide sleeved jacket with family crests), suo (formal middle rank dress, usually including jacket and hakama) and kamishimo (a sleeveless upper garment; formal occasion attire consisted of "upper and lower"), which is also said to be a uniform for the samurai class, and eventually was treated as casual clothing. On the other hand, apart from being a part of a uniform for the samurai class, the combination of a haori and a hakama with family crests was the kamishimo.

Nowadays, seldom do people in general wear a kamishimo except for festivals or costume plays. However, the custom of wearing a combination of a haori and a hakama with family crests as ceremonial dress for men continues even in the present age.

Juttoku-haori

It is a kind of traditional Japanese coat worn on top of long clothes. Its shape is like the haori coat. However, it has a peculiar tailoring in that a silk gauze is used for the fabric, the string is sewn on the cloth, and gathers are attached at the waist portion. It is also called hirosode (wide sleeve).

It appeared during the Kamakura Period and was worn as plain clothes. However, when the Edo period came, it was worn as formal dress by priests, doctors, painters, Confucian scholars, and tea ceremony leaders. It is worn on top of kinagashi (informal dress) or naga-hakama (long hakama trailing the ground).

Even nowadays, it is often used in tea ceremonies of the merchant class.

Women and Haori Coat

Because the haori coat originated as a military dress in the Sengoku period (period of warring states), hardly did women wear this during the Edo period, and Uchikake (long outer robe) was entirely used as women's jacket.

The exception was the so-called Fukagawa geisha (Japanese professional female entertainer at drinking party); since about mid Edo period, the geishas in this region wore the haori coat, and this became a local specialty. Over time, woman's haori coat gradually spread to the world of the geisha. However, this became generally widely worn only after Meiji Era.

Probably because of such origins, the uchikake, which was originated and developed as coat to protect against the cold, it is still used nowadays even at wedding ceremonies, while the haori coat is not yet admitted as a formal dress for a woman (except for black haori with family crests, as described later).

There has been a trend in the length of the woman's haori coat; from 1868 to 1926, a long haori coat extending down to the knees was popular, and around 1955, the short haori coat with the hidden belt became popular. Afterwards, because kimono was not worn in daily life, haori coats were not made. However, because of the antique kimono boom in recent years, the haori coat appeared and stole the limelight again. And this boom during several years up to 2004 or 2005 was in favor of the long haori coat.

Haori Coat with Black Family Crest

From 1868 to around 1975, the haori coat was widely used by married women. Although it is mostly black like the haori for men with family crests, it is a dyed coat with only one white family crest on the back side. Since it has become formal attire when wearing it with any kimono, it is popular among housewives. Until around 1975, mothers in these haori coats attended entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies of their children, however, it declined in a flash, afterwards, and now is almost never seen.

During the Edo period, the plain colored all black fabric with five family crests was used as a ceremonial dress rather than a mourning dress, and it is thought that there was a region that spread the haori coat with a black family crest.

Haori Coat Grounder and Haori Coat Yakuza

During the Meiji period, the haori coat was a pronoun for splendid kimono.
Therefore, for a person who was dressed up well but behaved like hoodlum, the term 'Haori Goro' (Haori coat hoodlum) was used ("Shakai Hyakumenso" (100 Social Facets) by Roan UCHIDA and so on)
Moreover, small newspapers in the pioneer days had social influence and they occasionally acted aggressive, thus the word 'Haori coat yakuza' was used by the press reporters.