Konoshi (小直衣)

A konoshi is a kariginu robe on which a ran (horizontally-wrapped fabric forming the bottom part) similar to that of a ho (a round-necked robe) or a noshi (an unlined, long-sleeved garment) has been stitched. Konoshi' is the name used when it is worn by an imperial prince.

It is also known as a kariginu noshi, kannoonzo (only when worn by a retired emperor) and sobatsugi (when worn by a daijinke (a minister)).

Wearing a Konoshi

The fabric quality and color tones of the konoshi are the same as those used on the kariginu. The sodekukuri (straps used to turn up the cuffs) are also similar. However, whereas kariginu are tied using a kakae-obi (front-tied kimono sash) made from the same fabric used for the shitagasane (the outer and most important of three kimonos worn under the ho) of the sokutai (old ceremonial court dress), konoshi are tied using an obi (kimono sash) made from exactly the same cloth as the garment.

The name "noshi" refers to a specific type of kariginu that is worn with an eboshi (black-lacquered headgear) but is usually not worn with a kanmuri (elaborate ceremonial headgear). It could be worn at the palace or private residence of a retired emperor, but from the time of its inception (the end of the Heian period) to the end of Edo period it generally wasn't worn within the Imperial Palace.

It was devised at the very end of the Heian period with the intention of being worn at the residence of a retired emperor. However, it came to be worn by others during the middle ages, including by sekke (regents and advisers) after being appointed daijin, as well as by ordinary seigake (court nobles ranking below sekke, who became Konoe no Daisho (Major Captain of the Palace Guards) before being made daijin) after being appointed taisho (general), and by daijinke (nobles ranked seigake who became Konoe no Daisho before being made daijinke) after their appointment to that status. According to writings dating from the early Muromachi period, retired emperors were able to wear konoshi and kariginu at will, but it was generally the case that those ranking below sekke would no longer wear kariginu after they began wearing konoshi following their appointment to the status of daijin or taisho. After the Kamakura period, konoshi were considered more informal than kariginu; however, in contrast to kariginu, which were worn with the sashinuki (a type of hakama meant to be worn with blousing over the leg and exposing the foot) fastened in the 'gegukuri' style (hem tied at the ankle) on formal occasions and in the 'shokukuri' style (hem tied at the shin) on informal occasions, konoshi were always worn in the 'shokukuri' style. Therefore at 'hoihajime' ceremony in which an emperor began wearing kariginu for the first time after he abdicated (an emperor wouldn't wear kariginu or konoshi during his reign), a minister who had to wear konoshi instead of kariginu wouldn't wear konoshi but instead wore noshi with an eboshi. During the Muromachi period, ministers came to wear white oguchi-bakama (wide-legged hakama) in addition to konoshi and sashinuki hakama. Konoshi would also be worn by a family member of the Ashikaga shogunate on being appointed as a general.

In the early modern period, konoshi were worn by retired emperors and imperial princes, by ministers and generals (just as they did in the middle ages), and there are also examples of it being worn by Jun-daijin (vice ministers, Gido-sanshi ministers). The role of konoshi as a more informal garment than kariginu was forgotten in the early modern period when, since the time of the retired emperors Gosai and Reigen, it came to be worn by retired emperors following abdication, but the sashinuki was also worn in the shokukuri style.

The Tokugawa shogunate family was the first not to wear konoshi, but Ienobu TOKUGAWA wore it on occasions such as Buddhist memorial services and meetings with the Ryukyu emissary. Yoshimune TOKUGAWA briefly abandoned this practice, but it was revived by Ienari and continued as an established custom. Since the time of Ienari, the konoshi owned by the Tokugawa family were very extravagant; however, new ones were procured each year. The pattern used can be seen in books such as those kept at the Imperial Household Archives and in the possession of the Matsuoka family.

It appears that konoshi were worn within the Imperial Palace during the Meiji Restoration, but soon they came to be used only during festivals. However, Emperor Meiji wore konoshi as noshi informal wear. The fabric was the same as that used in casual imperial wear (white koaoi mon aya (a type of arabesque pattern) cloth with bluish purple plain-silk lining in winter and bluish purple or light-blue mie dasuki (a triple design of crossed swords) silk gauze in summer), and was worn with a kanmuri adorned with gold-leaf paper, white short sleeves and red oguchi-bakama. The konoshi worn by Emperor Meiji was worn instead of a noshi, so it had no sodekukuri.

In modern times, emperors appear dressed as described above at the yoori ritual held twice each year. A konoshi is also worn by the Imperial Family during the rehearsal for the enthronement ceremony (on this occasion it is worn with a tateeboshi (formal headwear with a peak), a sashiko (hakama on which the sashinuki hem reaches the ankles and is not tied) and uhiri (black leather shoes)), and when members of the Imperial Family serve as Shinto priests such as the head priest of Ise-jingu Shrine. However, these are extremely rare occasions.

Nowadays, konoshi are often worn by the priests of Shinto shrines that are outside the jurisdiction of the Association of Shinto Shrines. Because it isn't part of the system laid down by the Association of Shinto Shrines, it is worn in various styles, including with a kanmuri or eboshi. One example is the konoshi made from black fabric like a ho and worn with a kanmuri, which is used by the Kuni no Miyatsuko (Provincial Magistrate) of Izumo Province during the kagura (ancient Shinto music and dancing) of the ancient Niiname-sai festival (the Harvest Festival).