Uneme Costume (采女装束)

Uneme costume is a costume for Uneme, a court lady selected among Gozoku (local ruling families) who served in the inner palace as a waiting staff of the emperor in ancient times. It was during the latter half of Edo period that Uneme started to wear a costume.

Compared with juni-hitoe (twelve-layered ceremonial kimono) worn by nyobo (a court lady) who mainly worked as a brainworker in the same inner palace, the Uneme costume was short-length, allowing mobility for Uneme who worked while walking around. ONO no Komachii during the Jidai-matsuri Festival wore an Uneme costume during the early Heian period.

Since the Uneme costume was simple allowing mobility, it is said that present-day costume for female Shinto priest was based on the Uneme costume.

We will describe the costume that Uneme wore in Shinto rituals after the Meiji period.


From the bottom to the top
Shitozu: White socks made of silk. Unlike tabi, the toes of Shitozu are not parted.

Hitoe: Kimono without a lining. The hem of Hitoe should be tucked into Hakama.

kiri-hakama (short fringe hakama): Hakama with hems almost reaching the instep and it is like a wide-legged trousers. Kiri-hakama was made to use nejimachi method; the hems are rolled up and glued instead of sewing while the upper part was tucked.

Eginu (silk canvas): a white short-length ue no kinu (silk robe) composed of white neriginu (glossy silk) with patterns of clouds, pine trees, and Camellia and a suzushi (raw silk products that were thinly made) lining in moegiiro (a light green color). The shape of Eginu was same as that of Hitoe; it was tucked out when worn.

Karaginu: a short-length jacket that was used as a part of the costume for nyobo. Uneme wore Karaginu in white with patterns of blue water waves, and tied up choma (hemp) obi (long draping sash) around her waist.

Chihaya (Japanese coat for female priests): a white thin silk top which was pulled over one's head, and its collars were layered like Kimono. It is sleeveless unlike the top that is worn by miko (shrine maiden).

kamiage no gu (a set of hair ornaments): hirabitai ornament, sashi (ornate hairpin), a comb, like those used for a doll display during the Girls' Festival. A branch of plum called Kokoroba and thread-like hair ornaments called `hikage no ito' which was hung beside one's face were attached to Kamiage no gu in Uneme costume.

The description of the Uneme costume is mentioned above.