5th Juni-Hitoe (layered kimono) Traditional Dress Workshop

The Center for Japanese Language and Culture held a special workshop on how to wear Juni-Hitoe (twelve layered kimono) traditional dress at the Japanese tatami-mat room of the center on December 12, 2018.

The 5th workshop was attended by around 40 people including international students studying at the center's Japanese Language & Culture Studies Course, Japanese Society & Culture Program, and those from faculties/schools, Japanese students, teaching and administrative members. Students from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) and the National University of Malaysia (UKM) also attended the workshop. They are studying at Gifu University for the 4th Winter School program started on December 4 (until December 21).

Based on the center's concept "Experience the Real," the workshop is considered as an experience-based Japanese culture class for the university students. Four instructors, including Ms. Keiko Ito and Ms. Chisato Sato, who specialize in teaching kimono-wearing, were invited to the workshop. All instructors wore montsuki hakama (formal kimono with a traditional Japanese family crest and a divided skirt). Their dress, together with the traditional court music of gagaku, enhanced the solemn mood in the room.

First, Professor Momoko Tsuchiya of the center spoke about the history of Juni-Hitoe as well as basic facts about kimono in Japanese and English. Second, as a model, Ms Saokumkate Supawadee from Thailand (a student of Japanese Language & Culture Studies Course), walked into the room. She worn kosode (short-sleeved kimono) and hakama (divided skirt), put on a special makeup, and a coronet on her head.

The instructors deftly dressed Ms. Saokumkate in Juni-Hitoe consisting of hitoe (unlined kimono), itsutsuginu (five-layer undergarment), uwagi (outer garment), karaginu (waist-length robe) and mo (long pleated skirt), all the while paying their respects to Ms. Saokumkate, who played a role of okatasama (the royal personage). The international students intently watched her being dressing up in the gorgeous kimono of red and green. At the Question and Answer session, many questions were raised from the participants. They were: "How do people in Juni-Hitoe use bathroom?" "What are the meanings of colors and patterns in kimono?" Ms. Ito gave answers to every question very politely. Later in a photo session, the participants and instructors took pictures with Ms Saokumkate who was holding a hiougi (painted wooden fan) in hand.

Juni-Hitoe can be taken off smoothly, as the garments are not laced up. Juni-Hitoe that has been taken off is called an utsusemi (cast-off shell of a cicada) because it looks as if someone is sitting still. Some international students -even men- tried putting on the utsusemi. They actually felt the weight of Juni-Hitoe and took many pictures with one another.

This workshop provided a rare opportunity for the participants to appreciate the depth and profundity of Japanese traditional culture. We hope that this kind of unique workshop will enrich Japanese culture education for students, teaching and administrative staff of the university.

Instructors dressing Ms. Saokumkate
Students at Japanese Language & Culture Studies Course and
Ms. Saokumkate
Winter School students and Ms. Saokumkate
Commemorative photo


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