Vintage Japanese Wedding Kimono | Uchikake

Overview
Throughout history, Japanese marital systems have gone through quite an evolution, along with changes in Japanese social systems and conditions. The most important and historical change was brought about through the rise of “bushi” warriors in the 13th and 14th centuries, which led to a change from the old practice of “muko-iri” to the new practice of “yome-iri”. That is, instead of the groom joining the bride’s family (“muko-iri”), the bride would join the groom’s family (“yome-iri”) after the birth of a child or the loss of a parent.

The Uchikake—
Of all the many types of formal and informal kimono, none is as beautiful and ornately decorated as the wedding kimono, nor as extremely sought after by collectors and designers. Today, because of the cost of design and fabrication, most families rent the Uchikake for their daughter’s wedding. However, rentals still cost around $5,000US. In Western countries collectible robes like this are typically used as textile wall art.

Historically, then, for the young Japanese woman entering marriage, the wedding kimono, (Uchikake), would be the most dramatic piece of clothing ever worn in her life. After the Meiji period, (1868-1912), the Uchikake evolved from a light robe worn by the upper class into a very elaborate, embroidered, and unbelted silk robe. With a thickly padded hem, and long flowing sleeves, (the younger the bride, the longer the sleeves), this Uchikake silk kimono is sumptuously covered with flowers and auspicious symbols according to the season. However, unlike it’s theatrical counterpart, the wedding kimono always has cranes, (Tsuru), as a major theme, for cranes mate for life, and to the Japanese, there’s no better symbol to ensure a long, happy marriage.

During the ceremony itself, the padded hem of the Uchikake kimono glides along behind the bride, spreading out like a fan. The bride must be assisted by an attendant to walk in such a heavy kimono. The predominant flower on this beautiful Uchikake is shimmering wisteria blossoms, a sure sign of Spring, as wisteria is the flower for April in Japan. Along with cranes, the kimono also has embroidered chrysanthemum (Kiku), cherry blossomsbamboo and pine, all floating on a turquoise ground, with the interior lining in vermilion colored silk. Approximate age: Vintage – 1930s. Condition: Excellent. Dimensions: 75” long x 53” wide (approximately 7-10lbs.)

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