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Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Romaji Hakama
Kana はかま
Audio Coming Soon
(n) pleated skirt for wearing with kimono

Hakama is a general term for pleated skirt-like garments worn with kimono by both men and women. There are two broad categories of hakama: divided (馬乗り umanori or "horse-riding" hakama), which are constructed like very wide trousers; and undivided (行灯袴 andon bakama, literally lantern hakama) which are constructed like a wide skirt; both have the same appearance when worn. Hakama are tied at the waist using four himo, and fall to the ankles.

Hakama were originally one part of an outfit called a kamishimo (上下 or 裃, literally upper and lower). Worn by men of high rank, the hakama was paired with a matching stiff, sleeveless jacket known as a kataginu (肩衣).

Hakama are worn by men with all types of kimono except yukata. In general terms, wearing hakama increases the formality of an outfit, so men typically wear hakama to very formal events, including tea ceremonies, weddings and funerals. Women wear hakama less frequently than men, and almost exclusively at graduation ceremonies. Female shrine attendants also wear hakama. Both men and women wear hakama for certain Japanese martial arts, including archery and aikido.

Men's hakama

Page from 1938 Shufu no Tomo (主婦之友) illustrating men's kimono fashion.

Hakama used to be a required part of men's daily wear, a tradition which ended during the Edo period when men of certain ranks, such as doctors, began forgoing hakama. This is reflected in tea ceremony, in which hakama are typically required for male practitioners below a certain rank; men above a certain rank are permitted to wear a haori-like garment called a jittoku or juttoku instead.

Men wear both umanori and andon-bakama with kimono. For use with kimono, men's hakama are most often either a single (usually subdued) colour, or have dark and light vertical stripes. The most formal hakama are striped silk, but hakama can be made of cotton, hemp, polyester and other fabrics. Men's hakama always have a koshi-ita, a very stiff rectangular section at the back which rests at the small of the back above the obi. A small plastic or bone toggle is often attached to the koshi-ita on the inside of the hakama; this is tucked into the top of the obi to keep the hakama in place.

Wearing men's hakama

Ideally, the obi is tied in an ichimonji, which is centred at the back. The kimono is tucked up into the obi at the back. The hakama is then secured to the body using the four hakama himo: first, the two front himo are crossed over the knot of the obi at the back, then crossed again at the front, and finally tied below the knot of the obi at the back, and the loose ends tucked into the obi. Then, the toggle is tucked into the top of the obi and the koshi-ita secured above the knot. The two back himo are brought to the front, crossed under the already tied front himo, and secured in various ways. The most formal knot is a jūnoji, which resembles the kanji for the number 10. Less formal knots include the ichimonji, which resembles a bow tie, and the simple square knot.

Formality and TPO (men)

TPO - Within Japan

Occasion Acceptable
Hotel Wedding Reception Yes
Restaurant Wedding Reception Yes
Formal Party Yes
Casual Party Yes
Dinner Yes
Lunch Yes
Tea Gathering Yes
Graduation Ceremony Yes
Practice Yes
Theatre, Concert Yes
Exhibition Yes
Travel Yes
Yes - Acceptable to wear.
OK - OK to wear if no suitable alternatives.
No - Unacceptable to wear.

Women's hakama

Women's hakama for use with kimono differ from men's in various ways. Women exclusively wear the undivided andon-bakama style of hakama. Women's hakama usually lack the stiff koshi-ita characteristic of men's hakama, and often the toggle as well. In addition, women's hakama are not usually striped, but may be dyed more than one colour (which may be considerably brighter than those typically worn by men) and may incorporate dyed, woven or embroidered designs.

Wearing women's hakama

Women typically tie their hakama considerably higher than men. The method of tying also differs, with women using looser and more decorative knots.

Formality & TPO (women)

TPO - Within Japan

Occasion Acceptable
Hotel Wedding Reception No
Restaurant Wedding Reception No
Formal Party No
Casual Party No
Dinner No
Lunch No
Tea Gathering No
Graduation Ceremony Yes
Practice No
Theatre, Concert No
Exhibition No
Travel No
Yes - Acceptable to wear.
OK - OK to wear if no suitable alternatives.
No - Unacceptable to wear.

Other types of hakama


Martial arts

For martial arts men and women wear the same style of hakama; they are worn over a martial arts uniform called a gi (also called a keikogi or dōgi) which typically comprises a simple narrow-sleeved white or black jacket called an uwagi, which is secured with ties at the waist; a belt known as an obi; and short trousers called zubon. On ceremonial occasions, practitioners of some martial arts replace the narrow-sleeved uwagi with one which has kimono-style sleeves. Martial arts hakama are typically the divided style, have a koshi-ita, and are usually made of cotton or synthetic fabrics dyed indigo, navy or black. The himo are generally shorter and wider than the himo on men's hakama worn with kimono, and they are usually tied in a simple knot at the front. In some martial arts hakama are part of the required uniform for all practitioners, while in others practitioners gain the right to wear hakama when they achieve a particular rank.



Hakama Examples

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Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Erica Pai (Iyolin (IG Username))

Contributors: Naomi Graham Hormozi (Immortal Geisha (IG Username))