|Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation|
|(n) fine pattern|
Komon literally means "small print". This term applies to any kimono with a print covering the entire surface of the kimono, with no particular direction or layout. The actual design can be any kind of pattern or weave -- "komon" is only an umbrella classification.
- Repeating all-over pattern.
- Stripes (horizontal or vertical).
- Larger patterns are for younger people.
- Made from linen, hemp, wool, synthetic and silk.
- Ranges from around the house casual (fudangi) to semi-formal.
- Bokashi komon - A komon where the design consist only of colour gradations (bokashi). The more subtle the gradations are and the more uniform the impression, the closer the piece is to iromuji.
- Edo Komon - A komon consisting of tiny dots that create a subtle design and look to be a solid colour from a distance. Edo Komon and are closer to iromuji in formality.
- Eba Komon - A komon where the design is "one direction" and always "right side up" along with the pattern being carefully matched over the seams to create a seamless look. Depending on the fabric type, Eba komon could be considered semi-formal due to the time and care placed in the construction. Often geometrics.
- Tsukesage Komon - A komon where the design is all facing the same direction, discernibly right side up. This means that the motif has to change orientation at the shoulder so that it remains upright on both sides of the body.
During the Greater Taisho Era there was a lot more ambiguously and variety between design and formality and often an odd piece that seems to be a cross between komon and houmongi or irotomesode seems to pop up. During this era, there was a stylistic movement for formal kimono with vertical stripes. The stripes could either be dyed into the background fabric or in form of silver or gold urushi pinstripes and the feature design by way of houmongi or irotomesode pattern placement.
By modern day standards, stripes are generally classed as informal and are usually only seen on komon, however these antique pieces should not be considered komon and their formality levels should be considered along the same lines as either houmongi or irotomesode, with the number of kamon (if any) featured taken into account.
Not all hybrid variations are with stripes, however. There have been those with irotomesode pattern placement with small, yuzen petals scattered over the body, or those with an interesting all over repeat weave with irotomesode pattern placement. Again, formality and TPO should be determined by the type of pattern, the type of weave and how many kamon.
Red and white yabane silk komon
Modern mauve and plum striped synthetic komon with winter and spring flowers and yukiwa
Royal purple ro komon with yuri (lilies)
Variation & Hybrid Examples
Another Taisho example that combines houmongi designs with an all-over urushi weave, this time in a large windowpane plaid in red and gold. This kimono should be treated as hōmongi.
This particular Showa era piece is can be a little complex to place. The concentric circles can at first give you the impression of a komon, however technically it is not an all over repeating pattern. This, along with the addition of the rose on the front and shoulder (not seen in the photo) and embroidered gold thread puts this kimono into the hōmongi category..
Formality & TPO
While komon are casual kimono, they are considered one of the most versatile pieces in a kimono wardrobe (along with Iromuji). Depending on the fabric type, motif type and size, and variation of komon, it can be dressed up with appropriate accessories to increase formality.
When deciding upon wearing a komon to an event, it is important to take into consideration appropriate formality of the komon: whether the piece is considered Fudangi or semi-formal. For instance, it would be inappropriate to wear a casual wool Kasuri komon to a wedding reception as it is considered Fudangi and Townwear, but it would be appropriate to wear a silk or synthetic komon with larger patterns, especially if the motifs are of celebratory nature.
TPO - Within Japan
|Occasion|| Semi- Formal
|Hotel Wedding Reception||Yes||OK||No|
|Restaurant Wedding Reception||Yes||Yes||No|
|Errands (grocery shopping, etc)||No||OK||Yes|
|Around The House||No||Yes||Yes|
| Yes - Acceptable to wear. |
OK - OK to wear, providing you have no suitable alternatives.
No - Unacceptable to wear.
Relevant Threads / Discussions
Authors & Contributors
Author/s: Naomi Graham Hormozi (Immortal Geisha (IG Username))
Contributors: Erica Pai (Iyolin (IG Username))