Hakama: Traditional Japanese Gentlemen’s Clothing

Introducing "Samurai Zoroye"

Have you checked our new item “Samurai Zoroye” on our online store already?

This three-piece set of Hakama (trousers), Dougi (Kimono top) and Obi (sash belt), is perfect for the stylish gentleman who wants to incorporate the essence of Samurai into his everyday outfit! This item is made to order, and is tailored by Tobari Sewing Company, the sewing division for men’s Hakama brand Wazigen Shizukuya, which has their office inside Kyoto Handicraft Center. It is highly recommended for those who want something unique that’s not found elsewhere.

 

Some may be wondering, “Kimono sounds familiar, but what exactly is a Hakama…?”

In this article, we will introduce men’s Hakama and its history, design, as well as the meaning for those who are interested in sporting this fashionable trousers.

 

What is a Hakama?

History

The history of Hakama dates back to ancient times, and its name can be found in some of the ancient books such as Kojiki “Records of Ancient Matters”, and Nihonshoki “Chronicles of Japan”, both of which were written back in the 8th century. The oldest Hakama is said to be similar in shape to loose pants with squeezed hem worn daily during wartime. Hakama eventually changed from a practical to a ceremonial garment, and then to an everyday garment in the era of Samurai, the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). During this period, various types of Hakama were invented, such as the one for horseback riding and the one for Kendo.

 

Styles

There are two main styles of Hakama: Umanori Hakama, meaning horseback riding, which has two divided legs and looks like wide-leg trousers, and Andon Hakama, meaning lantern, which is completely tubular and looks like a long skirt.

 

Today men’s Hakama is worn for a variety of purposes. For formal use, it’s worn at weddings, coming-of-age ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, and other formal occasions. In the past, Umanori Hakama, the trousers kind, was originally worn at formal scenes, but nowadays, more Andon Hakama, the skirt kind, have been worn formally mainly for the convenience at the restroom.

Moreover, it’s also regularly worn by martial arts practitioners of Kendo, Iaido, Kyudo, Aikido, etc. Hakama for martial arts are Umanori Hakama, since it is easier to move around in. 

Our “Samurai Zoroye” Hakama is sort of a hybrid of these two kinds. The style is basically Umanori Hakama, so it is easy to move around, but it has the modern design with front zippers hidden inside a pleat, which is as convenient as Andon Hakama. In addition, when the hem is tied, it’s turned into jodhpurs-like pants, allowing you to move around even more freely and quickly like a Ninja.


Bushido influence  

Pleats and their meanings

When you look at Hakama, you might notice its distinctive pleated design. The most common men’s Hakama has five pleats in the front, and each pleat has its own meaning.

The five front pleats symbolize:

Jin - Humanity

Gi - Justice

Rei - Courtesy

Chi - Wisdom

Shin - Faith

The meanings of these five pleats are said to be based on Gorin Gojo, the five fundamental Confucian virtues and morals also practiced in Bushido, the code of Samurai.

 

In addition, what you see on the backside are two pleats dangling from the trapezoid-shaped backplate part called Koshiita, which also have special meanings.

The two back pleats symbolize:

Chu - Loyalty

Ko - Filial piety

These two concepts are said to derive from the genuine spirit of Samurai.

 

The pleats in the front and the back seem like only a design, but they actually have very deep meanings hidden in them. Since it is related to Bushido, it clearly applies to the martial arts Hakama, but any of the five pleated ones that are commonly worn are based upon these Confucian / Bushido concepts.

 

Now, please try a Hakama!

 

Now that you have learned a lot about Hakama and its background, do you feel like giving it a try? In this article, we shared with you the very long history of Hakama, its styles, and lastly the significant meanings of the pleats. We hope this article has been helpful for you and has sparked your interest in wearing Hakama. Last but not the least, we will share with you a tutorial video explaining how to wear our Hakama “Samurai Zoroye.” If you have never worn it before, don’t worry—it is subtly modernized and you can learn how to wear it easily. Please try a pair of this authentic Japanese gentlemen’s clothing and feel the true spirit of Samurai!

 

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