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Beauty in Summer Kimono

Beauty in Summer Kimono

Beauty in Summer Kimono by Kunichika Toyohara (1869)


The beauty in this print is shown wearing a light summer kimono. The summer months can be extremely hot in Japan so this young woman is trying to find the best way to cool herself. She is shown with an open fan, an auspicious symbol of opening to good fortune, and with pulled up sleeves and opened collar to be refreshed. 

Kunichika cleverly uses an intense red background to further emphasise the sense of intense Summer heat. With her hair slightly falling by the side of her face, one can perhaps sense her discomfort from the hot weather.

Kimono had to be adapted to varying seasonal weather: in winter warmer fabrics were used, and people added more layers to their outfits. Summer kimono, called yukata, were made from lighter fabrics, such as cotton, and were worn with very light or no undergarments. Today people wear them to festivals in Summer. They are affordable, easy to clean and keep the body cool. In modern times, you might notice, it is for these reasons that sumo wrestlers are seen usually wearing such kimonos in their daily lives.

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