Kanji of the Day: 右(みぎ/う) migi/u (right)

Despite the fact that Kimono is still a significant part of today’s Japanese culture, I feel like not very many people, including myself, know how to properly wear them. I especially get confused when wrapping the kimono (the robe) around the body: was the left side supposed to be on top of the right side or was it the other way around?

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Well, the answer is you always have to wrap kimono with the left side over the right side, unless you are dressing the deceased for burial. This rule is called 右前 (migi mae), meaning “right (side) before”. The word itself may confuse you a little, but it means that you must wrap the right side before the left side, hence the left side always end up being on top of the other side. It is a very simple rule, yet very important because if you did it the other way around, your kimono becomes 死に装束 (shini syouzoku) or grave clothes, which obviously is a bad luck. This rule also applies to both men and women, and also to when wearing other types of kimono such as 浴衣 (yukata – summer time kimono) and 振り袖 (furisode – a very formal kimono for women worn at coming-of-age ceremonies ).

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If you ever get a chance to wear  kimono (even though it‘s not necessarily fun to have the thick obi (sash) tightly wrapped around your stomach :P), always remember to make sure that it’s 右前 🙂

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