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Revision as of 17:47, 25 May 2012 by SuperGrouper (talk | contribs) (corrected a minor detail regarding the nagabakama; added link to relevant kasane no irome page in section mentioning colors)

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The jūnihitoe (十二単衣, twelve-layer robe) was a type of court attire worn by women in the Heian era (794 to 1185 CE). Rather than a type of robe, it was a complete outfit which consisted of layers of coloured silk kimono worn over an under-robe of white silk and topped with a coat. The layers of colours were visible at the sleeves and neck and were very important: they reflected the seasons and were an indication of a lady's taste, style, and rank. This system of colors was called Kasane no Irome. The term "juunihitoe" is a modern convention referring to the most formal version of this style that actually had twelve layers. The formal name for the style is itsutsu-karaginu-mo referring to the three components of the outfit.


A full jūnihitoe outfit was extremely heavy and cumbersome, consisting of ten or more separate layers,[1] including:

  • a white silk undergarment
  • an ankle or lower calf length red or white silk robe known as a kosode
  • a long red or maroon pleated split skirt called a nagabakama
  • a hitoe unlined silk robe
  • a series of layered coloured unlined robes called uchigi
  • a scarlet silk robe called an uchiginu
  • an shorter brocaded silk robe called an uwagi
  • on formal occasions the uwagi was worn under a kouchigi (literally, "small cloak"), a shorter brocade robe
  • a waist-length Chinese-style jacket called a karaginu
  • an apron-like train worn at the back and called a "mo"


  1. Sara M. Harvey, The Juni-hito of Heian Japan