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Mofuku

Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Kimono mofuku 01.jpg
Romaji Mofuku
Kanji 喪服
Kana もふく
Audio Coming Soon


Mofuku (喪服, mofuku) can refer to any women's kimono or kimono item that is black in its entirety. There are exceptions to this rule. These items are worn for mourning of various degrees. The wearing of mofuku items is controversial outside their intended use (see below).

Characteristics

  • Mofuku items are always completely black (or black-on-black design).
  • Mofuku kimono are totally black usually with no pattern and have five white dyed kamon.
    • Mofuku kimono with rinzu and woven designs do exist.
    • The status of black iromuji with fewer than five crests is dubious.
    • Today's standard awase mofuku kimono are lined in white, but older kimono may be lined in red, beni-dyed silk.
  • Mofuku obi may be patterned, but the pattern and background are black.
  • Mofuku-suitable haori are black with no pattern and bear a one, three, or five family crests. These haori are not mofuku themselves and are therefore usable for other formal occasions.
  • All-black michiyuki are not mofuku, but are suitable for mofuku.
  • Mofuku obiage may also be patterned.
    • Black shibori obiage are not mofuku.
    • All-white obiage are an acceptable option, even with full mofuku.
  • Mofuku obijime are flat and have no threads of any colour other than black.
    • All-white obijime are an acceptable option, even with full mofuku.
  • Mofuku zōri may be patterned. All-black geta are not mofuku.
  • All-black purses and clutches made for kimono are mofuku.
  • All-black koshihimo, korin belts, obiita, datejime, obimakura, and obidomekanagu are mofuku.
  • All-black tabi are not mofuku.
  • All-black han-eri and date-eri are not mofuku.

The complete mofuku ensemble consists of mofuku kimono, obi, obi-age, obi-jime, and zōri. The han-eri, nagajuban, and tabi must be white, even if the complete ensemble is not being worn. If a haori is desired, it must be kuromontsuki.

Mofuku Kimono Examples

Formality & TPO

Mofuku items are formal kimono only suitable for wear at funerals and memorial days of deceased family members. Kitsuke should be very conservative, high collar, little han-eri showing, and a simple up-do. Follow other age-related guidelines normally. Both ends of the obi-jime should be tucked downwards.

Controversy

Mofuku items are reserved in Japan for use at funerals only. Mofuku kimono should not be worn for anything else. Outside of Japan and around people who are not familiar with kimono, obi may be gotten away with. Obi-age and obi-jime, as well as kimono purses may more often be paired with normal outfits, especially youthful ensembles where the mofuku is used for high contrast, or other outfits where it is obvious that the use of mofuku was purposeful. Mofuku kimono accessories such as koshi-himo may be used freely, but if seen may give the wrong impression. However, it is up to the wearer to decide when wearing mofuku is appropriate. It is very important to consider who will be attending the occasion and what the occasion is about. Be warned that many people find ANY use of mofuku except its intended use extremely disrespectful due to the stigma attached to such items.

History of Mofuku

Mourning wear in Japan (as with many Eastern cultures) began as white. After Japan began Westernizing, it took on black as the standard mourning colour. Today, white is worn by the deceased and is called shinishouzoku. However, black mofuku is not the standard for Japan. Some areas of Japan still wear white mofuku. Due to its customs, Buddhists in Japan may still prefer white mofuku also.

The Stages of Mourning and the Use of Mofuku

In the old days, family members who were suited to wear the full mofuku ensemble or the obi and accessories would day after day remove the mofuku from their outfits until all black pieces were gone. The kimono would be swapped for an iromuji first, then the obi, then the obi-age, and lastly, the obi-jime. On remembrance and memorial days, family members may choose to don partial mofuku again.

A full mofuku ensemble is reserved for family members who were close to the deceased. As the relation gets further away, the less mofuku is worn. Family members such as the wife, daughters, or sisters may wear the kimono, obi, and accessories. Other family members may wear a subdued crested iromuji (or a very mute hōmongi) with the obi and accessories. Friends and distant relatives may wear the obi-age and obi-jime with subdued iromuji and nagoya obi. Wearing more mofuku than would normally be expected may give the wrong idea. If a woman who was not the wife of the deceased would show up in full mourning attire, it would probably indicate that that woman had had a longstanding affair with him.

Mofuku for Men

At funerals, men close to the deceased are expected to wear a man's most formal outfit, which is not reserved only for mourning but is worn on various very ceremonial occasions. The kimono must be black and five crested, same goes for the haori, tabi are black or white, setta zōri are worn with black or white hanao, the nagajuban collar is black or grey, the haori-himo may be black or white, the hakama may be black and white striped or solid black, and finally, the obi may be unicolour white or black.

Men not as close to the deceased may wear an iromuji kimono of any colour with one or three crests with matching haori (haori-himo can be any colour), a unicolour kaku obi, black or white tabi, black or white hanao on setta zōri, and may choose to forgo the hakama.

Altering Mofuku

Mofuku items may be altered to become non-mofuku items. This includes, but is not limited to: dying over the crests, applique, painting, beading, and embroidery.

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Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Evan Mason (hikari_evyon (IG Username))