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May 11, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on May 24, 2012

Kimonos

The kimono is the traditional costume of Japan. Yet even the most sumptuous kimono is constructed quite simply: just a few strips of fabric sewn together. With their wide variety of seasonal designs, kimonos reflect Japan's rich natural beauty. And the obi - the sash - makes a kimono even more gorgeous. Typically more than three meters long, the obi is tied in a beautiful and often elaborate knot. The origin of the kimono as we know it today is an undergarment worn by ancient Japanese nobles. Later, during the days of the samurai, authorities tried to ban extravagant kimonos; they unwittingly inspired a kimono fashion revolution. In the early 20th century, mass-produced kimonos with bold new designs appeared. They look fresh even today and are now enjoying popularity with a new generation of young women.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, we look at kimonos, which fully embody the Japanese sense of beauty.