Women Only Rules in Japan 1 -Women Are Obliged to Wear Kimono at Work-

January 11, 2020 Juju Kurihara Business, Culture, Custom, news Tags: , , , , 4 Comments

On Monday, Tokyo Stock Exchange started the first session of the year and the women in beautiful in kimono are shown in online news. “Oh, how beautiful!” may be your first impression. But do you feel the same if those women are all employees of the company and they are obliged to wear kimono?



It’s not easy at all to wear kimono by yourself. My grandma can but not for our generation. You can of course go to classes and learn but otherwise, you need someone or two people to put you in a kimono. Of course another help for your hair. 


Not only wearing the kimono but also spend a day in kimono is complicated. I wore it for my Seijin no Hi (Coming of age day). It took me good four hours to prepare and after I went out, it was disaster. I couldn’t walk fast or go and down the stairs.  Thick Obi was wrapped around my torso so tight that it was uncomfortable to sit long time or even to eat. Oh, going to the toilet was terrible. It was very hard to bring up the kimono… What if the kimono got untied? I would have no way to fix it by myself. 


Kimono is a Japanese tradition and it looks so elegant and beautiful, but it’s far from practical and comfortable. Not many women wear it daily explains a lot, doesn’t it? 


But seeing these young women in kimono standing next to the board of directors in normal suits made me think, why only women had such dress codes? 


Last year there was a #KuToo movement in Japan and women are protesting against  wearing high-heels at work. The word KuToo came from kutsu, shoes in Japanese and kutuu, pain or suffering. A Japanese woman started the movement through SNS and it became a controversial. More than 27.000 have signed on the petition and it was submitted to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The response was, “The important thing is if it’s necessary as a part of the job or if it’s corresponded to the work by applying the social common sense.” Can women wearing kimono for New Year is a tradition be a good reason to oblige female employees to wear kimono? 


According to the Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum on the 17th December 2019, Japan ranked 121st out of 153 countries. It was 110th in the 2018 report, so Japan has dropped 11 places. This explains a little more about the working conditions for women in Japan. 


I see this women only rules in other cultures too. But I wouldn’t be happy if I had to go to work in kimono because it’s prettier. Will Japanese women get treated like another human being and not treated like a recreation for men one day? Or even, will Japanese women ever get called by their names at home instead of being called “mother”? 


Kimono at work is just one of the rules. I will tell you another one in the next article. 


  1. Rossend Bonàs 3 years Reply

    Oh no! We must not force anyone to anything, not even children. By God! obligations can traumatize you for a lifetime! It’s better to lose all traditions. Obligations are things of yesterday. Now we are all free!

  2. Beth M Parkhurst 3 years Reply

    My understanding is that even if both male and female employees were required to wear kimono, men would still have it easier because of a more comfortable obi.

    I may be wrong on this, though. I know even less about men’s kimono than I do about women’s.

    Thank you for this most interesting article!

    • Juju Kurihara 3 years

      I agree. It should be a little easier to move without obi, however, men also wear normal kimono under hakama. So it must be much more uncomfortable than the normal clothes. This could be the reason, men don’t force another men to wear kimono. One day there will be more women in the board member and they will oblige men employees to wear kimono because it looks cool?   

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