Men's kimono in tea ceremony

The lecture entitled "Modern Teaism Series: Tea Life" by So-oku Sen, the next grand tea master of Mushakoji-Senke, one of the three main tea schools in Japan, was held at the Japan Society in NYC on February 10th evening. I went to take the lecture with students of my kimono-wearing class. Because I took a lesson of tea ceremony that morning, I realized that the spirit of Rikyu Sen, the founder of tea ceremony in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1603), was modern rather than immortal. And I felt magnificent about tradition and creativity of tea ceremony.
Modern Teaism Series So-oku Sen: Tea Life

One of my students asked me about the haori cloth So-oku Sen worn. It seemed cool and light for her, like ro, which means gauzy-woven silk kimono, usually used in summer. It is called Jittoku, but I forgot the word and shortly answered that it was a men's formal wear in tea ceremony, like a monk cloth. Usually I get a sense of cloths for tea ceremony like this, like that, but I notice to be unable to explain that.
After returning home, I checked men's kimonos in tea ceremony in order to explain it concretely. Men's kimono is simpler than ladies', and so more subject to error. There are many things we have to understand about men's kimonos in tea ceremony.

Jittoku is described as follows:
"Jittoku has experienced many changes of style from the Kamakura period (1192-1333). Interestingly, jittoku made an allusion to retirement in the Edo period (1603-1867), because a retired old man wore a jittoku at home. Recently only monks and professors of tea ceremony wear Jittoku. Jittoku is a wide-sleeved haori with a unique form, on which waist bands are stitched."
On the custom of tea ceremony, men who have to practice were unable to wear jittokus. I have looked that the grand tea master wore a jittoku, but it was actually a formal wear for a well-practiced tea master. So, men seldom wear jittokus in tea ceremony in Japan.

In general, iro-muji, piece-dyed plain kimono, with crests and hakama made by Sendai-hira, mostly pinstriped, are men's formal wears in tea ceremony. But yarn-dyed omeshi kimono is also suitable for most of the casual tea ceremony. Hierarchy of tea ceremony is classified as Shin-Gyo-So. According to this hierarchy, some suitable kimonos are recommended for the situation. Please refer the following web site, which unfortunately has only a Japanese page and shows more suitable kimonos only for ladies.
Kimono Club: kimonos in tea ceremony

As it is often said that tea ceremony is composite art, there are many rules about kimono. Some people may feel that these rules are troublesome, but once we enjoy these rules, we could feel surprised at spatial spiritual world of tea ceremony.
However I think we need not cling to traditional styles. So-oku Sen told us that tea world should not be too distant from real modern world. I also suppose that we should not care so much about traditional rules of tea ceremony, wearing kimonos and sitting on our legs, but we could enjoy tea ceremony itself.
Soon after I start practicing of tea ceremony in Tokyo, I sometimes visited tea ceremony, where most of attendants wore kimonos, with a European clothe, because I could not imagine kimono-wearing in tea ceremony. All the attendants generously greeted me and I was deeply impressed by their hospitality. Actually, I felt like touching essential spirit of tea ceremony without wearing kimonos.
After these episodes, I become more interested in tea ceremony. Because I prepared season words on each weekly lesson, I realized change of seasons more sensitively. Being conscious of seasons in my life, I have naturally been able to select kimonos, suitable for seasons and situations, and enjoy kimono-wearing. For example, looking tender green outside, I should go outside with a ro kimono, especially a lettuce green kimono.

There may be no rules, which are correct and which are wrong. I think that we enjoy everything about our life style, learning sense of distance between nature and human. Actually, tea ceremony seems to tell us how to associate with nature. Someday in the future, I would like to understand a part of world of Rikyu Sen, who pursued relationship between human and universe.

Following list shows references about men's kimono in Japanese. You can get them at
"Men's kimono by Ginza Motoji"
"Basics of men's kimono wearing"
"Note of general knowledge about men's kimono"


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