Japan: Woman in kimono (Kimekomi ningyou doll)

Front view
Front view

General description            Woman dressed in two kimonos: a coat-like kimono (uchikake) on top of an informal komon kimono

Dimensions                          19.5 cm x 14 cm x 10 cm

Date when acquired            2000s

Original Date                      Unknown

Source                                 Flea market in Göttingen, Germany



The typical pillar-like body of a kimekomi ningyou doll sounds hollow when tapped, indicating that it is most probably made of a composite material not solid wood. The base is covered with blue silk. The head is of plastic with painted features. Her long, very straight hair seems to be horse hair rather than silk threads. The clothes are as rigid as the rest of her body and the brocades are glued into place on the base creating a flowing form to the sleeves.


Back view
Back view


The doll’s basic komon kimono is of a pale pink brocade with a woven silvery pattern of flowers and leaves. On top of this, like a coat, she is wearing another brocade kimono (uchikake) in orange with a design of alternating silver and pale orange “wheels”. The traditional sash, the obi, cannot be seen as it is not worn over an uchikake. The sleeves of both kimonos are very long but reach just below her waist. Her left foot can be seen with its split-toed sock (tabi).



This doll has no accessories.


View showing split-toed sock and silver weave on the komon kimono
View showing split-toed sock and silver weave on the komon kimono

Background information

The Japanese kimono arose from the Japanese adopting Chinese fashions as far back as the 8th century CE. Since then, kimonos have been used in Japan, even nowadays, for day-today use and festive occasions. Kimonos are T-shaped, straight-lined robes with the hem falling to the ankle. They have attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimonos are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right. The right side is placed over the left only when preparing the dead for cremation. The kimono is normally secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. The exception to this is with the coat-like uchikake. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional sandal-like footwear (zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).


Kimonos have many different styles and are worn by both men and women. The kimono and obi are traditionally made of silk, silk brocade, silk crepes and satin weaves. Modern kimonos are also available in synthetic fibres and cottons, though silk is still considered to be the ideal fabric. Informal kimonos have repeated woven or dyed patterns, like the ones on the materials for these two kimonos on this doll. In contrast, formal kimonos are highly decorated and have free-style designs dyed over the whole surface or along the hem.

Komon means “fine pattern” and is the name for kimonos with a small, repeated pattern over the whole garment. It is a casual style and can be worn by both men and women. In contrast, the uchikake is a highly formal kimono worn only by a bride or at a stage performance. It is often heavily brocaded and is supposed to be worn outside the actual kimono and obi, as a sort of coat. However, it is supposed to trail along the floor and so has a padded hem. The uchikake on this doll is shorter than the komon kimono.

See Japanese kimekomi ningyou dolls

Source(s) of information



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