Travelling Welshman
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Discussions,  Japan

Why Foreigners Should NOT Wear Kimonos!

Amongst each national monument, Buddhist temple and historic avenue in modern-day Japan, men and women from across the world come to play out their little fantasies of living as 16th-century nobility by dressing up in authentic rented kimonos.

Many say that it’s a beautiful sight to behold and blends so perfectly amongst the narrow brick lanes and high-rising pagodas. Of course, those who wear kimonos think they look utterly fantastic and truly lose themselves in their mythical fantasies.

Yet the cold hard reality is that these tourists look absolutely ridiculous, and some even find the practice to be offensive! So before you mark down this tired cliché onto your itinerary, take a second to think why you should avoid wearing a kimono during your time in Japan!

What is a Kimono?

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that’s seen as an iconic national symbol. The word literally translates to mean “something to wear”, as for centuries kimonos were used as typical daily clothing. Though it used to be the clothing choice of commoners, it was soon adopted by society’s elite!

The T-shaped garment has square sleeves and is always worn left side wrapped over right, unless the wearer is dead, so best avoid that mistake! They’re also traditionally come with a broad sash, called an obi, and usually worn with zōri sandals and tabi socks.

wear kimonos
Visiting the sites in the kimonos

Different types of kimonos are used for men, women and children, though ladies’ kimonos are easily the most popular! This is mostly because they have more elaborate designs and eye-catching colours, as well as being made from finer materials such as silk.

There are also different kimonos for different occasions, seasons, age and, in years past, their marital status. The most common type of kimono is the yukata, which is usually more lightweight and a little more comfortable for daily use.

When are Kimonos Worn?

For centuries, kimonos were used daily for any and every occasion. They were worn by the poorest peasants to the noblest of samurai warriors! Colours and designs displayed economic or political classes, and battling warriors even dressed up in matching colours.

Today kimonos are generally only worn for special or formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals, festivals and graduations. They’re similar to how we would wear a suit in the West.

And just like a suit, some people are required to wear a kimono as part of their job! The most famous of which is another of Japan’s biggest icons, the glorious geishas and maiko (apprentice geishas). Sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, are must also wear a kimono at all times in public, apart from when they’re bumping bellies of course!

Why Are Kimonos Less Popular Today?

For thousands of years, Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world and maintained a more old-fashioned way of life. As the country entered the Meiji Era (1868-1912), they left behind their Shogunate rulers and samurai warriors as the country began a phase of Westernisation.

Kimonos of all sizes. Photo by Benh LIEU SONG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the casualties of this transition has been the beautiful kimono. Not only were they (and still are) incredibly expensive, but they were much more of a hassle to put on than your average T-shirt! Western-style clothing, therefore, seemed like the more convenient option.

By the end of World War II (and thanks to the added influence of American troops stationed in Japan), kimonos have all but disappeared from everyday life. Yet they’re still a symbol of national pride and seen as more of a tradition than daily fashion.

International Interest

Many people, such as myself, are absolutely fascinated by all aspects of Japanese culture! Kimonos are just one of the country’s many marvellous traditions that have managed to capture the imagination of people across the globe. You might think the Western love of kimonos is relatively new, but actually, it has been the case for centuries!

17th Century Europe and Kimonos

For hundreds of years, Japan isolated itself and shut its borders to the outside world. During that time, only one notorious trader had access to the mythical Far Eastern land, the Dutch East India Company. These traders had exclusive access to Japan’s shores from the 17th to 19th century, meaning they had unique access to some highly lucrative items. One of which was the humble kimono, which instantly caught the attention of Europe’s elite with its spectacular designs.

wear kimonos old
Vintage kimonos of a forgotten age

Kimonos quickly became a status symbol and proof of contact with faraway exotic lands. During the Meiji Era, Japan opened its borders began forming new channels of foreign trade and share cultural, political and economic ties. One of the most highly demanded products was the kimono, which was quickly funnelled to Europe and the Americas, bringing the garment onto the international stage.

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Modern-Day Revival

Foreigners are just as fascinated with kimonos today as they were centuries ago! The number of kimono collectors and enthusiasts has increased around the world, and museums are filling up with surviving relics. Kimono-dressing schools have also seen an increase in foreign enrollees who hope to become certified kimono stylists.

girl wear kimonos
Finally able to wear kimonos

Even the Japanese government themselves keep trying to revive their dying tradition and actively encourage their citizens to wear them! Thankfully there has been some resurgence in places like Tokyo, where youth in the trendy Harajuku district are bringing kimonos back in style!

The biggest exposure to kimonos around the world has been through other aspects of Japanese culture! Die-hard fans of anime and manga and lovers of Japanese media have become enamoured by the elegant garments. As such, the popularity of kimonos has been maintained by a very important group of people, tourists!

Tourists That Wear Kimonos

Many visitors to Japan just can’t help themselves! Everyone wants to live out their fantasy of walking through traditional Japanese streets wearing an authentic piece of local culture. It’s a common sight in many cities, such as Kyoto and Kanazawa, where the number of traditional streets and geishas are at their highest. You’re actually much more likely to see a tourist wearing one than a local!

On paper, the idea sounds so incredibly romantic and frankly quite cool! However, in reality, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and here’s why…

You Look Stupid

Let me ask you a question, would you walk through the streets of Texas wearing cowboy boots and matching hats? Or would you perhaps walk through the streets of Mexico wearing a poncho and a sombrero? Both do have some genuine cultural and historical significance to the area, but do you wear them? No, why? Because you’d look like a fucking fool. So why exactly is wearing a kimono any different?

Doing the tourist thing. Photo by JoshBerglund19 on Flickr

Yes, kimonos are a part of local Japanese culture, but it’s not your culture, therefore you look odd when you wear them. So is it only acceptable to wear them because kimonos are very beautiful? So what? If that’s the case, why don’t visitors wear a gown and a tiara while visiting Buckingham Palace?

And that is exactly what wearing a kimono looks like, a little girl dressed as a princess while visiting Disneyland. It’s cute, it’s utterly adorable, and it’s the absolute perfect setting for it. However, it’s not so cute when a 47-year-old woman does the same.

You Might Offend Someone

I’m not some fragile snowflake that thinks little girls “culturally appropriate” Maori culture while dressed as Moana or that Super Mario is a negative Italian stereotype. In fact, I find it all a little pathetic and overly sensitive. That being said, some people could claim that foreigners are being somewhat offensive when they wear kimonos.

There’s just something about a tourist sauntering amongst national treasures and religious sites dressed in another culture’s traditional dress that just seems a little strange. The act of wearing a kimono isn’t a crime in itself, you can still be perfectly respectable while wearing one, even if you do look strange. It’s those people who wear them JUST for those few extra likes on Instagram. Those girls that demand their boyfriend to take their 57,000th picture of the day whilst they stand beneath cherry blossoms or before the hall of a Buddhist temple. I can’t fucking stand it.

girl wear kimonos
As long as you look good right?

I feel if I was Japanese, I would be enraged if I saw an obese, triple-chinned, red-headed whale stamping her way through the streets of my nation with a ground-shaking vigour that would put Godzilla to shame, speaking at a decibel level beyond the realm of human hearing whilst she desecrates a piece of my culture, just for the sake of (and failing) to look cute for the selfie.

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Okay, It’s Not All Bad

I’m not made of steel, and neither am I a triggered Karen looking for a new thing to be annoyed about. Even I will admit that people dressed in kimonos do look fantastic, and that’s not just each individual! Having traditionally preserved streets lined with glowing red lanterns and filled with people wrapped in authentic kimonos looks sensational! You can really lose yourself in your imagination of what Japan must have been like centuries ago.

kimonos wear kyoto
Walking through the streets of Kyoto

I also understand why you would want to wear a kimono. You are IN Japan, the land of the kimono, there would be no more appropriate place to wear one than here! This is your chance to live out your fantasy and role-play life as Japanese royalty! I understand all that, but it doesn’t change the fact that you-look-STUPID!

Wearing a Scarface-esque white suit and red velvet shirt while driving the streets of Miami would look absolutely amazing…yet you’d still look like a complete fool. It’s like those stories of people legally changing their name to Dragon or Max Power. On paper or for a 12-year-old, it sounds really cool, but in the real world, it’s fucking ridiculous. And it’s the same with kimonos, some things are better left to your imagination.

What Do Locals Think?

Generally speaking, most Japanese people have no issue with it! Some might think it looks amusing (often they do), though they rarely find it to be offensive. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!

Identity politics isn’t a big issue in Japan, especially compared to the West. Japanese people generally feel happy when tourists take a keen interest in their cultural heritage and actively want to share it with the outside world. The older generation also wants Japanese youth to wear more kimonos! Thus, in a strange way, foreigners are one of the biggest driving factors of keeping the tradition alive and give kimonos a place in today’s modern world.

When is it Offensive to Locals?

Much like other debates on cultural appropriation, it’s all about the context and varies between each person. A foreigner wearing a kimono in Japan will barely get a second glance. On the other hand, a foreigner wearing a kimono in a place where Japanese people are marginalised or using their culture in a distasteful way is another story. Such as when Katy Perry wore a kimono and a powdered-white face during the American Music Awards. That’s more likely to raise some eyebrows.

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It’s Big Business!

people wear kimonos
Plenty of kimono designs

What’s always been more important than culture, history or a common sense of decency? Money of course! And kimonos are a big money-maker! Despite it being a shell of what it once was, it’s still almost a £2 billion industry, and a big proportion of that can be put down to foreigners!

The streets of Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa have multiple stores which rent out kimonos to wear for the day. Basic kimonos cost around 4000 yen and can get as high as 13,000 yen for more intricate styles! Essentially the same kind of price you would expect to rent a suit.

As such, renting out kimonos is a huge source of income for local economies, which locals are happy to accept! As one of my Japanese friends said “If they’re stupid enough to spend all that money, then we’re happy to take it.”

In Conclusion

Everyone has their own definition of cultural appropriation. If some people had their way, we wouldn’t be able to eat cuisine from any other country or listen to their music and enjoy their movies for fear of “stealing their culture.” I’ve never been of that opinion, it just seems like political correctness going a little too far.

In the case of the kimono, I can see why people would see it as such. It’s a true piece of Japanese heritage that dosey little girls put on giddily just to get those extra few likes on Instagram. To me though, the argument against wearing one is pretty simple, you look like a complete and total fucking idiot.

Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!

Thank you so much for reading Why Foreigners Should NOT Wear Kimonos! Check out these other helpful articles!


  • Ben Zabulis

    I tend to agree with you there, the grace and attire of the Japanese is unique and doesn’t quite fit with our western ways and physique. The only times I have participated in this sort of thing is wearing a yukata provided at an onsen which didn’t seem to bad in the cirumstances !

    • TravellingWelshman

      Absolutely, I find it quite strange! I completely agree with you, in that circumstance then of course you should wear a yukata, it makes complete sense. However, walking around Kyoto with a kimono and a selfie stick is just a little odd in my estimation! Thank you so much as always for taking the time to read through my article, I appreciate it!

      • Erin

        Hey there! Thanks for the article, I appreciated your interest in preserving the dignity of traditional dress. If it’s alright I would like to throw in my 2 cents and disagree with you on the reasonings behind the “looking fucking stupid” arguement. Of course everyone’s experience is different, but personally I have discussed this topic with many of my friends and coworkers (I live in Japan and work at a Japanese company) and all of them so far have shared the same enthusiasm for seeing foreigners in kimono. To people living in Japan who are potentially disconnected from the new age ideas of appropriation the west has decided to apply to many other nations with different standards and ideals, no one considers it silly here (rather, not many people do). In fact, on the whole it’s encouraged for foreigners to wear kimono! In this time period not many Japanese people associate any sacred or exclusive qualities to wearing the garment, and in certain situations such as ceremonies it is actually much more appropriate for a foreigner to wear kimono. Maybe as Westerners we tend to apply our own perspectives and values in order to discern what looks “silly” or childlike, but in reality wearing kimono is just another wonderful way to show Japanese people that you are enjoying the culture that you are there to experience!
        Nevertheless, I see that you have a love for world cultures and I hope you return to Japan one day and have more lovely experiences!
        Stay well!

        • TravellingWelshman

          Thank you so very much for your comments and I highly appreciate your courtesy too, many haven’t had such a polite reaction to the article! Oh absolutely, I do not believe (for the most part at least) that Japanese people have any real issue with foreigners wearing a kimono, rather many, as you say, would encourage it not only to proudly represent and maintain this fascinating tradition but also as a financial benefit.

          I couldn’t agree with you more about the Western tendencies to believe that anything taken out of any other culture should be considered cultural appropriation. Thankfully, whilst living in Asia I haven’t had to hear that tiresome debate. My real issue however is with the people who don’t appreciate the culture. It’s the individuals who want to wear something culturally significant simply because they find it eye-catching or might get them a bit more attention on their social media, which let’s face it, is the reason why many foreigners wear them in the first place.

          In the right context and with the utmost respect, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a foreigner wearing a kimono, as I myself would love to try one sometime! However for those people who wear this beautiful cultural garment “just for the likes” I find it foolish.

          Despite that, I completely respect your opinion and I can absolutely appreciate where you are coming from. As I say, this is just my personal opinion and people have the right to wear whatever it is they want, who am I to judge? Who knows, I might find myself wearing one someday too! Thank you once again for your wonderful comments and thank you so much for taking the time to read my article regardless!

      • Maggie

        It seems like you have more of a personal problem with women having fun, than anything else. You spend a lot of your article trying to shame girls who want to wear a kimono on their trip to Japan; berating them because you think they look silly, calling them vain, and often cursing them out. Yet when you dig into your article, there’s an entire section about how wearing a kimono is enjoyed by Japanese people who want to share their culture, is good for their economy, and Japanese people like that foreigners are helping rekindle part of their culture that has been lost.

        If you’re here trying to find out whether or not wearing a kimono would be disrespectful, then take this article with a grain of salt and move onto another one that will hopefully engage with the topic in good faith. The author was being spiteful, bitter, and insulting. Whatever you choose to do, you’re going to look beautiful and I hope you have an amazing time. 🌸🍡👘

        • TravellingWelshman

          You are very accurate with your assessment as this is indeed an opinion piece on foreigners who wear kimonos. This is something that I truly and passionately believe and I would never claim it to be a factual representation of kimono-wearing culture. Matters such as this could only ever be opinion-based and naturally they will differ between each individual.

          It seems there has also been a misunderstanding of the general message of the article itself. As you were keen to point out, I dedicated an entire section explaining at length how Japanese people generally celebrate the sharing of their cultural icon and that it is by no means an offensive act for a foreigner to wear one.

          What I clearly and adamantly stated is that I believe foreigners that wear kimonos specifically to visit tourist attractions and seek-attention on their social media profiles look absolutely ridiculous. Of course this is not an unanimous opinion, hence why this article is nothing more than an opinion piece. Yet it is a opinion held by a significant proportion of individuals, both Japanese and otherwise, and thus is equally deserving of being shared.

          Much like others who have been angered by this article, it seems that you have misinterpreted its fundamental message. There is absolutely nothing disrespectful about wearing a kimono. You are free to wear whatever you please, and I have an equal right to mock you for it. Beauty is subjective after all.

          Despite your judgemental tone I do sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read my article and I take great pleasure in being able to discuss these topics with my audience. Be sure to check out some of my other thought-provoking articles whilst you’re here. See you next time! 🙂

          • Christian Bolding

            Your fragility by minimizing her opinion for it’s “judgemental” tone implies that she did not understand your opinion in the first place, which is incredibly condescending. What you should take from this is that it isn’t about your opinion- it’s where it comes from. That is less about your personal opinion than it is about the privilege you feel you have versus where it’s coming from. Your lack of acquiescence adds nothing to the discussion and your intolerance of “tone” are weaknesses, not strengths. Ultimately, you are correct, you have the right to your own opinion. And we have the right to demand accountability. I’m sure you feel playing ping pong around why you should be held to account feels like debate, that digging in your heels over what is or isn’t considered polite is somehow vindicating, but you would only be fooling yourself. True colors matter. Reality matters. Debate in this case is an amusement for you, real life consequence for your assertions. This isn’t about kimono. This is about who you are as an individual, which is NOT up for debate, actually.

  • Angelina

    As a Japanese American with my mother being the only one in her lineage to leave her homeland, we encourage and LOVE when foreigners wear our clothing. More often than not, it’s non-Japanese who find it offensive. As with anything in life, intentions matter and anyone can be offended for any reason. Embracing my culture is not only educational, it’s important as it creates a connection between us. Wear the Kimono.
    There are only two types of people in this world…good people and assholes. Regardless of race, religion, politics, there is always going to be that person who is a jerk but that should never be a reason to deny others if the joys and beauty of my people. Wear the Kimono!❤️

    • TravellingWelshman

      I’m happy to hear that Japanese people are more than happy for foreigners to wear kimonos, and I couldn’t agree with you more that adopting someone else’s culture is by no means offensive, rather it should be encouraged!

      My real issue was actually perfectly defined by what you said; “intentions matter”. There are plenty of people who do not have the right intentions when it comes to embracing other cultures and treat it as a novelty and an opportunity for social media attention rather than respecting its history and cultural significance.

      That being said, I couldn’t agree more that your culture should undoubtedly be proudly represented and deserves to be shared with the world!

      Though you might not agree with the points I have made in this article, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read it and I respect your thoughts nonetheless 😁✌🏻

  • Christian Bolding

    Hello fellow traveller! I wish you the best on your journeys far and wide. Here’s another perspective from a Native American about cultural appropriation vs appreciation that might flesh out the topic in an interesting way.
    My culture is an old one in North America. I’m Lakota from South Dakota, my mother white American and until the age of six was 100% Lakota in language and culture. My mother was very supportive of this, especially the Lakota language as it has been historically supressed and faced extinction brought on by conquest and genocide. My parents divorced and at that age I went to live with my mother where she grew up in Florida. Going from the Native world to America beyond was shocking and confusing. Public schools and American cultural values made little sense to me and I struggled with assimilating into “American” models. Fortunately, and as far as I know uniquely, some Japanese friends of my mother took me under their wing and shared their own culture that also struggled to find footing. The ladies were very kind to me and I formed a solid bond with them, the Japanese language, kimono being part of the equation. I wore my first yukata at seven and went on later in life to study Japanese on my own in college and visit my adoptive country. In Japan, it was a homecoming for me, not exotic or sensational, simply the manifestation of so many stories my Japanese aunties told me. Although I did not wear kimono for most of my time there, I did wear yukata at festivals and more formal kimono during important events. Looking back, it is clear to me that I made a choice- assimilate into American culture and the trauma that entailed or assimilate into Japanese culture, which welcomed me at every turn. Now that I’m older and have spent a lifetime on the hoof travelling, I am back in my own ancient homelands with a Japanese childhood and a Lakota heart. One thing I am pretty staunch about though is gatekeeping cultures that are not your own. Millions of people around the world are enthusiastic about my own culture as a “real live indian”. The sense of exhibition, misrepresentations and exploitation has serious consequences for my nation, most glaring the use of feather head dresses and corporations stealing our sacred designs to sell clothing at chain stores with no permission, let alone compensation. Non Lakota people often cry louder than ourselves about this, drowning out our own opinion on the subject. Our voices and culture belong to us, and we truly do love to see people wear our beadwork and speak our language. I know it’s the same for Japanese people and their kimono. I am at an age where, like many Japanese grandparents before me, choose to wear kimono in nostalgia and a comfort zone. These are life learned emotions and are universal as a human being. So, today, still Lakota, wear my old man kimono for myself and also for my aunties, but also wear my hair braided traditional Lakota way too. The best ally you can be for Japanese people, about their own culture and emotions, is to listen to what they have to say. It’s a sign of wisdom, not weakness. Good luck to you.

    • TravellingWelshman

      Hi Christian! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and I sincerely appreciate your well-thought-out and articulate comments. I am fascinated to learn about your childhood and the strong influence that Japanese culture has had on you during your developmental years! I also find it wonderfully fascinating the amalgamation of cultures that you were exposed to at a young age, and I’m truly happy that you found a culture which welcomed you with open arms and has had such a positive influence on your life.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that cultural appropriation is an issue caused mostly by people “looking over the fence” so to speak. Surely it should be the individuals to whom the culture belongs should have the final word.

      However, my issue with individuals outside of the Japanese culture wearing a kimono is the lack of respect they show for their cultural significance. I completely agree that cultures should be shared and celebrated on every occasion. Yet taking cultural elements for self-satisfaction and social media attention is a tad disrespectful in my eyes.

      As an individual who was exposed to Japanese culture at an early age and has a deep understanding and appreciation for the unique elements of Japanese tradition, wearing a kimono or yukata is completely understandable. For a visiting foreigner who sees it as nothing more than a luxury fancy dress costume, that I have no respect for.

      Despite our conflicting opinions, I’m wholeheartedly grateful that you would take the time and effort to share your perspective on the matter and I have the utmost respect for your opinion. Thank you so much once again my friend, and good luck on your future travels!

  • Christian

    I don’t think we have conflicting opinions per se. I think we agree for the most part about respect for culture, especially one that is not your own. If a person who is not Lakota were to integrate into our society (this has absolutely happened before), speaks Lakota and becomes part of the community and Nation, that person is as a relative of ours. However, that person has no right to gate-keep our own culture for us. If a person were to be that assimilated, they would know that we have the right to do that for ourselves. This is why I said it’s important to be an ally as opposed to a gatekeeper. In the case of kimono, the Japanese people have their own opinions. It’s good policy to put those feelings before your own.
    Travel safe and keep up the dialogue you have with the world at large. It’s rare, yet sorely needed if human beings are expected to set any standards from here on out.

    • TravellingWelshman

      Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more! Communities and societies should be openhearted and open-minded to others wishing to be a part of their culture, and we should live in a world where those cultural elements are celebrated. I completely agree with you too that it’s the owners of that culture that have the right to say what is and isn’t seen as respectful. I would never claim to speak for Japanese people at large, I have no right to speak for them. This article was generally more about my own personal opinion on those who wear it rather than their right to do so or to claim what Japanese people believe. Though again I am very glad to have this open and friendly dialogue with you regarding this matter and I agree that such conversations are an important part of a loving human society. All the best to you!

  • hannah

    Came across your article after researching due to a multitude of TikTok’s I have seen of people renting a kimono for the day, & it made me laugh. But, I completely agree with you. Even after reading some of the comments it was interesting to me. I currently live in Japan. My whole family is from here. I genuinely believe it is because most Japanese are too humble to say to a foreigner it’s “stupid.” So I can totally see how some people are being told the opposite. As you said, it’s a huge $$ market!! But, even my whole family & myself thinks it’s silly.
    Nowadays, as you had written, it’s mainly for important events. Although, it is still tradition. It’s highly unlikely to see many wearing it, besides foreigners..
    Great article & good information ◡̈

    • TravellingWelshman

      Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article, I really appreciate it! 😁

      I’ve always found the practice to be so strange, though of course, it’s just my personal opinion rather than fact. There is nothing objectively “inappropriate” about wearing one, but that doesn’t make it immune to being ridiculous 😆

      Though of course I knew my opinions may be controversial, I felt someone should voice what many people must be thinking too!

      I’m fascinated to receive your comment and see it from a different perspective than I am used to hearing!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and sharing your own thoughts on the matter, it truly has made my day 😊 ✌🏻

    • Christian Bolding

      Hi Hannah. It seems to me that you are comfortable lumping an entire segment of humanity into what is or isn’t stupid, which is subjective. I guarantee you the vast majority of foreigners who visit or work in Japan do not wear kimono, which in my opinion, is a shame. What is also a shame is that you are under the impression that your culture is impossible to understand. While it’s true being polite is mostly the norm, it’s no smoke screen for people who invest the time and effort into learning your language, learning your history and living according to Japanese protocol in your society as workers, spouses, are children etc who are either completely “foreign” or some variation thereof. If you and your family are judgemental of concepts and human beings that may never have occured to you I suggest you build a time machine and take up your opinion of what is or isn’t “stupid” with emperor Meiji. The author mistakenly believes that it is his right to take up for a culture and nation that has nothing to do with him, which you’ve inexplicably validated. His coarsesness and lack of imagination beyond finding people “fucking stupid” speaks volumes for what the rest of us, and you, should really be embarrased for. Lack of respect and lack of self-awareness in his ignorant essay is far more problamatic than blond women wearing furisode. His point of view is indefensible, as is yours.
      All the best,

      • Christian Bolding

        You really need to stop thinking of your opinion as controversial. It takes no ownership or responsibility when you post something you already suspect will cause a reaction. That isn’t being a renegade or truth seeker. That’s called being a blowhard.

      • TravellingWelshman

        Good sir, you have no right to be the gatekeeper of another’s culture. Isn’t that what you told me? 😉

  • Kara

    I also came across your article when doing some research, as well. I found your perspective interesting and I agreed with some of it. The long and short of it is that I have not once heard a Japanese person talk about cultural appropriation when it comes to kimono. It seems it is mostly non-Japanese who shout the loudest when it comes to cultural appropriation, and it’s tiring.

    These days, the kimono industry is trying to do more to promote kimono as what it is–clothes. I think kimono became a “sacred and respected” form of dress because of how intimidating it can seem to wear it at first. The industry is trying to get kimono to become more mainstream by making it more accessible with more inexpensive production methods, new ways of styling, and reaching out to non-Japanese people to promote it as fashion.

    Yes, intention matters. I tend to be someone who prefers to see the basic “shape” of the kimono kept, but styled with modern patterns, but the ways I have seen kimono styled, it can sometimes be difficult to point to someone’s fashion and decide it was ill-intentioned or ignorant.

    I am actually a foreigner who happens to also be a licensed teacher and stylist. The teacher in me has looked at some styling and wanted to fix it. The stylist in me tries to look at the fashion aspect of what I see.

    • TravellingWelshman

      That certainly is a unique perspective from someone who quite clearly is very knowledgeable when it comes to fashion. I would agree with you that it actually is a great idea to bring such clothing styles to the mainstream, perhaps with some much needed tweaks for the modern world. But as you say, the intention matters. I suppose I’d look at it as if one person would wear a tailored suit to someone who grabbed a fancy dress costume out of a bag.

      Though, just like you, I would love to see it represented more and become a part of daily wear.

  • Katrina

    > Let me ask you a question, would you walk through the streets of Texas wearing cowboy boots and matching hats?

    I mean… people do. I did. I am from Texas. This is actually sometimes even formal attire if high enough quality depending on the city – like Dallas and parts of West Texas. It’s just a genre of dress that is popular amongst certain groups and certain regions of Texas. No one would bat an eye seeing a fully dressed cowboy in most Texas cities. I would say there are 3 forms: Working cowboy, casual cowboy, formal cowboy.

    I actually thought this comparison is apt, but I think you reach the wrong conclusion. Just because a style of dress is not ubiquitous in an area, does it mean that it is “weird” or bad when someone opts to wear it. It may look off or weird to you, someone outside of that culture to see others trying it on – but those within that culture won’t think anything of it. Tourists do in fact, come to Texas and dress as cowboys while doing so – especially during Rodeo season.

    It seems to me, the kimono and how the Japanese seem to feel about it are similar. I think their perspective should take precedence.

    And I do invite you, if you have any deep seated inkling to do so – to come down to Texas during Rodeo season if you want and indulge in your cowboy desires. No one local will judge you for it. Most Texas cities and towns have a Cavender’s Boot City for a reason.

    • TravellingWelshman

      I absolutely agree with you, I have no doubt that plenty of people, both tourists and locals, would wear endless amounts of cowboy gear while walking through Texas. However the point was that if its a local, its naturally part of their Southern culture, if they are tourists, then they are simply playing dress up.

      There isn’t anything necessarily inappropriate about it either, but it does not change the fact that as an outsider who is attempting to replicate a cultural style for nothing more than their own amusement is rather laughable, and everyone has the equal right to laugh about it.

      Wearing a cowboy hat in Texas may have been one of the lighter examples (as I’m sure there must be a vast number of cowboy gear available around those parts), but it would be considered much more peculiar seeing a foreigner wearing an oversized sombrero in Mexico or a kimono in Japan. The reason being that these aren’t typically used on a daily basis, not even by locals. These days they’re only seen in great numbers by people who want to use it for their own aesthetic beauty rather than trying to understand or appreciate its cultural beauty and significance.

      Of course I would never claim that you should never wear a piece of clothing, you have every right to wear what you wish. Yet as I have in this article, everyone else and I have the right to call them out on their stupidity.

      Yet overall, this is just my opinion of course, one which I knew would cause divide but it was one that I felt that others feel and is not voiced as much as.

      That being said, I will very much take you up on your offer and I would love to attend a real life Rodeo. Personally, I would prefer a black cowboy hat!

      Regardless of our contrasting points, I highly appreciate you taking out the time the both read and comment on my article, I truly do appreciate it.

      • Christian Bolding

        Not wearing a cowboy hat or cowboy boots in Texas only means you’ve taken exception in this case because you think you would look “fucking stupid”. ALL white Texans look fucking stupid on Native land. Texas, as well as all of the Americas have been pilfered and ravaged by your culture, burning 20,000 years of indigenous sovereignty to ashes. Your country created this American nation my family are currently occupied by, your coalminer ancestors settled it, yet you aren’t comfortable wearing the hat of a colonizer? Why not? Do you believe yourself unrelated in this respect or are you going to gatekeep who is or isn’t authentic according to your myopic view of the last 500 years? We natives require zero apology for your existance- mainly because we are compassionate in nature and we are not in your position. We are nothing like you. What we are, however, are survivors of genocide which originated in your country and your own people. In the face of that great evil, you mistake Texas appropriation as “culture”. This isn’t about being offended, about looking “fucking stupid” in cowboy boots- this is about you asserting privilege you haven’t earned as you focus on the trivial. Your opinion isn’t “controversial”- it’s just plain lazy. Extraordinarily ordinary. Not really worth the time you spent to write this essay. Doubling down on this does not absolve you and the questionable right you have to gatekeep another culture after 500 years of global devastation from your own. Perhapse you didn’t understand that this “essay” implies crucial and concerning questions about yourself. I personally avoid writing my own opinions unless I’m writing a fiction. I prefer to dwell in the salvation of facts.

        • TravellingWelshman

          Hi Christian, clearly your thoughts have been provoked on this matter and you seem very keen to share your opinion.

          It seems that an enormous bulk of your extensive comments is dedicated to my statement on visitors in Texas. It seems that you have taken this quote completely to heart and it seems to be quite a horrific personal trigger of yours. Though I wholeheartedly agree with your stance on the pillaging of your culture, it has absolutely zero relevance to the article itself. Feel free to write your own fiery worded article on that topic, I would be sure to read it…

          To save us both a lot of time here, let’s address your fatal misunderstanding of the message of this article. I couldn’t care less whether or not somebody partakes or is influenced by another’s culture. On the contrary, cultures from across the world should be celebrated and shared by all. Neither do I care to be a gatekeeper for such matters. I believe I have the right to do such a thing and in some ways I don’t believe any culture has the right to say what can and cannot be shared with the world.

          Thus, your hot-headed screed on the genocide of Native American people has absolutely nothing to do with my original point. If a random traveller, a local Texan or someone from your own culture chooses to wear a cowboy, it makes absolutely no difference to me, I wouldn’t find that to be offensive. The same goes for the kimono.

          My point is terribly simply but often seems too hard for people such as yourself to understand. You are completely free to wear whatever you want, more freedom to you…but I have an equal right to point just how stupid you look.

          Additionally, I believe that your argument is awfully hypocritical. While on the one hand you fly the flag of cultural understanding and appreciation, on the other you immediately judge me for my heritage without knowing a single detail about my family origin or history. I would imagine that you wouldn’t want others to have the same stereotypical judgement of your culture, and I would never dare to do such a thing. Frankly, I find that far more offensive than any foreign fool wearing an ill fitting kimono.

          As such, I believe your argument to immediately lose all value. How am I to support the beliefs of the “white knight of culture” while you immediately offend 4 separate countries and their individual culture immediately after. Frankly it seems that you are projecting your hatred of Western culture and history towards an individual that has nothing to do with it.

          You say that you would avoid writing your own opinions unless you’re writing a fiction. Sadly, I don’t believe your opinion would hold much weight regardless of the format. The same goes for my own opinion. Sadly, its overly aggressive individuals that yourself that continue to keep this article, and thus this opinion, relevant.

          You believe I wrote this article for the express purpose of being controversial however I would have to wholeheartedly disagree. Whether or not you find this article to be controversial is irrelevant, it is an opinion held by many people and one that I believe was worth sharing with others. If you disagree, which many people to you, you are absolutely welcome to. We thankfully live in a free society where we are allowed to share contrasting arguments without fear or repercussions. Though based on the incredibly offensive tone you have towards a number of cultures in this comment alone, it seems that isn’t the world you would like to live in.

          All in all, thank you for taking the time to read this article and to write a comment that surely only myself will have seen. I always love engaging my audience despite some selecting to have a very disrespectful approach. Be sure to check out the rest of the article. I look forward to writing some equally thought-provoking articles once I arrive in America, like my ancestors before me.

          • Christian Bolding

            Hi again- I had some time to think about you and your essay. Holding your privilege to account seems to be hard for you to stomach. Nonetheless, I base my assessment on re reading your essay and your responses in kind in the comments. I believe I was too easy on you, much easier than you’re going to find in this neck of the woods in person. I speak of genocide and accountability because your opinions are derivative and utterly colonial and the experience of gatekeeping seems to be an opportunity for you to pass your time without consequence. We, I pay for your leisure, your relatively comfortable life globetrotting, the largess of your country, the jewels in your dead queen’s crown with actual loss of life. You leave your footprint everywhere you go, your privilege a gift from your ancestors. Your ignorance of thatfact is no excuse, particularly if you find criticism to be ad hominem. I hear what you’ve said, thought about this in the weeks since I first wrote you with compassion. The smart, growup thing to do is to admit this, listen when you’re contradicted, and in this instance to realize your judgemental jaunts in foreign countries come at a price. The words I’ve used to take issue with your lack of personal awareness I only learned from reading what you personally have written. And Welshman- you’d better grow some thicker skin than this if you hope to survive this world. You are obviously young. I am not. Neither do I suffer fools.
            On that note,


          • TravellingWelshman

            Welcome back my dear friend Christian, somehow I knew you would return.

            It seems that you are adamant to make this an argument about race and the privilege which I receive as a result. While I in no way ever have or ever will deny that fact (I believe that is a debate for another time), this article is clearly nothing to do with that fact. It seems that you’re purposefully trying to turn this issue into one that focuses on race and equality, which is frankly ridiculous. If you must insist on doing that, must I go into how my Welsh ancestors were also abused by their neighbouring English rulers? I don’t believe I should, as its absolutely not relevant and has zero bearing on the discussions we are having.

            It seems quite a common tactic for individuals such as yourself to attack contrasting ideas, or simply opinions that you do not agree with, with accusations of race inequality, privilege and gatekeeping.

            Furthermore, the crux of your argument seems to be that due to my particular race, I am unable to hold an opinion on any matter not relating to my own race. Worse yet, if its an opinion which you happen to disagree with entirely, it must immediately fall under the umbrella of white privilege. Its that blatant contradiction and hypocrisy that makes your arguments completely null and void. How is anyone supposed to listen to your ideology while you immediately condemn an entire race at once? Frankly, your opinions are far more offensive than anything I said in this article.

            You claim my opinions to be “derivative and utterly colonial”, however if I was to hold the same opinion as you, suddenly the question of race and privilege would not be an issue. As you have seen for yourself in these comments, local Japanese people have also shared their opinion on the matter, which also happen to disagree with yours. Is their opinion “derivative and utterly colonial” too? Somehow I don’t think you’d say that would you?

            Frankly, your comments and your attitude is far more offensive and culturally inappropriate than anything I would ever hope to write. I quote, “You leave your footprint everywhere you go, your privilege a gift from your ancestors.” That is by far more offensive than anything that I have or ever will write on this website. Frankly its quite a disgusting attitude for you to instantly judge an individual based on their race and heritage. This is something that I would never do, and a behaviour I find to be disgusting. You have done nothing but assume who I am, where I come from and what I stand for. “And we all know what happens when we assume…”, right?

            My friend, you are a walking contradiction. Rather than agreeing to disagree with a contrasting opinion you must find anything in your power to discredit it, no matter how illogical or offensive it may be. You try to justify your anger towards my opinion by making the argument about race and genocide of a culture which has no relation to the article itself. Frankly your approach is so transparent I’m surprised I haven’t been compared to a certain German of the 40s yet.

            Though overall, don’t get my tone twisted, any negative comment has always been a thrill to me. Some comments are generally quite courteous and discuss their contrasting opinion in a civil and polite manner. I’m always happy to have open discussion about any of the topics raised in my article. However it is individuals such as yourself that give me true pleasure.

            I take great pleasure in knowing that some people are so easily triggered, that they honestly cannot comprehend or deal with the fact that individuals have a different opinion to them. Yet again, this was not written for the express purpose of being controversial, though I do understand its a controversial opinion. That’s the defining difference that individuals such as yourself cannot come to terms with. Thus when those same individuals feel privileged enough to share their own opinion in return, usually laced with anger, insults and personal offence, I take great pleasure in that. You see, I know my opinion holds no value, though you seem to think yours does.

            Additionally, individuals like you give people such as myself a voice and a platform. Rather than ignoring the title which I’m sure you would have immediately labeled as “Click bait”, you couldn’t help but take a look. You yearn to be offended, to project that anger towards someone behind the computer screen. Even after dropping a scathing review, you couldn’t held but bring yourself back for more. Despite travelling along the Eastern Seaboard, you couldn’t help responding once again at the end of your day. And each and every time you do, you bring my article before more people. You allow these “hurtful and dangerous” ideas to be proliferated further and to a greater audience, rather than simply ignoring it and allowing it to fall into obscurity. So on that note Christian, I thank you, as you have made this article more relevant than ever before.

            Oh by the way, if you’re headed back to New York, be sure to let me know… as Manhattan actually belongs to my Welsh ancestors, look it up. Toodles!

          • Christian Bolding

            One last thing- All I need to know about you I can see with my own eyes, any gaps I can fill in by assessing your writing. Whether or not you think I need to know you beyond that does nothing to acknowledge your privilege. Don’t play in matters if you don’t think you can’t be judged by your own footprint, your own existence on this planet. While you may think the world is your comfortable little oyster, you are going to find more often than not challenged on that assumption. And we all knows what happens when one assumes,

  • Shey B.

    Just wanted to point out that your comparison to Texas isn’t the best. Many people wear boots and cowboy hats in their everyday life and no one would be looked down on or second guessed if they were seen out in public wearing them. Hell, it would be difficult to even tell if you aren’t a local based on the dress because of how diverse the state is.

    • TravellingWelshman

      I would wholeheartedly agree with you that the Texas comparison was one of the much lighter ones. Somewhere like that you truly wouldn’t stand out much. However a foreigner wearing a kimono would stick out like a sore thumb.

      • Christian Bolding

        I’m pretty sure the rest of the world would like to take a break from the judgment a citizen of GB thinks of white people adopting native dress. The sore thumb is really yoursef.

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