Trouser-skirt (hakama)


Formal trouser-skirt (hakama)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Below two kigo with this garment and the Shichi-Go-San Festival are also introduced.

The formal trouser-skirt (hakama はかま 袴) is still used in many ceremonies, martial arts and other formal activities today. I used to wear one during practise of Japanese archery (kyuudoo 弓道). These pleated long pants for formal wear are rather difficult to put on and even more so to fold correctly after wearing. I remember well many hours spend with my archery teacher just learning how to fold this garment properly. The seven folds are of course meaningful, there are five in the front and two in the back and you think about the following topics while folding your garment:

yuuki = courage, valor, bravery
jin = humanity, charity, benevolence
gi = justice, righteousness, integrity
rei = formal etiquette, courtesy, civility
..... (also formal bowing and obeisance)
makoto = sincerity, honesty, reality
chuugi = loyalty, fidelity, devotion
meiyoo = honor, credit, glory; reputation, dignity, prestige

This trouser-skirt is worn by men and women. Young boys get the first hakama at age 5 during a special ceremony, see below.

During the Edo period, a hakama would also protect the kimono when walking or working outside or travelling. These garments were lined with a special strong black cloth at the bottom of the legs. The normal material was strong cotton.

For theater performances, lavishly embroideree silk hakama were also commen.
During the Heian period, ladies wore bright red hakama over their kimono.

Gabi Greve

The costume of the mountain ascetics (shugenja) includes a hakama with very wide legs, bound at the bottom.
Shugendoo, The Mountain Ascets Way of Life
by Gabi Greve

This one is for formal horse-riding,
joba hakama, jooba hakama 乗馬袴.

Click HERE to see some more.

The "Top-Bottom", kamishimo 裃 garment was the formal wear of a samurai. It was usually emproidered with the family crest.

Click HERE to see some samples.


Hakama is an outer garment worn over the kimono that are either split between the legs like pants or non-split like a skirt. Hakama pants originated as an outer garment to protect samurai warriors legs from brush when riding a horse. Today, the hakama is worn as formal attire for ceremonies, traditional japanese dance, artists and martial arts.

The hakama pants with the split between the legs are the most well known. However, hakama used for traditional japanese dances and ceremonies normally do not have a split for it allows the full length kimono underneath to hang nicely giving a neater appearance. Both hakama styles (skirts and pants) look exactly the same from the front and back.

Traditional hakama pants for men are striped or solid in subdued colors. The striped black and gray hakama pants as shown on the right is the most popular traditional attire. The formal attire consists of a white under garment, black full length kimono, hakama pants and a black haori.

© Japanese Kimono.com


Wearing the hakama for the first time, hakamagi 袴着
kigo for early winter

This is a special ceremony performed formally on the 15th day of the 11th month, now in November during the festival of "Seven Five Three" Shichi-Go-San (see below).

Little boys of five are given their first hakama by a special friend of the family, his new "hakama parent" hakamaoya 袴親, who dresses the boy and brings him to the temple/shrine for the ceremony. Thus the two families would be closely bound together.
At the imperial court, this ceremony is called
"Chakko no Gi" 着袴の義, and also performed for girls.

Here is our princess Aiko with her royal parents.

© Photo Today24h一覧

hakamagi ya ko no zoori toru oyagokoro


Here is one from Kamakura, where I watched this ceremony many times.

First Hakama Ceremony!
a little samurai passes
the Big Drum Bridge

Gabi Greve

Big Drum Bridge, Taikobashi, is the famous bridge before entering the shrine compound at Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.

Haiga by my friend Nakamura Sakuo
Everyday Issa Haiga


Long formal trousers, nagabakama 長袴

You have to step on the long legs whilst walking, and you have to be careful of the people walking behind you!
This was worn on formal audiences and you had to walk almost on your knees, thus avoiding that a samurai could draw his sword unexpectedly to attack his lord.

In the famous story of the "47 Ronin" the trouble begins with a long hakama of the Lord being stepped on by the unfortunate young samurai.

Look at more here:
 © "Getting Dressed in Edo" Graphics Gallery

Refresh your memory here:
Sengaku-ji and the 47 Ronin (Chushingura) 泉岳寺と47浪人 / 忠臣蔵 
By Gabi Greve


Click HERE to see some more.


Noh-Performance in Hakama, hakama noo 袴能
kigo for late summer

Usually a mask and heavy costumes are worn for a Noh performance but on the hotttest days of summer, the actor wears only a hakama with a family crest. All the other tools of the stage are used as usual. In this lighter dress, the audience can see the movements of the actors a lot better than when using formal costumes. It makes them all feel cooler during the hot days.


Two People in One Hakama, futaribakama 二人袴

This is a famous Kyogen play about a father and son, who are forced to share one pair of fancy trousers.

Click HERE to see some more.

I have an ivory netsuke with two people sharing one hakama.

The bottom too is delicately carved.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .

hakama kite shiba ni gorori to ne no hi kana

first day of the rat -
he fell asleep on the lawn
in his formal trousers

waka-gusa ni betari to netaru hakama kana

on the young green
he is fast asleep -
in his formal trousers

Tr. Gabi Greve

The first day of the rat (hatsune) was a special day of the New Year with ceremonies where people used to wear a formal dress for the day of the rat, ne no hi goromo 子の日衣.

David Lanoue translates this hakama as "sword's sheath" .


Two more haiku by Issa

toshiyori no takamomodachi ya kesa no shimo

the old man's skirt
hiked up his thighs...
morning frost

Takamomodachi means that a formal skirt (hakama) has been raised on both sides, making physical activity possible, a vigorous posture; Issa zenshû 2.148, note 1; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 986.

naga tsuki no sora iro awase kitari keri

Ninth Month--
the sky wears a colorful
lined kimono

The editors of Issa zenshû leave the original text of this haiku mysterious. In Volume 1 the sky is wearing hakama, a man's formal divided skirt or woman's pleated skirt. But in Volume 2 the sky is wearing awase: a lined kimono (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 1.429; 2.370. I have decided to base my translation on Vol. 2.

Since Ninth Month is the end of autumn, even the sky seems to be changing into warmer clothes.

Shinji Ogawa explains that this haiku can be read in two ways: (1) the Ninth Month wears a sky-blue [kimono], or (2) the Ninth Month sky wears a colored [kimono]. He adds, "The word no indicates that the second is more likely."

Tr. David Lanoue


- - - - - Matsuo Basho - - - - -
Tr. Gabi Greve

Mafukuda ga hakama yosou ka tsukuzukushi

wears his one-legged hakama -
this horsetail

Mafukuda is a young priest, for whom Saint Gyoki made a purple hakama (pleated skirt), but only with one leg.
This one horsetail looks just like that to old Basho.

. Saint Gyoki Bosatsu

(There is also a purple flower called "fujibakama" (hakama like a wisteria, thoroughwort)


月はるる角力に袴 踏みぬぎて
→ 月よしと 相撲に袴踏みぬぎて
tsuki haruru sumoo ni hakama fuminugite

the moon becomes visible -
I take off my hakama
for a sumo mach

Maybe Basho compares the moon coming out of the clouds with a wrestler. During the times without electricity, the moon was a welcome source of light on dark nights.


sasa no tsuyu hakama ni kakeshi shigeri kana

dew of the arrow bamboo
hangs on to his hakama trousers
walking through the thicket of leaves . . .

- or more literally

the thicket
leaves on his hakama trousers
dew from the arrow bamboo . . .

Written in the summer of 1693 元禄6年夏.
At the home of Miyazaki Sensen 宮崎荊口 - 千川.
Sensen had been the representative of the Shogun to visit Nikko in that year.
On his hakama there was certainly some dew from the bamboo of Nikko. This ku shows Basho's appreciation of his haikai friend Sensen.

. Miyazaki Keikoo 宮崎荊口 Miyazaki Keiko .

sasa - shinodake 篠竹 is a special slender type of bamboo, also called Hokodake 鉾竹.
. WKD : shinodake 篠竹 .

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Sashinuki hakama
Sashinuki are a type of hakama that are meant to be worn blousing over the leg and exposing the foot. To accomplish this, they are somewhat longer than normal hakama, and a cord is run through the hem and drawn tight, creating a "ballooning" effect . To allow for the body required, more formal sashinuki were six-panel hakama rather than four panels. Technically, this cord around the ankle makes sashinuki a type of kukuri- (tied) hakama.
The earliest form of sashinuki were cut like normal hakama (albeit a bit longer) and have a cord running through the hem of each leg. These cords were pulled tight and tied off at the ankle. This was the form commonly worn during the Heian period. Sashinuki were worn by court nobles with various types of leisure or semi-formal wear.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

sashinuki o ashi de nugu yo ya oborozuki

Feeling like kicking off hakama,
This kind of night-
A hazy moon.

Tr. Nelson/Saito

His baggy trousers
pushed off with his foot tonight -
a hazed-over moon

Tr. Sawa/Shiffert

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo - (1779) .

Related words

***** Shichigosan (shichi go san)
Seven-Five-Three Festival
kigo for early winter

Celebrated on November 15, see above.

Celebrating Shichi-Go-San, shime iwai 七五三祝
Seven-Five-Three congratulations
..... shichigosan no iwai 七五三の祝 ,しちごさんのいわい

sweets presented for this celebration, chitose ame 千歳飴 ちとせあめ

Click HERE to see more photos of this event !

"Shichi Go San" means "Seven Five Three". Girls of age three and seven and boys of age three and five are celebrated on Shichigosan, and it is prayed for their good health and growth. Shichigosan takes place on November 15 and is not a national holiday. On November 15 or the closest weekend, the young people visit a Shinto Shrine dressed up in kimono.

Odd numbers are considered lucky numbers. Long candies in bags (chitose ame) that are decorated with turtles and cranes are given to the children. The candy, the crane, and the turtle, all symbolize longlivity.
 © japan-guide.com

To look at more sweets, click on the photo !

Ema votive tablet for Shichi-Go-San
. Shrine Iminomiya 忌宮神社 Yamaguchi .

. Nezu Jinja 根津神社 Nezu Shrine .
Ema for Shichigosan in Tokyo

In Hokkaido, Shichi-Go-San is celebrated in October, because the winter with snow and cold weather is much more severe than in other parts of Japan.

CLICK for more ema of Shichigosan !
. . . . .

. kamioki, kami oki 髪置 (かみおき) binding up the hair  
..... kushi oki 櫛置(くしおき) using a comb

red and white...
candy still sweet after
one thousand years

- Shared by Pat Geyer -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013


. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 




Gabi Greve said...

Thanks, Gabi.
If you search for "formal trouser" you'll see my changes.

 David Lanoue
Glad to be of help, David!

Gabi Greve said...

Ebisu-koo su-uri ni hakama kisenikeri

Ebisu Festival:
vinegar salesman decked out
in formal wear

Matsuo Basho

trans. David Barnhill

Ebisu and Haiku

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

sasa no tsuyu / hakama ni kakeshi / shigeri kana

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

ie wa mina tsue ni shiragami no hakamairi

all family members
with canes and white hair
visiting graves

Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉, 1656 明暦2
at the local shrine of his village at Iga Ueno

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

mina ogame / Futami no shime o / toshi no kure

Matsuo Basho

しめ shimenawa

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

hakamagi ya Hachimanguu no ujiko tachi

they come clad in Hakama trousers -
all the parishioners
from Hachimangu

. Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規 visiting shrines and temples .

Anonymous said...

Hakama is a general term for pleated skirt-like garments worn with kimono by both men and women.
There are two broad categories of hakama: divided (馬乗り umanori or "horse-riding" hakama), which are constructed like very wide trousers;
undivided (行灯袴 andon bakama, literally lantern hakama) which are constructed like a wide skirt; both have the same appearance when worn. Hakama are tied at the waist using four himo, and fall to the ankles.

Hakama were originally one part of an outfit called a kamishimo (上下 or 裃, literally upper and lower). Worn by men of high rank, the hakama was paired with a matching stiff, sleeveless jacket known as a kataginu (肩衣).

Hakama are worn by men with all types of kimono except yukata.

Gabi Greve - facebook said...

Discussion of facebook, with
Robin D Gill
with more information

Gabi Greve said...

Kamishimo (裃)

Kamishimo were a two piece formal ceremonial dress worn by Edo period samurai of rank at court and during ceremonies. A less formal version was worn as everyday dress by samurai in the Muromachi-Momoyama periods, developing into a more formal and uniform part of ceremonial dress in the Edo period.

The two piece Kamishimo featured a kataginu, a sleeveless jacket with pleated wing-like extended shoulder pieces, and a hakama, made in a matching pattern and color. This was worn over a knee length kosode kimono. The hakama could be either the baggy trouser-like Umanori type, or the skirt-like Andon type.

Kamishimo were the required dress for formal occasions, imperial court ceremonies and appearances within the Shogun’s castle. At those times, the kamishimo were often worn with naga-bakama, elongated hakama trailing some 60cm longer than necessary, impeding the ability to walk normally, thus preventing attacks and assassination. Being able to walk smoothly in naga-bakama was seen as a sign of good breeding.

Kamishimo usually featured the family crest on the upper front, and central rear of the kataginu, and on the koshiita plate at the back of the hakama too. The costumes were made of plain weave Japanese asa hemp or cotton cloth, and patterned with stencil print.

facebook -

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

saruame no Yushima no Miya no shichi go san

the Shichi-Go-San festival
at Yushima Shrine
with Monkey Sweets

Mizuhara Shūōshi 水原秋櫻子 Mizuhara Suoshi (1892-1981) .
MORE about Yushima

Gabi Greve said...

たづげ tazuge -
work hakama for use in the snow.

Gabi Greve said...

sooe, soo-e 僧依 / hoo-e 法依 robes of a priest
jikitotsu 直綴

kirihakama 切り袴 / 切袴 Hakama trousers of a priest