Of ribbons and bows


I love ribbons and bows, and I love them even more after my visit to Japan. Over there, this simple accessory which emphasises femininity and cuteness all at once, is used in abundance.

At the back of the kimono, on a scarf around the neck, in a hairband on the head, in front and behind a winter coat. Just name the fashion item, and there’s bound to be a ribbon on it. And there are so many different ways to tie a bow.


Ribbon is said to have originated in France, but today Japanese manufacturers lead the world in the production of the high-quality ribbon used by the global fashion industry. Ribbons are being worn around the waist like belts; are decorating hemlines; and are being used as trim to add a touch of softness to the winter coats.

Over 90% of the ribbon made in Japan comes from a single region, Fukui Prefecture, which is located near the ancient city of Kyoto. The prefecture’s origins as a ribbon manufacturing center lie in the Meiji period (1868-1912). 


Then, Fukui artisans began making ribbons for kimono collars and hems, as well as hats, and these adornments soon caught on.

Perhaps what I find special is how the Japanese manage to make the ribbon look elegant, beyond that sweet cuteness which can often appear juvenile. It’s also interesting to note how this simple accessory is able to spruce up and smarten an outfit in an instant.


Many people wonder the reason why Japanese women are able to look so chic and groomed. I’d like to think the real secret of it lies in the Japanese’ clever use of ribbons and bows.

(Photos taken from various sources.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Fashion, Life, Travel

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