|Abstract or Summary
- The purpose of the study was to interpret and compare the meanings attributed to furisode by selected female Japanese college students living in Japan and living in the
U.S.A. The furisode is a type of kimono worn on formal occasions by young Japanese women. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in this exploratory study to further understand meanings attributed to the furisode by Japanese college students. A symbolic interactionist perspective was employed to understand the meanings which participants attached to the furisode. A purposive sample of two groups of Japanese college students were investigated: seven female Japanese college students living in Japan and seven female Japanese college students living abroad. The college students were recruited at a university in eastern Japan and at a university in western U.S.A. The semi-structured questions asked during the interviews captured participants' experiences and memories related to the furisode, its meanings, and participants' demographic characteristics.
The findings revealed that there were no particular differences in the meanings attached to the furisode by the college students in this sample living in Japan and living abroad. Emergent themes were classified into three groups: 1) symbolic themes related to culture: formal wear, age or youth, marital status, entrance into adulthood, national costume of Japan, a costume or kimono related to culture and tradition, a traditional
costume, a dress that represents conformity to other girls, a dress that represents ideal
cultural images of a wearer; 2) themes related to individual perceptions: a dress that enhances the spiritual and mental state of the mind of a wearer, a dress that makes a wearer feel pleased or happy, a dress that represents a valuable experience, a dress that reflects feelings or moods of perceivers, a dress or kimono which is valuable, a dress or kimono seen as an heirloom, a dress or kimono that represents the individuality or personality of a wearer, a dress regarded as a memento ; and 3) themes associated with the furisode itself: A dress or kimono with increased costs for preservation and maintenance, a dress or kimono that restricts the movement or activity of a wearer, a dress or kimono that takes time and labor in preparing for wear, and a dress or kimono that is rarely worn in everyday life. The study also found the sources of information for participants in both countries were a mother, a grandmother, the mass media such as TV, magazines, and a book, leaflets to promote the sale of the furisode, clerks at a kimono shop, staff at a beauty salon who had a participant put on the furisode, friends at school, friends outside the university, and neighbors. Further, the themes that emerged from the interviews also illustrated that symbolic meanings attached to the furisode were communicated meaningfully between a wearer and a perceiver in Japan.
Based on the results from this study, the furisode appears to be a cultural symbol for which shared meanings are attributed. Future research may analyze the relationships among meanings, demographic variables such as age, and other variables that influence the attitudes toward or perceptions of the furisode, such as practicing Japanese traditional arts and the wearing of other Japanese traditional costumes.