151 Japanese Hakama & Kataginu


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Hakama for men and women, all sizes based on waist measurement.
Kataginu in one size.

During the Edo period in Japan (1615-1868), members of the samurai or warrior class wore the Kamishimo, a traditional costume made up of the Kataginu or pleated-front vest and Hakama or pleated pants/skirt. The two garments were typically worn over a knee-length kimono for formal occasions. Today, the garments are frequently worn for official occasions, martial arts, and historic reenactment.

Since the Hakama is simply a large rectangle of fabric that is pleated to fit your body, the pattern does not have a large rectangle pattern piece (waste of paper!). Instead, there are complete instructions for measuring, cutting, and pleating the traditional Hakama skirt/pant in any size. The pattern does include actual pattern pieces for Small, Medium-Large, and Sumo-Size Koshiita (Backboard) and Koshiita Triangles. For contemporary sportswear, pattern also includes instructions for optional side panels to fill in the side-seam gaps that expose the underlying kimono in traditional wear.

The wide-shoulder Kataginu can be made to match the Hakama for a traditional samurai appearance or as a contrasting wearable art accent. Easy to pleat and sew, it completes a dramatic outfit.

Suggested Fabrics: For Kataginu: Crisp, tightly woven cottons; linens and linen blends; ramie; hemp; silks, including shantung, habotai, pongee, satin, or taffeta. Note: You may have to starch fabric to preserve pleats. For Hakama: Same as Kataginu, but also lightweight wool suiting.

NOTE: The Thai blouse (yellow) from 134 Southeast Asian Tops & Wraps is paired with the Hakama in these photos (and traditionally wraps right over left, unlike Japanese garments, which wrap left over right for living people).

Yardage chart (.pdf)


  • For how to make the hakama larger than 42" waist, we have a PDF that explains, in detail, how to use your own measurements to make the hakama.  
  • Sewing Tip:  Fran S. from Canada completed the hakama, which she says got a nice reception at her dojo, and offers these helpful hints: It should appear that there are five, not six, pleats in the front of the hakama (for the five virtues, which are benevolence, justice, courtesy or propriety, integrity and wisdom), so make sure the overlapping pleats at center front overlap enough so they don't pull apart; she suggests a little more than the 3/4" in the pattern, especially if you use a heavy fabric. Also, make sure the back himo are long enough; she suggests they should be 3/4 the length of the front himo rather than the 1/2 as directed in the pattern. Fran also recommends Supertex for the backboard stiffener. It is a bookbinding board/leather mix used in handbags and luggage that offers "just the right combination of stiffness and flexibility." She says it comes in different weights, but is not washable.
  • A customer from Pennsylvania shares the following: "The pattern suggestions for the side stiffening of the Kataginu note that whalebone was traditionally used, and now thin slices of bamboo are used.  Even though I have access to bamboo, I use sport webbing. I cut a wide webbing to 3/8" (1cm) and sew it to the Kataginu edge, then turn it under twice for a clean finish (and so I don't have to make a casing)."