Craftsmen in Japan make many different types of clothing from a variety of different materials Back in the Kamakura period, (1185-1333), most people wore clothes made of linen, and flax (which is used to make linen) was a common crop. The Emperor, the Shogun and some other important nobles wore clothes made out of silk. Silk weaving was first developed in China, and the techniques of making silk cloth were imported to Japan at about this time.

A hundred years or so before the start of the Edo period, cotton was introduced to Japan from India or China (nobody is sure which). Cotton is easier to grow than flax, and easier to use for weaving. Clothes became cheaaper and easier to produce, so people started wearing more fashionable clothing. By the early Edo period, most of the common people were wearing clothes made from cotton.

There was also a big increase in the amount of silk produced in Japan, so even low-level Government officials could afford to buy a silk kimono for special occasions. The very rich daimyo and their wives were able to afford even more elaborate silk kimono. Some of the fanciest clothes were made from fine silk, and the decorative flower patterns woven into the clothes used thread made out of gold and silver! Fancy kimono like these are exported to China, Southeast Asia, and even as far away as Europe.