In noh, kosode refers to full-length, T-shaped robes with crossed front lapels forming a V-shaped collar, worn by characters of men and women of all ages both as an under-robe or as an outer-robe. The name, literally 'small sleeves', refers to the size of the opening at the cuff, not the length of the sleeve pocket. It is a forerunner of the modern kimono.
The Edo-period kosode was made of two sleeve panels and two body panels, cut from a material some 38 centimeters wide. In addition, it had two half-width lapels attached one to each of the front panels and a collar that ran around the neck and edges the front panels. Earlier kosode often had wider body panels and half-width sleeves. The sleeves of the kosode are sewn up at the outer edge till the wrists, creating a sleeve pocket. Kosode worn in noh have sleeves sewn completely to the body panels, but the sleeves on Edo-period street kosode often were only stitched to the body from the shoulder to chest level, leaving the lower portion of the sleeves unattached. This made possible varying the vertical length of the sleeves, the longer ones being known as furisode. In the noh child roles can be dressed in furisode.
Kosode Types Used in Noh and Kyōgen
Kosode are the basic body cover for noh outfit, though other garments may be placed on top of them. The surihaku 摺箔 and noshime 熨斗目 serve as under robes for women and men respectively, while the karaori 唐織, nuihaku 繡箔, and atsuita 厚板 can function either as outer garments or be worn under another garment.