Suppose there is a lady who is a skilled practitioner of Kimono (着物), which is a Japanese traditional costume. Which expression (or title) for her is better (appropriate), Kimono Master or Kimono Mistress?


By "practitioner", I meant

  1. she is a qualified teacher who gets paid for teaching how to wear Kimono;
  2. she is a professional Kimono dresser for special occasions such as wedding;
  3. she also regularly wears Kimono in daily life.

The reason why I asked about "Master vs Mistress" is that the latter seems to have the connotation of a "lover".

  • What is a practitioner of kimono? What does she do? Could you edit your post to explain that? – Em. Dec 29 '19 at 4:31
  • @Em. There is no "practitioner" of kimonos in any sense. Look at the U.S kimono school link [ waplusnara.jp/en/lesson ]. These who don't know the complex Japanese traditional garment, kimono, pay the fee to (here called Teachers) and be taught for example if belts are properly tied, the stuff or the "attachment" behind made by the kimono tie is nicely made, so on and so forth. This is not a "practice" in English sense. – user17814 Dec 29 '19 at 7:52
  • @Em. I am sorry it was a Japanese school in English. Googling does not produce any kimono school in the U.S, probably because almost no one wears kimono on daily basis but for veryyy special occasion. – user17814 Dec 29 '19 at 8:09
  • @KentaroDonatesForMonica That context would be helpful in the OP, or maybe in your answer. The concept of "cultural schooling" (so to speak) exists in English speaking countries as well. – Em. Dec 29 '19 at 8:47
  • Sensei, teacher, or expert could work. – mkennedy Dec 30 '19 at 19:38

I'll try to answer this as a generic question, not specifically for kimono, for which there are perhaps other terms. It can be asked about other professions and skills; how should we describe a woman who is a top chess player, or a conductor of an orchestra? What can be said about an impressive work of art made by a woman? Can we use "chess master", "Maestro", and "masterpiece" in these cases?

The entry "master" in Etymology online begins with "a man having control or authority; a teacher or tutor". This was originally specific to males, with "mistress" as the female equivalent.

Nowadays, as Cambridge dictionary shows, usage of "mistress" with this meaning is outdated. This word predominately means "a woman who is having a sexual relationship with a married man". Usage of this word to describe a woman of authority would be very insensitive.

Although the word "master" is sometimes considered as part of sexist language, and alternatives can be suggested in order to avoid it, it also exists as a gender-neutral word, as shown in Cambridge dictionary: "She was the victim of her circumstances rather than the master of her fate". Women get their master's degree just like men, and a work of art would be described as a "masterpiece" regardless of the artist's gender.

It may not be natural for everyone, but you can call a female chess player "chess master", and a female conductor can be called Maestro. My personal opinion is that trying to find alternative terms for women in these cases would just create other instances of sexist language.

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  • I'm sorry to say you are not answering to the OP's question in any form. Kimono, the Japanese traditional garment link [ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimono ] is so complicated and hard to wear to fit nicely, the "student" pays the Kimono (I would say) Teacher so that they learn how to wear these kimonos perfectly. It's not a practice in any way. – user17814 Dec 29 '19 at 7:41
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    The question is "Kimono Master or Mistress for a lady?". You can take my answer as stating: definitely not mistress, for the reasons I mentioned. – laugh salutes Monica C Dec 29 '19 at 9:52

We Japanese call these ladies not Kimono Masters, but rather Kimono Teachers. I think that English has not entered in the English world. My further research found an another word, the "choreographer" who is the master of arranging Kimono for the ladies in special occasions, such as from Wedding to Japanese movie. Personally, Kimono choreographer sounds very well for their professional skill and occupation.

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  • Oh, btw, "Kimono dresser" could be also applicable. – user17814 Dec 29 '19 at 3:30

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