The Meaning of the Pleats


Numerous interpretations for the meaning of the hakama pleats are in existence today. There is also some difference of opinion as to how many pleats are counted. The use of five is more common than seven, although seven is also considered a good luck and auspicious number. Two of the more popular interpretations are listed below:

Interpretation #1
The five pleats in the front are the five virtues; gotoku, of Japanese traditional society, with the one in the back representing all five virtues are actually one major one, that of being a complete human being.
The five are:
Chuu: loyalty Ko: justice Jin: humanity; compassion Gi: from giri; or honor Rei: respect

Five is usually used as gotoku and not only means "five virtues," but it also means a stand for the iron kettle used to heat water in old Japanese houses, meaning it is a foundation. In the tea ceremony there are four virtues:
wa: harmony kei: respect sei: purity jaku: enlightenment; wisdom

Acknowledgement: Our sincerest thanks to Mr. Wayne Muromoto, publisher and editor of "Furyu Magazine: The Budo Journal", for providing us with the above explanation. Mr. Muromoto, who has based his opinion on Inoue Masataka's interpretation, feels that this is just one of many possible interpretations in existence today.

Interpretation #2
The second explanation states that there are seven pleats (five in the front and two in the back) and that these represent the seven virtues of budo:
Jin: benevolence Gi: honor or justice Rei: courtesy and etiquette Chi: wisdom, intellligence Shin: sincerity Chu: loyalty Koh: piety