or twelve layered robe started to appear around the 10th century in the Heian Era. It must have been exhausting to wear it because it weighed about 20 kilograms and it took a long time to wear it. However, the Jyunihitoe had one good point for ladies.
Since only a few belts were used, it was very easy to take it off.
When a lady was repeatedly asked to become a lover of a man she didn't like,
when the man bribed her servants and visited her bed room late in the evening without a notice, the lady might have become very desperate to get away from him.
When she did not have time to escape or anyone to call for help,
she simply shed off the garments, just in a miutes or so, and hurried away from the suitor in her underwear.
Simple and easy?
That was the good point of the Jyunihitoe.
It didn't look easy to take off.
Right? so, it's surprizing, isn't it?
Then you may wonder --what about the suitor?
When he found only the Jyunihitoe, he must have been very disappointed.
The pile of the garments she shed off has a certain name.
The name is from the Tale of Genji, the oldest novel written by a woman.
The protagonist, Gengi was seeing a married woman.
But the second time he wanted to see her she refused and just disappeared leaving only her clothing behind.
It symbolizes the short-lived love between them?
The chapter is called Utsu-semi.
The Jyunihitoe that was shed off is called Utsusemi from this chapter, I believe.
It literally means, the empty shell of a cicada.
Why a cicada of all things?
Japanese regard some insects or their songs as beautiful or poetic.
We may see the short lives of cicadas to be noble and fragile and therefore adorable.
Utsuse-mi in Japanese has a second meaing.
It means our lives in this world.
It implies that we exist in this world only for a short while and then go back to the other world where we were from.
We go back and forth between the two worlds.