Wear It During Summer in Japan! Tips and Ways to Enjoy Yukata

Yukata, a light cotton kimono that paints beautiful colors to summer in Japan, comes in a wide array of designs that range from those with bright and beautiful patterns, up to those with chic patterns that are perfect for adults. The charm of this piece of clothing has come back into the limelight of late. Let us show you how to better enjoy wearing the yukata in many different ways!

What is a yukata?

The traditional clothing in Japan is the kimono. However, under the general kimono category, there are actually different kinds of garments, one of which is the yukata. This unlined garment made with thin woven cotton is a single piece of fabric that is easily wrapped around the body. Socks are not necessary. The yutaka is a casual summer garb that can be worn by men and women of all ages.

History of the Yukata

The yukata originated from the “yukatabira” that was worn by aristocrats when they took a bath during the Heian period (794 – 1185). It is a robe that they apparently wore to prevent getting scalded by the steam whenever they entered a steam bath. The yukata offers superior air permeability and absorbs sweat really well, so it has come to be used as a robe that is worn as soon as someone gets out of the bath. Common people got to wear the yukata in the latter period of the Edo era (1603 – 1867), when the sento (public bathhouse) culture developed. During those times, people wore the yukata after bath and enjoyed the cool evening in it, eventually ending up sleeping in a yukata.
Thereafter, the yukata has become a staple sight during summer in Japan. Today, when the culture of Western-style clothes has spread in the country, the yukata has become a common feature of summer, representing an essential item in matsuri (festival), fireworks festivals and other events.

Types of Yukata

There are various types of yukata depending on the material used and dyeing method adopted. The most widely used material for the yukata is the woven “komaji” (combed cotton) that uses cotton thread. The polyester material, which is easy to get, has also become popular recently. The materials menkobai, menro, menchijimi and asachijimi are classified as high-class yukata.
The typical way of dyeing the yukata fabric is “chusen”, a technique that creates a wide range of designs, from sharp designs to pale hues. Aside from chusen, there are other traditional methods that demonstrate the skills of craftsmen, including “shibori-zome” (tie-dyeing) and “nagaita-chugata” (indigo-dyeing using a rectangular board). Meanwhile, printed yukata, which can be mass-produced, are available at relatively low prices.

When is the yukata worn?

While it may vary depending on the purpose, fabric and region, the yukata is generally worn starting June. In the olden days, it was mainly worn inside the house, but today, it can be worn anywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Note, though, that it is a casual garment, so it does not fit in formal events.
The yukata is typically worn in festivals and fireworks display competitions. It can also be used for short outings with friends. The high-end yukata with elegant designs may be worn when dining in casual restaurants. But if you wear a juban (undergarment for Japanese clothing) with neck piece and tabi (Japanese socks with split toe), then your yukata will become more formal.

How to Wear a Yukata

Wearing a yukata is really easy compared to the other types of kimono! There are even Internet websites that will teach you how to wear a yukata using photos, so you can wear it by yourself. To ensure that it is neatly worn, however, it is important to fix the body to make it look straight with no waist. Wrap a sarashi (long strip of cloth) or towel from the top of the undergarment in order to remove the contours of the body.
Now to those who find it difficult to tie an obi (sash), it would be best to use a “musubi obi” (tied sash) that has been already been formed. With it, all you have to do is tuck the obi at the back.
Further, there are many kimono rental shops where you can rent a yukata, so try to visit them.

The high-class yukata that can be used in various ways and occasions are available in department stores, kimono shops and other stores. You can even get reasonably priced yukata for casual events at such shops as UNIQLO and Don Quijote.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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