Feb 14, 2020

Yukata - a casual kimono for hot summer days



It is a traditional Japanese garment either made of cotton or even synthetic fabric and usually unlined. The beauty of the garment is how it is worn with a decorative belt holding it together, depending on the specifications. The yukata is also known as kitsuke. Though being a traditional outfit, it is not adhering to the strict rules of kimono, which is considered formal wear and has to be worn as per notified methods of wearing it. People adorn the yukata during the summer months because of the breathable fabric that is used to put the ensemble together. The garment itself is dated back to 100 or more years when it was worn by nobility and functioned like a bathrobe before towels were used.

The best time to wear Yukata

The yukata is quite preferenced during the fireworks festivals as many people turn up in this kind of wear to enjoy such commemorations. It must be known that it is an affordable garment and comes cheap than getting yourself a silk kimono and helped people when there was an era wherein people followed austerity measures yukata was the preferred choice of clothing. It is ‘T’ shaped garment but having lesser components that what usually goes along with a kimono. This particular outfit does require something to be worn underneath, which is called nagajuban. The length can be adjusted with the kind of fold known as the ohashori; the obi that goes with the garment is found to be narrower and gives the informal impression. To make it easier to adorn, you can get an obi with a pre-tied bow to go with your yakuta.

Why is yukata different from other outfits?

Sandals made of wood are what go with the whole outfit, known as the geta. Whereas the zori is worn for the kimono, which kind of looks like a Japanese version of canvas shoes. To accessorise the whole outfit, you could add a broach to the obi or choose to adorn the hair with an ornament, which is known as the kanzashi. There are ways to modernise the yakuta with sheer obi on the top. Since this garment is both for men and women, you will find that men wear this a little differently. The main fold isn’t required, and they have to fasten the belt lower down the waist creating an illusion of a pot belly even fancy a yukata pad for the same.

The casualness of the garment makes it ideal for the summer, and the unlined version is apt for the weather outdoors. The yukata is justifiably worn more by women, though young men to wear them as a trend. This garment allows for experimentation as you cold go flamboyant with the colors, designs, and patterns. Teaming with different accessories also going with the look can be part of the whole ensemble. Wearing yukata or the kimono the wrong way is not permissible. The left panel over the right is the right way of wearing because the other way round would symbolise how the dead are dressed in the cultural sense. To confirm you don’t end up having a major faux pas, allow your right hand to slip underneath the uppermost panel of your garment.

More preferred than kimono

A kimono comes expensive, and they have to be well cared for, as they cost a lot and not found readymade but bespoke for people getting them. But yakata is easily available, and you wouldn’t have to bother about the care as well. The garment can be got online stores. You could buy this garment as set by ordering them online form outlets which such sell such traditional garments. People who may find the kimono elaborate can settle for the kimono. For tourists who want to have fun in the traditional outfit can check on the yukatas, which are more comfortable for your sojourn and easily available at rental shops. If you want to have a souvenir, you can shop for them as well as there so many shops to cater to such needs of customers.

It's lightweight, and you may find that men and women can adorn them, even men can confidently carry off the garment with elan. There are different styles to choose from at the rental shops, and they help you wear them as well. It's your choice to rent them for a few hours or the whole day. There are various patterns to choose from, whether you are for the traditional or the modern styles is your pick, and the assistants will help you in the entire process. You can find fittings of the picks you have made. The entire process may last half an hour, and you are dressing up in the traditional yakuta. They suit any body type and flatter anyone who dons it.

Tips to wear them like a pro

The male yukata is easier to put on and takes a lot lesser time. The main components would be a yukata, obi, and under-sash with the help of two cloth strings and a bath towel to give the potbelly effect. With the undershirt on, fix the bath towel on your waist. If you prefer to wear on the bare chest, it all depends on your comfort and preference. The yukata for women is straight fit, whereas men have to show off their paunch, which shouldn’t be taken lightly as been worn seen in ancient times. If you don’t have a natural pot belly, you could use the bath towel as the prop, and you fasten with the help of cloth string.

The wearer will be wrapping the yukata while adjusting the yukata around your body, making sure that the edges reach your ankles. Making sure that you always have the left side is on the top. You can further adjust the collar and length as per your convenience. You have to follow the rule of not keeping too open, making it look sloppy as it becomes loose, hence the cloth strings around the waist will do the job of keeping your yukata in place. The waistband comes next, which doesn’t have many styles for men. The tying would be casual and not elaborate as would be for women. The most common method would be kainokuchi. Usually, the waistband for men is narrower as compared to the one's women don.

The obi has to be folded in half before you proceed to wrap it around your waist; this has to be lengthwise, making sure you adjust the right side is shorter than the left side, which has to be left longer. The obi has to placed in such a manner that it has aligned to the height of the hips when tying it, allowing the right side to dangle to your knees. This part has to be folded in half, placing the crease at the center of the abdomen, and the remaining half has to wrapped the other way round twice so that it overlaps the shorter side. Then fix the upper part of the obi, using the longer end and folding it inwards and match the shorter side and overlap as you do so inwardly and tighten it by tying it putting together a knot. Doing this may

be complicated, but with the help of tutorials online and pictures, you could do this in a few tries. But if you are getting it fitted, there will be people who will help you get into this attire effortlessly.

After you are done with the knot flip it back, you would have done so gently by turning it all the while clasping at the knot and turning slightly around. The knot can either on your right or left as you want it to be. The obi then has to be slightly below the waist for the men, unlike women, which is almost on the solar plexus level. If you haven’t worn the yukata well, then there are chances that it can easily come loose, giving the wearer an untidy look. The situation can be fixed and save you from embarrassment by putting the yukata well. Tying up with cotton strings can be tricky, and the result the hemline may look uneven, and you may have to keep adjusting this when you move about. It can’t firmly be fitted like having buttons to hold in place. Hence you will have to work on not showing your legs each time you walk. You have to make sure the strings are tightened, and the hem adjusted each time this happens and tuck up the skirt in an orderly manner. The collar, too, can become loose due to certain movements. There is a hole under the left armpit that is conspicuous to the others, which you can effectively use to adjust the collar. It can be done in private and make sure that the collar stays in place. The ohashori can become short, or the length changed due to movement, insert your fingers under the sash and tuck away your skirt to the desired length. If the knot comes undone and hanging out. You could put a handkerchief to fill in the gap under the sash and back. The rental yukatas come with a pre-made knot or bow. Hence you may not have to worry about it anymore.

Why its culturally important?

Wearing a yukata right is the way of being an ideal Japanese woman and being traditional Japanese clothing which is worn less and fewer people wearing it except for special occasions and pictures. It still has some following in the rural regions and among the older generation who find comfort in the dress that adorned their ancestors years before. The people have found it be a great representation fo their culture as well as a robe that is comfortable and elegant. It isn’t complicated to wear a yukata when you get the hang of it. The rental shops will work it out for you when you are a first-timer and make sure you have worn it the right way.

There are some places wherein you can wear the yukata and take some glorious pictures to reminisce your time in Japan, especially the Sensoji Temple and Sumida river, wherein a lot of people have got some lovely photos to take home to. Here you can capture the cherry blossoms which are along the river, which make it an apt setting with your yukata attire. Temples with their serene atmosphere and you in the traditional wear make an awesome picture to cherish for a long time. There are other places you could explore Arshiyama, which has a lovely red and gold foliage that you could pick out and making sure you pick a yukata that matches the surroundings.

Difference between the kimono and yukata

When you end wearing a yukata for the summer, you will know how comfy it is from all the kinds of clothes that you have tried. It suits the weather in Japan, and people have done all

the work when wearing this garment. Its an awesome piece of clothing to don or to own as well. A lot of inns too offer you this garment during your stay there if you prefer to wear one. Though people get confused by the yukata and kimono, they are two kinds of garments that are worn in Japan. The former is casual wear, and the latter happens to be an expensive and rather formal garment. They different begins with the fabric used to make them. They usually are used in the different seasons of the year and are worn on different occasions as well. The kimono is a rich looking piece of the garment usually made from silk. Whereas the yukata is the cheaper cousin made from cotton hence breathable during the hot summer months.

The kimono has several layers and practically unfit as summer wear. The kimono being from an expensive cut of cloth is expensive and practically has to be well cared for when you aren’t wearing it. The casualness of the garment makes it suitable for many people to buy it and wear it often as it is affordable as well. The cotton material used is lightweight and suits the climate of the hot summer months and can be worn regularly. Its quite popular garment to be worn during the firework festival known as the Hanabi. Here both male and female sport the yukatas of various hues and designs to watch the colorful display of light during the festival, which is symbolising the honoring of their ancestors.

They are also used as bathrobes by some and given out as such in some Japanese inns. Yukatas can be worn on all seasons. The style of the yukatas is more relaxed hence can be worn by most people comfortably. You can stretch the imagination go in for bright and eye-catching colours, and patterns that have the taste of contemporary trends and wear your yukata in that hue and get on the bandwagon of fusing the modern with the old and twisting it of your own like the present generation of yukata wearers are doing. Though you would initially find them in indigo-dyed cotton, now you can make a huge splash with colors and designs that define your taste and way of wearing traditional attire with a contemporary twist.

Why the tradition continues?

Younger women have got a new way of wearing it with different hairstyles and defying broaches to part from the clour schemes on the yukata. But older women have stuck to their roots and preferred subtle colours and designs that make it more traditional. The men often choose darker shades of yukata for wear. It’s a must-have in so many Japanese households, and many have become converts and chosen the yukata as attire by many others who don’t belong to japan and bought one for keepsakes. You can get them online and shop them in many retail stores in japan or rent one to fulfill your desire for wearing a traditional Japanese outfit.

You will find even children wearing one on the streets of Japan, its quite a popular dress form. The men have shorter sleeves, whereas the women have a little more extension to cover up their arms completely. These were also used as bathrobes by the ancient Japanese, and some continue to use it in the same way or put it in use as a form of daily wear in the summer. Since you find a lot of hot springs in and around Japan, it is good to be wearing a yukata if you want to go in for a quick bath. It's very good to absorb the moisture of the body hence a good bathrobe for many. This garment is often seen and worn in the onsen towns. You could also get wooden clogs to go with it.

Strolling the streets of these towns in the traditional attire and actual clogs on one’s feet makes us nostalgic about so many years back people of the past walked the same lanes dressed similarly. Summer festivals now have brought the yukata look back in vogue, the modern youth have gone back to wearing the yukata and making it trendy once again. The fabric is caught with a lot of abstract art and patterns that remind of modern wear but with a blend of traditional.

It sure is appealing to the new generation who find wearing a yukata a cumbersome process, but when they find that tourists catch up the fantasy as well the multitude of colors and fabrics, it is found in as well the benefit of wearing them in hot summers has brought it back with a bang indeed. People often confuse the kimono and the yukata, but fancy and multiple layered ones are the kimono and the subtle and single-layered clothing will the yukata, which you could pick on and wear. You either make it a gaudy look or keep it down as per your tastes, but if you happen to go all out, there are several choices to pick from right from the fabric, design, and even the colour.

The men tend to wear more subdued colours, and females tend to go for colourful ones depending on their age. Learning to wear a yukata is simple if you follow the steps and tie the knot as prescribed. People can wear an outer jacket if they want to wherein you tie the coat to chest level so that they can be secured. Even the sleeves in the yukata have used as you could carry things in them just like pockets. The coats are good when the weather is chilly outside, and you could have a coat with pockets as well to carry smaller things such as keys etc.

There are several hot springs in Japan and you will find many people wearing yukatas, for long they have been acting as bathrobes. The visitors would love to try out the traditional dress, and many of them flaunting one will be a common sight. You could see pretty much everything wearing a yukata, and it will not hinder any of your movements either your stroll visit to restaurants and or quick bath all can be covered without having to change several times over. You can enjoy the beauty of Japan and explore the different facets it has to offer with differing landscapes while donning the yukata. This could be a double whammy as you get to enjoy the chance to live the life of the local with the dress and move around the place as one and mingle with them and experience the smells and flavours of the place. The dressing in the local attire adds to the ambience and make up for you as experience that you will never forget and memories to carry forward about travels — experiencing the clop of the clogs on your feet, unlike any other footwear that you have so far worn. The look and the feel of the fabric give you different world feeling which is indescribable but amazing feeling within.