What are yukata? Are yukata a kimono?
If you've ever been to Japan during the summer season, you may have seen people dressed in beautiful, colorful outfits called yukatas. But what exactly is a yukata? Are yukata a kind of kimono? Where can you wear yukata? What kind of accessories should be worn with a yukata? These are all common questions we encounter while selling yukata and dressing customers in yukata.
Rest assured, yukata are a kind of kimono, and they are considered among the easiest types of kimono to learn how to wear. Even better, it is entirely possible for many people to dress in a yukata without needing additional help.
First things first, a yukata is a traditional Japanese garment that is an informal type of kimono. Yukata are typically made with lighter, more breathable fabrics because they are most often worn in warmer months of the year. Yukata are the preferred kimono worn to summer events such as the various matsuri festivals that take place all over Japan, and the rest of the world. Most modern yukata are made using a cotton print fabric, which also makes them easier to care for and clean than silk kimono.
To put together your first ever yukata-wearing kit here is a shopping list of accessories and parts we recommend. These lists are flexible, and some kimono dressing professionals will use more and different parts than what is recommended here such as datejime. However, this list are designed to be very beginner friendly and focus on the fundamental starting parts.
Yukata Dressing Accessory List
Female Yukata Dressing (simplified list):
-yukata of choice
-2 himo (also called koshihimo)
-1 hanhaba obi, or 1 heko obi
Male Yukata Dressing (simplified list):
-yukata of choice
-1 tanzen obi, or 1 help obi
Yukata are worn atop a layer of undergarments. Individuals have two choices in undergarments, they can go with western-style attire, or a lightweight juban. One of the main functions of underwear for kimono is to help give the kimono a more flattering appearance but to also protect the kimono from the natural oils and sweat on the human skin, thus reducing the need for washing.
Style Tip for wearing a Yukata
A frequent question we are asked is, what color should I buy for my yukata and obi? The best answer in our opinion to select the colors you like the best.
Iron your yukata for a crisp clean look. Be careful when ironing your yukata, to now iron any stains you intend to clean, because this will set a stain. Always iron with care when ironing your yukata or any kimono you own to avoid burning yourself or your kimono.
For individuals who understand the basics of kimono dressing, consider minimizing your natural curves. The seams of all kimono are a straight line, and are not a fitted curve. As such, the profile of a kimono favors straight lines without curves. Techniques to minimize the natural shape of a person's body will vary per person.
A lightweight juban with erishin can greatly improve the look of a collar on any kimono when worn.
Kimono dressing clips are a wonderful tool. They are strong enough to hold together parts of your coordination while dressing yourself and act as a second set of hands. Even better is these clips have a protective material on the inside so that they do not damage your kimono or obi.
When selecting a juban for wearing with a yukata, look for one that is unlined and made from a material such as cotton or a silk ro. A lined juban will be very warm in the summer.
Western underwear are perfectly fine for wearing with yukata. For women, we recommend a fitting white tank top, a comfortable fitted sports bra, panties, and a dress slip. For men a tshirt and set of underwear will do the trick.
What kinds of shoes should I wear with yukata? Since yukata are informal and fun, we highly recommend wearing whatever is comfortable and fun. A cute pair of sandals, or slip-on shoes is a perfectly valid option. When it comes to shoes, comfort matters. Traditional wooden geta are fun, but can be very uncomfortable to wear on hard cement and floors for very long.
Fans are a great way to cool off. Always include a folding fan in your accessory kit when going out while wearing your yukata.
Hair is usually worn up and off of all kimono, including yukata. This helps keep the kimono clean, and safe from the natural oils found in human hair. This also creates a nicer cleaner style and look when wearing your kimono.
Wearing a yukata may seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's a fun and comfortable way to experience Japanese culture during the summer season. So next time you're in Japan during the summer, be sure to try on a yukata and join in on the festivities!