Japan

Yukata

June 5, 2013

I have a confession.

I’ve been living in Japan for about five years, and I do not own a yukata. While it’s not something everyone living in Japan must have, I feel like I’m missing out a bit.

I’ve thought about getting one in the past, and recently I’ve been revisiting these thoughts. Of course I’ve worn yukata at onsen and hotels, but I’ve never had one of my own. I guess part of me felt that since I’m not Japanese, it’s weird if I wear one. Almost like I’m an imposter. However, the more I think about it, the more I realise that it’s just clothing, and it’s part of Japanese culture. Why not jump right in?

So what exactly is a yukata?

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A yukata (浴衣 / ゆかた) is a casual kimono, generally made of cotton. They are worn in the summertime, usually to festivals (which include firework displays, temple festivals, and bon-odori festivals). Yukata are tied with a sash called an obi (帯), and worn with geta (下駄), which are wooden sandals (no socks). Drawstring bags, kinchaku (巾着) are used to carry personal items, such as cellphones, wallets, etc.


Yukata are also found in Japanese-style hotels (ryokan; 旅館), and at hot springs (onsen; 温泉). Please note that you are not supposed to take the yukata home!

AEON (a chain of shopping malls) always has yukata sets that you can buy, and as I was searching for a photo to use, I came across this commercial for the 2013 line.

Kind of interesting.

Do you have a yukata? How did you decide on the colour and pattern?

I guess I’d have to look through a number of styles and patterns to decide what I like, but I was thinking of something black, or maybe purple. My boyfriend suggested maybe something that has a white base, and then flowers (or whatever design) in another colour. If I do decide to get one, I want something simple and pretty.

The thought of festivals wasn’t the only thing that renewed my desire to own a yukata. It’s the fact that Rhea now has one, and it seems silly that she owns one, and I don’t. I’ve been wanting to get her a yukata ever since I saw them available in online dog stores, but they were always too over the top, or too expensive. As much as I love my little girl, I am not about to spend 6000 or 7000 yen on a yukata for a dog.

On Monday, we visited one of my favourite dog stores, Harness Dog. They always have nice products, and I originally went with the intention of getting more of their ear cleaner. Out on their display table they had a yakata selection for both girl and boy dogs. There were two pink ones, one purple, and one that was red and white. One of the pink ones had a rose pattern, and although I love roses, I’m not big on rose patterned clothing. The red and white one had a black “obi”, and I personally just don’t really like black on Rhea.

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We tried on the pink and purple. Both suited her, but the pink was a little more youthful, and it suited her personality better. The yukata is done up with Velcro both at the neck, and on the stomach. The fabric is thin and light, and it’s supposed to help keep bugs off. They have a few more types in their online store, which are generally reasonably priced.

Here’s Rhea modelling her new yukata!

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She doesn’t seem to mind wearing it, and never fussed with it. I haven’t decided if she’ll actually be wearing it out to festivals, because as cute as it is, summer in Japan is hot. And naked is definitely cooler than clothing.

So now it’s just up to me to decide whether or not I should get one for myself! Any suggestions?

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  • Reply C Ohara June 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Awww! I was hoping you’d show Rhea in her yukata!

    I’ve owned some cool yukata. The first two I owned were from festivals I attended or friends. I bought one more a few years ago to go watching fireworks in and it was a nice black. I’m definitely into the earth tones and dark colours!

    • Reply Adrienne June 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      If there’s a chance to show a photo of Rhea, I will always take it! Haha.

      Do you still have them?
      I think earth tones and darker colours work well on guys. They can, of course, on girls too, but I want something that looks simple and feminine. I also like purples, pinks, and reds. I half considered getting one that matches Rhea’s, but that’s just a bit too creepy, haha.

  • Reply Crystal June 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Ok, the photo of your tiny dog in a colourful yukata is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I wonder if they make ones smaller enough to fit on my sphynx cats?

    Your blog has so much cool info on life in Japan…I’m so glad I found it!

    (oh and I still think your Rhea looks like the cutest little stuffed toy 🙂 )

    • Reply Adrienne June 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks!
      How big are your cats? The store I bought Rhea’s yukata at is Harness Dog, and they have a sizing chart at the bottom of their site. There’s another online shop called iDog, but they also sell cat goods. They have yukata as well, and their sizes are a bit different, but listed on the page for each item. The iDog website is here, and their “event wear” (which includes yukata) is here.

      For the sizing charts, 首回り is neck size, 胴回り is waist size, and 目安体重 is standard body weight. iDog also uses 着丈 which is dress length (like from the neck down the back), and 前着丈 which is the length of the stomach part of the clothing.

      Long answer for your question, but if you know about how big yours cats are, I can help you check to see if there are any that would fit!

      Thanks again! I’ve been really struggling with what to write about recently, so I hope I can come up with some good topics that are interesting to read about!

  • Reply Midori June 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    If you go with a light colored yukata, make sure your under-clothes arent visible through the material! That can be a problem.
    I love yukata, but havent been able to wear mine much since it’s hard to chase down a toddler while wearing one. Mine is black with blue, pink, and purple dragonflies. I prefer a dark base with colorful accents (but no flowers!). I really had to search for one that would fit me though, since I’m tall.

    • Reply Adrienne June 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      I never thought of that! That’s awesome advice. I would hate to end up with a light coloured, see-through yukata, and then have to wear extra clothes underneath it. TOO HOT.
      How tall are you? And does it take you a long time to put on correctly?

      • Reply Midori June 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

        I think I’m about 165cm. I got a “tall” yukata, but unfortunately, they dont make “wide”….. 🙁

        Even with my dark yukata, there are some light grey parts that I worry about, so I wear a half-slip with it, in addition to a sports bra.

        I can put my yukata on pretty quickly, though I keep a yukata dressing magazine handy because I wear it so rarely, I cant remember without referring to the magazine. So I highly recommend getting something like that!! A professional at a salon would do a much better job with dressing, but since alot of Japanese girls cant do it themselves, even if I’m not perfect I still get alot of postive comments because I did it myself!

        • Reply Adrienne June 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

          I’m about 164cm, so I’ll likely have to get a tall yukata as well then, eh?
          That’s a good idea! I did find a guide online, but if I do get one, I’ll be sure to do more research so that I look like I’m at least making an attempt to get it right, haha.

  • Reply Taro June 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Happy birthday, Adrienne.

    Some of the onsen ( hot spring ) lodges offer – only to the female – several or more variety of Yukata wear.
    With or without friends, if you stay such Ryokan, you could have enough time to enjoy selecting the one you most favor.

    Imagine how nice when you dress on and view the firework displays with your friends in the hot summer – while feeling the winds or drinking the beer.

    • Reply Adrienne June 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks!

      Yes, actually, as I mentioned in my post I have worn a yukata before at both ryokan and onsen, since they’re basically robes. The one onsen I went to with friends did have a wide selection for girls, but you don’t get to keep them. In my post, I’m talking about thinking of buying one for myself to wear to festivals and so forth.

      It’s definitely a relaxing feeling! I hate beer, though, haha.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Mitzie Mee September 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I have one, but I’ve forgotten how to wear it. I remember somebody once told me, that if you fold it the wrong way, it resembles what dead people wear:/ I bought mine in a mall in Sapporo:)

    • Reply Adrienne September 18, 2013 at 1:22 am

      I’ve heard the same! All the more reason to learn to put it on correctly, right? Haha.

  • Reply Louisette May 3, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Wonderfull your dog in this dress, sweet fotos, cute!

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