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?
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.
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!
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?