Go Premium
Facebook Twitter Google Plus

What is a Yukata?

July 16, 2016

Comments

Share Post

Yu-ka-taaaa!!!! I’m so excited about this TL;DR video! With the hot weather in full effect in Japan, my friend mentioned in passing that he was going to go buy a yukata. I was like…what is that. Well turns out a yukata is a light and casual summer kimono that many people wear out to the various summer festivals. It was originally created as an easy piece of clothing to wear between the bathhouse and the home back in the golden olden days of Japan. So essentially…this is a classy bathrobe…HAHA! Now technically the yukata is a kimono in the sense that kimono literally means “a thing to wear” but most people understand that “kimono” specifically means the more classic Japanese costumes while yukata is a casual outfit.

In my attempt to learn more about the yukata, I discovered a lot of interesting things going on regarding the drama of the kimono world. The yukata is actually coming back into style and is rekindling a fire in the younger Japanese generation due to the yukatas ability to be reinterpreted and redesigned. Funky shops are popping up selling crazy bold prints, fashion designers are using new types of fabrics (like polyester rathe than just cotton), and they are even printing graphic designs based on famous Japanese novels or classic movies. But the kimono comes with so many rules, it is having a hard time being modernized.

I read an eye opening quote by Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, who said, “The real reason why traditional kimono culture is about to (become) extinct is because of its tendency to aspire to ‘perfection’ as a style that does not allow any other foreign item to be added to it. My advice for anyone wearing kimono is to challenge this rigidity; let’s forget about attending kimono lessons.”

At first, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of the kimono not being cool and going extinct. But I guess I can relate to the concept of the kimono becoming extinct if you think about the era of silk stocking, huge ballroom gowns, boning, corsets, and petticoats being now extinct. While some people might enjoying wearing this type of Victorian fashion, it was eventually made extinct with the changing times. If the kimono doesn’t change with time, it might be left behind which is really really sad for Japan.

In recent years the sales of kimonos have plummeted and majority of people in Japan don’t even own one. With the popping up of kimono rental shops, a lot of Japanese people simply rent a kimono if they have to go to an event that requires one. Sadly, the more people attempt to keep the kimono as a sacred ceremonial dress with tons of rules, the more it is causing the kimono to become die out. Traditional kimono fabric makers have no one to pass the business onto and all their skills are ending with them. The younger generation has complained about the complication of having to go to a kimono lesson to learn how to wear them properly and in the end, they just don’t bother going.

So what are all these rules people keep talking about? The traditional kimono is usually made out of silk or another heavy fabric, has over 12 parts to it, and has many rules attached to it. The rules of wearing a traditional kimono will change according to many different things: if you’re young, eligible for marriage, looking for a date, or married. If you’re young or old. The month of the year can change the colour! AHHH!!! Putting it on is another set of complicated rules. Plus they are really expensive. We’re talking a new kimono, with all the parts, can cost up to $10,000. Did you read that? DID YOU!!?? That is insane. That is a car. No wonder the rental shops are so popular! Plus, you can’t even put a kimono on by yourself! It requires many little pieces to be matched and secured in a special way and you often have to go to a licensed professional kimono dresser to help you put it on.

So this is where the yukata comes in. With its lack of strict rules and its ability to be featured in the fashion world, I think it could make the kimono cool again. Not in my book, because I think Victorian fashion and the kimono are STILL super cool!!! Haha but you know what I mean.

Also, a couple notes on anyone worried about offending people by wearing a yukata or kimono in Japan. Unless you are wearing it incorrectly (for example, the left side of the yukata is wrapped OVER the right side, while the other way is for dead people) Japanese people are super excited to see people taking part in their culture. And I’m specially talking about Japanese people in Japan. If you’re invited to a Japanese festival (a matsuri) and you wear a yukata, everyone will be thrilled! The yukata is just comfy and pretty summer clothing. It doesn’t make you Japanese no more then a Japanese businessman wearing a business suit is trying to American.

If you’re visiting Japan, check out a local furugiya (a second hand kimono shop) to buy a cheaper yukata/kimono in the $100 price range or check out the shop Tansuya. If you’re visiting Kyoto, I heard there are many shops that will rent you a kimono for the day.

Lastly, we have some extra scenes from our Yukata shopping, including Martina’s bizarre way of wearing her shoes…

Comments

34

Share Post

TL;DR

HIDE COMMENTS

What is a Yukata?

34 COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

  1. I really want a Yukata – especially now that Japan is getting hotter so I Googled Tansuya – and found out there is one in Yamato-shi where I live! I am so happy, I will probably check it out and if I don’t see fabrics I like explore the ones in Yokohama and Tokyo!

    :D

    2 months ago
  2. So some of the commenters have suggested that you guise either go somewhere that will custom print for you or that you guise design your own yukata material: I think this is a fantastic idea! I’d certainly buy one, just as I’d certainly buy a Pusheen yukata!!

    1 year ago
  3. I soooo love your yukata… what is the name of store you bought it? me wanna…
    i bought my yukata this year and i would love to be able to choose from more than flower-y stuff (i bought the only one without flowers)… T-T if only i would know about this store before

    1 year ago
  4. Martina I think the yukata you picked out was perfect. The colors and the stripes really really suit you! I want to see a close up of the pirate ship!

    Simon- would you even be able to buy a yukata at a store without having to alter it? I mean, you’re SO tall! I know a lot of times you have to get custom shoes or order from overseas, I worry that if you got a yukata off the rack it would only go down to your knees or maybe mid-calf. I’m sure it would be more expensive to have one custom made, but then at least it would fit properly and you could pick out a fabric that truly suits you.

    Thank you for posting this video! I have always loved kimono and yukata, and I have always wanted to own one!

    1 year ago
  5. Simon! Robe Japonica in Harajuku, gogogo

    1 year ago
  6. Wow I didn’t know there was such a thing as a yukata. I have only heard of a kimono before. It’s sad that kimonos and yukatas are getting less popular. Who knew that kimonos were so complicated. Good thing that yukatas aren’t as complicated. I have always wanted a kimono or yukata but they’re so expensive!

    1 year ago
  7. okay okay i promise i’ll stop after this one, but here! cheap but fluffy scarf-type bows for your obi, martina! =) ahh the wonder that is rakuten <3
    item.rakuten.co.jp/kyoetsu-orosiya/10003918/

    1 year ago
  8. Hi Martina, I think you picked the perfect yukata! It looks amazing on you. Can you share the place you bought the yukata or any other recommendations in Tokyo?

    1 year ago
  9. I think Simon could design a new, more brightly colored men’s line of traditional Japanese clothing like yukata. I bet it would sell.

    As a female, I actually have always preferred, for myself, the more (traditionally) drab colors, so I can appreciate why he would like something different (since my taste isn’t usual for my gender either). Also, I’m pretty tall, so the men’s stuff has a bonus of fitting better. I’m sure Simon’s not the only male who’d like to see a break from that traditional notion of fabric and color for me; rebel!! Also, the idea of MATCHING yukatas is a perfect fun summer idea imho!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I hadn’t realized there were “modern” kimono/yukata in that sense or that the kimono was facing such extreme trials.

    1 year ago
  10. UNIQLO is selling yukata!! So cool! I wouldn’t have even looked if it weren’t for this video – thanks S&M ;3

    1 year ago
  11. I love the Yukata! The colors are so lovely and the pattern really suits you Martina! I remember looking for an informal kimono online and got dizzy reading all the types of kimonos, their length, colors, patterns and accessories, but only later realized i was looking for so-called Yukatas. I enjoyed reading it, but it was just too much to remember haha

    1 year ago
  12. Look for the yukata shop “Tsukikageya” for funky prints :)

    1 year ago
  13. Hi everyone! Martina you look positively beautiful in your yukata! YOU are the finishing touch that makes it extra special.

    A couple of years ago I was looking online for kimono designs for my character on my “Animal Crossing” game. I wanted my character to have an authentic kimono design. Animal Crossing is a online social game for the 3DS, where your character meets people from all over the world. I was so happy when my character met some people who were from Japan. They thought my kimono was awesome. They began to speaking in Japanese thinking I was Japanese too. They were totally shocked to learn I was from Canada & not from Japan. I told them I did a lot of online research to find the perfect kimono. They were very impress. They even took pictures of my character. They made me I feel kinda special.lol

    While I was researching online for my kimono I came across an article that said that the government is considering Kimono Day in Japan to encourages people to wear Kimono. Type in “kimono day” & you’ll see the article.

    P.S. sorry for the rant. I just love kimono.lol

    1 year ago
  14. Your yukata was so cool and such nice colours! I heard that yukatas at thrift stores were cheaper but do you know by how much?

    1 year ago
  15. Thank you guys for addressing concerns of cultural appropriation as well as educating us on the history of the yukata! I’m all for appreciating and delving into other cultures but sometimes people don’t understand (or worse, don’t care) that the way they treat those cultures can be offensive or damaging. I still have a lot of (mostly white) friends who can’t fathom the harm it does so it really makes my day to see how respectful and careful you guys are with these issues :)

    1 year ago
  16. I really want to get a yukata for myself but as I live in America, this is really hard. I’m now a lot more determined to find something that I can get delivered to me here after seeing how happy you are having one, though! If you guys ever do develop Spudgy and Meemers fabric, that’s what my first choice for a yukata would be. Just saying.

    Unrelated question. People don’t say “bless you” after sneezing in Korea or Japan, right? I’m the kind of person who will shout it in a crowded room if I even think I hear someone sneeze or will tell it to a tv screen if it happens in a movie or a show. I get personally offended when people I care about don’t say it to me (it’s a problem, I know, I’m working on it). Do you guys still say bless you when people sneeze or has the habit disappeared? Please help me satisfy my random curiosity.

    1 year ago
  17. aaaah Martina please share the name of this beautiful store!!

    1 year ago
  18. Yay! This was a great video! I am so happy that you did a TL;DR but also that it was about yukatas! I love the idea of yukatas and they seem so much more sensible in the heat (being made of cotton rather than silk). I am not an expert (so please no one kill me if I say something you disagree with), but I did make a yukata for my husband back when we first got married (he’s into anime) and well, the sewing pattern is just rectangles, so it wasn’t too hard to sew. I think that Simon will have to have a custom one made just because of his size, no matter the pattern, but you can probably get it made by a regular seamstress for much less than at a kimono store. Buy your own fabric online (of the correct weight, it’s a little heavier than just regular cotton) and then bring it to the seamstress. I do lovelovelove the fabric for Martina’s yukata though, and it was obviously designed for a yukata, it is just super funky and cool. The rose one with the polka dots would have been more flattering because of its simpler design just because you have so much going on with your hair colour/style/accessories but go big or go home, right? ;) As for the obi, well, that is *meant* to have someone help you so…..without lots of cords and shoehorns, it’s just like putting on a kimono. I believe also, that the reason the lady in the store put on so many poofy bits and what not on the back of the obi was to give Martina the “perfect” silhouette which is very difficult for you to achieve with your giant rack in the front (yes, I’m jealous, why do you ask?;) ). If you want to look great, I think you’ll have to customize your belts a bit and back off from the “perfect” Japanese look because it actually makes you look…..well, perfect but very square. The difference in your waist and bust and hips is too large to fit into the traditional Japanese perfection which actually flattens the bust almost completely. I would definitely try an obi belt (rather than an obi proper) which is like an oval in the front and just a belt in the back that wraps around to tie in the front (very popular in the 1970s and now back in). The ’70s are back so it’s likely you can find something in any store that sells accessories. If you are up to sewing, you can easily diy with some quilting on the oval to keep if from creasing. They can be made too, to look like an obi with the cord that ties it on a kimono (ie. different fabric for the belt part than the oval part) and still gain the look of an obi but be MUCH easier to install. Also, the obi belts are usually a little narrower and will sit under your bust, rather than partially over them, much more comfortable. If you really like the big bow part of an obi, you can get clip-on (or make your own) accessories which are also easier to install on a belt. Personally, I would forget also the first “under belt”, it is adding inches where you don’t want them (unless you are a boy in drag). The under belt (I forget the japanese name) is mainly to hold your garment together with the fold under below the waist while you tie the obi. Take some ribbon, tack it with a few stitches to each side of the inside seams of your yukata and also to the closure parts of the front(like under a martial arts gi – I would guess that you’ve seen one because of your Dad?) and use these to keep it in place instead. You will wear your yukata much more confidently if you are comfortable and if you look great, I don’t think even your grandma neighbour will find a reason to criticize you :). I think you will find it difficult to find wooden sandals in your size that are cute but in a pinch, get the men’s sandals (they are the same, I think?) and then braid some pretty ribbons (or use scarves or leftover strips of sleeves from t-shirts) to put in instead for the fabric parts (they are just knotted beneath the wood). If you need more ideas, maybe you can look at some yukata/kimono cosplayers. In some cases it’s about looking super sexy, in others though, it’s just about marrying the garments to the non-Japanese body type better. Good luck, I’m sure you will wrangle that yukata into place, and if you can get a matching one with Simon someday, I think it would be awesome. Simon has such a cool style, while the traditional yukata patterns for men are nice (I love shibori!), they seem a little staid to really compliment his usual panache. With you hair and beard, you will look great Simon, I hope you find a nice one and take some photos.

    1 year ago
    • Oh, I really liked that you discussed the status of the fashion of yukatas and kimonos. You were very thorough on the subject and it really added to the segment’s quality. I think that the awkwardness of running into the neighbour lasted a little too long for my comfort though, I feel for you Martina – keep trying! I also think that yukatas would make a great comeback, especially for women since they are so in fashion these days, perhaps even internationally, if they were easier to wear. Men usually just wear a belt instead of an obi, so theirs is already easier. I’m thinking of making some for my family made out of crazy cool funky towels for the beach to wear at, well, the beach XD

      1 year ago
  19. Great video! I admire many of the traditional costumes of different countries, but kimonos are one of my favourites. It’s just so interesting to me how kimonos look so relaxed and simple garments, but then again they have all those crazy rules and actually there is like a million pieces in the costume and it is anything but a simple thing to wear and aaaaaahh..!
    The yukata Martina picked looked so cool and suited her so well! Really fitting her style and personality and hair and everything :D Really nice to hear that yukatas are making a comeback in fashion, even if just a little. Since there can be so much variation in patterns, colours etc. I think they could really have a chance to keep the tradition alive and change with time. In my homecountry (Finland) the traditional costumes are also going extinct, pretty much for the same reasons as in Japan (price, rules, feels old-fashioned to many), but trying to modernize them is a bit harder because different regions/towns/villages have their own costume (there’s about 400 different ones) with very precise descriptions of what kind of pieces, materials, colours, patterns, accessories etc. a proper costume can have. Kind of an uniform, now that i think about it :DD So we are kind of stuck with the old versions since there is very little room for change, and that’s why I fear that the tradition in its current form will eventually die out.
    And your neighbour lady is so sweet! I’m jealous :D Though I couldn’t help laughing when she appeared just when you were outside shooting Martina wearing the yukata. The moment when Martina showed the clip in the back! (totally something I would’ve done). Just why does it always happen that you’ll run into people when you hope that you manage to avoid them…

    1 year ago
  20. also is your yukata from furifu? <3

    1 year ago
  21. I have a Yukata that I love to wear around the house. It’s very comfy and quite a traditional blue and white pattern. Living in Northern Ireland doesn’t really give me any cause to wear it outside the house, I love it none the less! Next is to hunt down some tabi socks and getta. I can feel an expensive eBay shopping trip coming on!!!

    1 year ago
  22. If you find the long obi hard to do up by yourself, there are also ones that are sort of like cheat obis that just have the wide panel part (that is way shorter & doesn’t need to be wrapped around the waist a million times) that you just wrap around your waist and secure with the strings at the end. And instead of having to fold/form the ends in the back to form the bowsie, you can get pre-made bows that just hook over the obi. No muss, no fuss! Love that hair ornament you picked! I’ve seen some pretty slick ones that have long dangly flowers on them that cost around $100. Too rich for my blood….but if I visit Japan again & have a temporary insanity moment of weakness, I may cave and splurge on one! And $70 per tulle sash? Ridonkulous! Imagine how many yakitori sticks and plates of Coco curry you could stuff your maw with instead! Oh, and I’ve also seen yukatas for pets too so if you wanna match with your babies…. :)

    1 year ago
  23. First of all, I LOVE your yukata! It is so great, and looks just like you!
    Second, as a kimono enthusiast, but not a subscriber to the “tradition” of kimono styling, I have to say it’s making me sad that you are billing regular kimono as hard to wear and rigidly formal. That’s not true at all! Yes there are some types of kimono reserved for traditional things and formal occasions; that’s true for any culture’s clothing. But! There is a type of regular kimono called a komon. It’s casual wear. While yukata is like the tank and shorts of the western world, komon is like jeans and a t-shirt. They are just about as easy to wear as yukata, except that unlike yukata, you wear an under layer called a nagajuban (or just juban for short) and tabi socks and zori (traditional Japanese footwear).
    Anyway, the real point I wanted to make was that the “tradition” of the kimono is only about 100 years or so old. So in history’s eye, really, really new, and not very “traditional” at all. Back in the day, people wore them for work and play and all sorts of things after all. The traditional way to wear clothing in Japan is actually very loose and comfy, as things are going to be if you are wearing them for casual use.
    It makes me sad that you as such prominent personalities only talked about the hard rigid side of kimono and not the fluid casual side as well,since that only reinforces the idea that kimono isn’t a thing to be worn in a casual way, but I suppose it makes sense since finding the alternative to the traditional style is hard to do.
    And, for Simon, it’s true that yukata and kimono for men are very subdued and not as interesting as women’s, but if you don’t mind going against the grain a bit, Men’s juban are often very colorful and have the coolest patterns. Some men decide to wear them as outerwear simply because they are so much prettier than actual kimono.
    And again, if you can find some second hand odori dance yukata/kimono, those tend to be all kinds of crazy!
    It’s all about how you look at it!
    Thanks for a fun TL;DR, and I hope your kimono passion gets kindled as you learn the ins and outs of kimono style (and start to make a kimono style all your own)!

    1 year ago
  24. Aah long time no TL;DR!! Really missed this segment :)
    I think the yukata really suits you Martina (especially with your current purple-pink hair color)! Have you thought about buying a kimono too? :D

    1 year ago
    • From what we’ve read about Kimonos, they are suuuuper expensive. And a lot more difficult to wear. So we’ll pass on those for now :)

      1 year ago
      • You can find awesome deals on them in flea markets and 2nd hand shops. Just make sure the kimono is as long as you are tall (maybe a little bit less is ok but just a little). It does take practice to put on though because it’s like putting on two yukata one over the other and getting both to be nice and flat.

        1 year ago
  25. Wow, you look lovely in that yukata. Love your choice, it says “This is me.” My mom was watching with me & she laughed when you turned around with that giant clip on your obi. She says you need an obasan to help you, it’s never easy doing it alone.

    1 year ago
  26. The colors ou your yukata looked beautiful especialy outside in the natural light~! It is soooo you~ good thing youbchose that one^^

    Btw, about the flowers in hair and being crazy in Korea… we have that saying here in Poland~ “Każda wariatka ma na głowie kwiatka” ~ Simon, can you understand that one~? I bet you do ^^

    Btw#2 Tomorrow i’m setting off to Korea with my brother, one of our must go to is You Are Here Café ~ any recommendation of what to order~?! And please don’t tell me everything is delicious~ i’m sure it is… but since i usually have difficulty in deciding what to order i could seriusly use your help here ^^

    Lots of love from Poland
    -Michalina-

    1 year ago
  27. I like your yukata :) I think you look super cute in it Martina! Also, if you could find a place that did meemers fabric for Simon’s, I think that would be super cool!

    1 year ago