Friday, September 7, 2012


At the festival I wore a yukata, which is a traditional form of Japanese clothing. It’s similar to a kimono, but it is generally made out of cotton (or more modern blends) instead of silks, and it is a much more casual form of clothing. Nowadays it is most often seen at festivals and in traditional Japanese hot spring hotels. When used in a hotel, they are worn casually, and usually just tied around the waist with a sash. When worn to a festival, a much more involved process is used in putting on the yukata, which usually involves waist padding, ties, and an obi. An obi is a belt worn with a kimono or a yukata, they are generally wrapped around the waist a few times, and then tied in some sort of bow.

I bought my yukata in Tokyo, a full set including yukata, obi, ties, and shoes. The shoes are not made for comfort; they are basically chunks of wood with cloth attached to make them into flip flops. They are really hard to walk in. I have very big feet in Japan, I am a size 8 1/2 in the states, which makes me a size LL here in Japan, though usually LL is still too small for me. My shoes were small for me, and my heal hung out over the back of the shoe. Luckily I was told that that was traditional in Japan, and is considered a nice look. My set came with a pre-tied bow to attach to my yukata. Tying an obi is really difficult, and so many yukata come with pre-tied bows.

I was pretty intimidated by the yukata, I watched hours of YouTube videos, preparing myself to put it on right, but in the end my friend did it for me. She has a friend who is a professional kimono maker, and dresses women for their weddings and other special events in kimono. She knew what she was doing. I felt like a doll, being spun around and strapped in.

What I learn for putting on a Yukata.
Akemi Helped Me Dress
1.The left side should be over the right side (the right side is put over the left only on the dead)
2. Padding should put around your waist before anything else, you will not be curvy in a yukata, and it just makes the obi look bad if you try to maintain curves. It is best to tie towels around your waist before you start so that your waist is straight. Curvy girls, this is not the time to show off your assets.
3.  The bottom hem should be even all the way around.
4. The bow goes in the back, if the bow is tied in the front, it signifies you are a whore.
5. Don’t show cleavage. As the night goes on, the part covering your chest will most likely begin to spread, but especially in a yukata, this is considered very tacky.
6. When you wear a yukata you must wear undergarments, not just underwear, you must wear some sort of shirt, and tight pants.

I have attached a video of how to put on a yukata, for anyone interested.

Wearing a yukata-What I learned.
Like any clothing made more than a half century ago, yukatas are very difficult to wear, and can be quite uncomfortable. Maybe someday in the future, when people find it amusing to wear the clothes of this time, people will be saying the same thing about jeans.  There will be a lot around your waist, this means that there will be very little range of motion, and you will have to maintain a very good posture to maintain your obi, and to breathe. The bottom hem line is the circumference of your hips, no more. That’s the amount of space you get to take your steps, and it is not a lot, but don’t worry, if you are wearing the appropriate shoes, they will also make you take tiny steps. You will not get anywhere very quickly. Going to the bathroom will be an IQ test. I have already mentioned my adventures with this, but I am going to take this opportunity to elaborate. Finding your own bum in a yukata is a maze, assuming you want to keep wearing the yukata after toileting. The cloth is folded and draped all around your legs. Under that you should be wearing underwear, and pants or a slip. It’s worse than going to the bathroom while skiing, at least when you are skiing, you just have to get your clothes back on, a yukata needs to look tidy, and have nice hem lines.

Now that I have done a thorough job of listing all the reasons you should not wear a yukata, here’s my recommendation. If you go to Japan, find an opportunity to wear a yukata. People wear them to festivals, special events, and even just for going to tourist destinations. If you are worried that you will look funny as a foreigner, don’t. It will actually help your case. Japanese enjoy it when they see foreigners actively trying to appreciate their culture.

There’s the saying that to understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes. To me, that’s the point of wearing historic clothing, or traditional garments of different cultures. Wearing a yukata was so much more then dressing up. I got to enjoy the process of being dressed, which meant connecting with the women who appreciated this aspect of her own culture. People around town saw me, and were happy to see me so actively participating in being Japanese. I got to be part of so much more of Japan, because I wore the yukata. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi you two!
    Happy One Month Wedding Anniversary.
    Love, Mom.


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