The Kimono and Yukata
Kimono is a traditional Japanese clothing. Yukata is a type of kimono. Kimono is worn in the winter. Yukata is worn in the summer.
The difference between kimono and yukata are a) seasons (kimono : winter, yukata : summer), b) sleeves (kimono=long sleeves, yukata : short sleeves), c) thickness of the fabric (kimono: thick fabric, Yukata : thin fabric). There are many other differences between kimono and yukata. Please carefully read the table below.
|Differences between kimono and yukata||Kimono||Yukata|
|How is the fabric?||thick||thin|
|When do people wear it?||fall & winter||
spring season and summer
|In which occasion?||wedding ceremony, tea ceremony, coming-of-age ceremony||
firework festival, summer festival
|How is the motif?||Simple design, pastel colors, very little design above the sash||
Very colorful, many colors
|How long does it take to wear it?||Up to 20 minutes||2-3 minutes|
|What is it made of?||Silk||Cotton|
|How much does it cost?||$500 or more||$50 or more|
|What is the length of the sleeve?||Long||Short|
|What are the different types?||Uchikake, furisode, hakama, homongi, tomesode, hiromuku||—|
|Can everyone wear it?||Only single women can wear furisode||—|
|Are there inner layers?||Yes (nagajuban)||No|
|How are the sandals and accessories?||Elegant (zori)||Casual (geta)|
Learn more about kimono and yukata experience at Maikoya
Definition of Kimono:
Kimono was once the Japanese word for clothing but nowadays refers to the traditional clothing from Ancient Japan. The long robes that ladies wear are the most recognised of Japanese clothing, but the word kimono is also used to refer to the stylish robes and trousers worn by men as well.
Kimonos were established during the Heian period of Japanese history (794-1192 AD). The robes became increasingly intricate as more layers were used. Many kimono designs were also developed to represent different seasons, holidays or the class of society you belonged to. While the silk kimonos worn by ladies are more recognisable, they can also be made out of other materials such as cotton, linen or satin. During the early nineteenth century, the Japanese government encouraged people to adopt more Western clothing and habits. As a result, kimonos are now generally kept as more ceremonial clothing and are worn most often on special occasions.
Datejime: Belt that sits underneath the obi belt and ensures a perfect kimono silhouette
Geta: Traditional Japanese shoes without a heel
Hanhaba: Obi sash that is matched with everyday kimonos
Juban: White cotton slip that fits underneath the kimono
Koshi himo: Cotton belt that holds the kimono in place
Obi: Decorative silk sash
Zori: Traditional Japanese shoes that have a heel
The Process of Putting on a Lady’s Kimono:
Remember that most kimonos need another helper to put on properly.
1. Put on a slip called the juban. It fits like a bathrobe and should be tied snugly at the side.
2. Put your arms through the silk outer kimono robe. Make sure the back panel of the robe is centred.
3. Wrap the right side of the robe first around your body to the left. If there is excess material, it is okay that the robe reaches around to your back. Wrap the left side so it overlaps. Adjust the juban slip if showing.
4. To keep the kimono in place, the first belt is tied. This is called the koshi himo. Hold the belt behind you first and tie it across your front. The kimono robe should now be adjusted so that the koshi himo belt is hidden under the excess material in the front.
5. Now the second belt is tied. This is called the datejime. Tie this belt like the koshi himo, but this belt sits on top of the kimono and is visible.
6. The final decorative obi or sash should now be tied. A simpler obi sash is the hanhaba. To tie this sash, first measure the sash at one end so that you can tie a knot with enough material. Leave this material loose for the obi tying. Hold the rest of the belt to your back and wrap it around until two ends are now in the centre of the back.
7. Tie the two obi hanhaba ends together and tighten the sash. It will need to be quite tight for the next step. The obi ends should now be tucked into the obi or datejime. If the obi is tight enough, the sash will not fall out. Make final adjustments to the kimono robe so all the panels are level and centred.
8. Now it is time to accessorise! A kimono should be worn with a pair of sandals, either the geta or zori style. Many Japanese women wear their hair in a bun with flower hair accessories. Remember you can also buy a beautiful fan or handbag that matches your silk kimono!
Similar to the kimono, the yukata is a more informal style of Japanese clothing and is usually made out of cotton. It originates with the popularity of visiting social bathhouses. White and indigo yukatas became common as the white cotton kept people cool in summer, while the dye in the indigo fabric acted as an insect repellent. People in Japan usually wear a yukata during summer at fireworks festivals and other outdoor events. They are very popular with women and children as they are easy to wear.
The Process of Putting on a Yukata:
1. Put your arms through the yukata robe. Make sure the back panel of the robe is centred.
2. Wrap the right side of the robe first around your body to the left. If there is excess material, it is okay that the robe reaches around to your back. Wrap the left side so it overlaps.
3. To keep the yukata in place, a koshi himo belt is tied. Hold the belt behind you first and tie it across your front. The kimono robe should now be adjusted so that the koshi himo belt is hidden under the excess material in the front.
Fun Facts about Traditional Japanese Clothing:
1. Due to Japanese woodblock prints, the kimono has become linked with the beauty and splendour of the geisha. As most women do not wear kimonos in everyday life, modern geishas and their trainees wear traditional garments more often, in order to promote their individual talents. During the spring, you may see geishas or trainees walking around tourist destinations like Kyoto in their beautiful robes.
2. A Japanese man or woman might need to wear a kimono for very special occasions. There are kimono renting services as they may only wear a kimono once or twice in their lives. One of the speciality robes for a specific occasion is a bride’s wedding kimono. The lady’s outer silk robe is traditionally either white, black or red and has intricate designs. Brides might also wear a matching hood called a wataboshi, which is considered the Japanese version of a bridal veil. The groom’s silk robe would be black with a white sash. Another ceremony is a funeral were the men and women wear black kimono robes with black ties. New Years is a popular holiday for people to wear robes annually if they are lucky enough to have one.
3. In January every year, adults celebrate their coming of age once they have reached twenty years old. Most women wear their best kimono, often with a fur boa. The adults attend a ceremony in their hometown that would announce them as an official adult. Afterwards, everyone celebrates with their families, as well as old friends from primary school.
4. One important event that children wear kimonos for is the Shichi-Go-San celebrations, also known as the Seven – Five – Three celebrations. This is when Japanese boys and girls celebrate being seven, five or three years old on the festival day of November 15th. This day is special as it allows the friends and family of the children to share their growth and well-being.
5. There is also another type of traditional Japanese robe. These are short robes called happi coats. They usually displayed a family crest or holiday symbol. In ancient Japan, they were worn at festivals but recently Japanese restaurants have them as employee uniforms with the business logo displayed on the back.
6. The reason why a ceremonial kimono is so special is due to the material. Many of these kimono layers are made out of high-quality silk – which costs nearly a million yen or close to $9000 US dollars. It is also very difficult to put on as a woman would struggle to put on an expensive kimono robe by herself. This is due to the many layers underneath as well as the tricky obi tie. Women usually have to ask their mothers to help, as well as take a course at a kimono school.
7. The largest collection of kimonos and accessories was collected by Fukiko Higuchi. She had over 3,040 pieces that took over thirteen years to collect. She had to keep them in special chests and racks to ensure the fabric, embroidery and details would not be damaged. After Fukiko turned 67, she gave permission for her kimonos to be displayed at a range of venues around Japan.
8. The largest kimono is over 18 meters wide (60.24 feet) and over 16 meters high (53.64 feet). This outfit was designed by Eiko Kobayashi for a robot called “Gundam”. The kimono was so large that it needed a laser to measure it once a crane had raised it into the air. It took 15 workers one year to finish this outfit.
9. In the Heian period (794- 1192 AD), it was typical for noble women in the Japanese imperial court to wear 20 to 25 layers of kimonos at any one time. This restricted their movement so much that walking was virtually impossible.
10. The Japanese government considers a handful of kimono artists to be national treasures. These artists preserve traditional techniques for making and decorating kimonos. Their robes are made to be one-of-a-kind and are more expensive than most paintings. Some have been sold for over $100,000 US dollars.