Japanese Patterns of Design

Yukata: Japanese Traditional Casual Dress for Summer

A woman in Yukata holding an umbrella and a purse
A woman in Yukata holding an umbrella and a purse (s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com)

Overview of Yukata

Japanese Traditional Casual Dress designs
Japanese Traditional Casual Dress Designs (google.com)

Yukata is a traditional dress designed to spend comfortably in the hot humid summer in Japan.

For example, navy and white color combination are popular colors you see on traditional ones since indigo works as insect deterrent and white color provides a sensation of coolness.

In traditional Japanese clothing, it has the most simple and basic design.

Nowadays, people put on them after a bath as a loungewear in summer, as pajamas, or as a training wear when one practice classical Japanese dance let alone in the events of fireworks or festivals.

Also, it is very common that Japanese traditional hot spring inns provide them as a loungewear in each room.

Tokyo Destinations: 3 Hot Springs

Female Yukata

A woman's back in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with pink Obi ribbon
A woman’s back in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with pink Obi ribbon (google.com)

Female Yukata comes with a lot of varieties in style and design patterns.

You can enjoy them with a traditional style matching with a folding fan, a purse, and pairs of Geta (Japanese wooden clogs).

Japanese Traditional Casual Clothing in Summer
Japanese Traditional Casual Clothing in Summer (elle.com)
A woman in Japanese Traditional Casual Dresson a train, model Hana Matsushima, Oggi
A woman in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress on a train, model Hana Matsushima, Oggi (aurorae.tumblr.com)

Retro-Modern Yukata

Retro Modern Yukata with clown motifs in navy color
Retro-Modern Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with clown motifs in navy color (furifu.com)

There is a category called “Retro-Modern Yukata”, which features vivid colors and bold designs.

Usually, their origin can date back to the Taisho period (1912-1926), also, numerous varieties of them are being invented today.

You can pair them with the western style of bags, shoes, and hats, it can make a unique and sophisticated style when it’s successfully mixed.

Retro Modern Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with large yellow flower motifs in white color
Retro Modern Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with large yellow flower motifs in white color (s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com)

Male Yukata

A Man in Charcoal Gray Japanese Traditional Casual Dress holding a fan and a purse
A Man in Charcoal Gray Japanese Traditional Casual Dress holding a fan and a purse (mensfashion-syosinsya.com)

Usually, when a man put on them, they can go with either Geta or Setta (Japanese leather-soled sandals).

A man in charcoal gray Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with glasses in front of the brick wall
A man in charcoal gray Japanese Traditional Casual Dress with glasses in front of the brick wall (www.otokokimonokato.com)

Pair with glasses…

A man in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress holding a folding fan and a purse
A man in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress holding a folding fan and a purse (Pinterest)

With a folding fan…

A man in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress matching with white sneakers and a long t-shirt
A man in Japanese Traditional Casual Dress matching with white sneakers and a long t-shirt (Pinterest)

You can even pair with a pair of sneakers, a hat or a coat. As long as it looks cool and chic, you can experiment various styles to find your own.

How to Wear Yukata

Traditionally, Unlike Kimono, the formal Japanese traditional dress, you don’t put any underwear (Nagajuban, kimono-like garment made of light fabric supposed to be worn under Kimono) when you put on them.

However, if your Yukata is made of materials such as hemp which tend to be see-through or you feel uncomfortable putting nothing under it, you can put on an underwear.

Also, there are variations of them which look more like formal ones, then you want to put underwear and layer the collars.

Brief History of Yukata

Ryogoku yu-suzumi (Enjoying the Evening Cool at Ryogoku Bridge)
Ryogoku yu-suzumi (Enjoying the Evening Cool at Ryogoku Bridge) (www.theartofjapan.com)

Yukata has its origin in “Yukatabira”, which court nobles put on when they used the steam bath not to get burned in the Heian period (794-1185). It breathes and absorbed the sweat well, people began to wear them as pajamas.

The term “Yukata” means a bathing clothing.

In the Edo period, as the public bathhouses (Sento) got popular, people wore them not only inside the building but began to go out in them.

Sento: 7 Public Bath Houses in Tokyo for Authentic Experience

Kabuki actors contributed a lot in developing its culture as townspeople followed the designs and patterns of popular actors’ Yukata.

It became really popular going to the festival or seeing fireworks in them in this period. Thanks to the Tempo Reform, silk was banned for citizens so they started developing them with cotton vigorously.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), people began to wear them as everyday clothes in summer. It’s because of the invention of dying which made them possible to produce in large-scale production instead of the hand dyeing.

Where You Can Enjoy Yukata

Fireworks festival at Sumida river in Tokyo
Fireworks festival at Sumida river in Tokyo (tabit.jp)

Since it is an informal dress, you can enjoy them all you want inside your home. You can’t put them on to go to the formal occasion, however, there are events you can enjoy Yukata.

Essentially, you can go to events which are held outdoor in Yukata. Fireworks and the Bon Odori festivals are the best bets.

Bon Odori Festival: Japanese Buddhist Custom in Summer/

So keep in mind that Yukata once was a loungewear, in which you wouldn’t go outside and walk moreover to the stores. Other than going to fireworks, Bon Odori festivals or festivals of Shinto shrines, it’s safe to enjoy them at home for lounging.

Yet, merely walking on the riverside in them with your friends or partner would make a lovely memory of the summer!

Yukata For Sale

If you’d like to check Women’s Yukata, you can go YUKATA SIENNE
and retro-modern yukata can be found at FURIFU.

You can buy stylish male Yukata at Y. & SONS and JIGGYS SHOP.

(All of them only in Japanese)

Reference

和の服装文化 浴衣の歴史 (日本ゆかた文化協会)

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