Be a Japanese by wearing beautiful Kimono nicely

More and more travelers to Japan wear Kimono or Yukata, wandering at famous tourist destinations in Japan. However, there seem many who don’t know the difference between the two and don’t wear them in a right way or at a right occasion.

Kimono is a traditional Japanese clothing which used to be everyday clothing for the Japanese and it’s been mainly worn on ceremonial occasions such as wedding, commencement and coming-of-age ceremonies as well as funerals and memorial services.  Nowadays, there seem a fashion among Japanese ladies wearing colorful Kimono at ordinary situations, too, which I welcome very much. Yukata is a more casual clothing which was originally a both robe to wipe off sweat after taking a bath and nowadays it’s often worn especially by young couples at such occasions as going to summer festivals at temples and shrines or fireworks displays in the summer evening. 

<Bride and bridegroom at a Shinto shrine>

When you visit a Shinto shrine, you may be able to see people wearing Kimono for their wedding ceremony there. The bride (right on the photo above) wears a pure white Kimono or “Shiro-muku”, representing her willingness to create a new happy life (not colored yet) with her husband. The bridegroom (left) wears a ceremonial Kimono, “Montsuki Haori Hakama” which consists of a black overcoat with his family crest dyed in white (Montsuki Haori) and long loose-legged pleated trousers (Hakama) over a black Kimono inside. At their wedding reception and party, the bride often puts a colorful bridal robe “Uchi-kake” like the photo below.

<Bride in a colorful “Uchi-kake” moving to the wedding reception>

Nowadays there seem more and more women who enjoy wearing colorful Kimono at everyday occasions. Kimono is worn by folding the T-shaped robe and wrapping a belt or sash, called “Obi”, there are several rather complicated steps to go through. There are schools where young Japanese people learn how to wear Kimono! To be frank with you, it is not a practical clothing if you want to walk fast or wander in a long distance. But people wearing Kimono today appear enjoying a sort of the refined elegance by walking slow and elegantly in the traditional Japanese clothing. For visitors to Japan, there are many Kimono rental shops where the staff help you put on Kimono. In fact, it takes you a considerable time to master how to put on Kimono so let the staff do the job for you!

<People wearing colorful Kimono>

How about Yukata? Yukata is a single-layered clothing. Because of its origin being a bathrobe, Yukata is usually made in cotton, very casual and easy to wear. When you stay at a traditional Japanese inn or Ryokan, Yukata will be provided for your free use during your stay. You may want to stroke around the Ryokan wearing Yukata. In tourist destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto, you can also rent a Yukata at Kimono rental shop when it’s summer.

Here are some tips for you to wear Kimono and Yukata nicely.

  • Please keep wearing your underwear only.
  • Please put your arms through the sleeves, bring the right side over your body and then put the left side over the right side.
  • Please make sure that hemlines of the both sides of the clothing are even, then wrap a belt or Obi around the waist (women) or the hipbone (men)
  • Please make sure that the collar opening in the front is not too loose.
  • Please make sure that lower part of the clothing is not too open when walking and sitting.

Let’s remember that there is a taboo in wearing Kimono or Yukata:

  • Please do not wear Kimono or Yukata by putting the right side over the left side. It is the way to have the deceased wear the clothing at a funeral.

In the mid of December last year, I saw some inbound tourists wearing Yukata (not Kimono) in Asakusa, Tokyo. I think you’ve already noticed that it was Not a right timing to wear Yukata at all! If they had been cheated by an disingenuous Kimono rental shop into renting a Yukata in winter, it should have been a great shame. But if you remember the difference, the tips to wear and the taboo, you can surely be a happy tourist to Japan wearing the Japanese clothing very nicely! 

<Ladies wearing a casual Yukata in a hot summer>

By Jin Shibata 

Jin Shibata

I treasure every meeting, for it will never recur