If you have been to any of this summer’s fireworks festivals around Nagoya and Aichi you may have noticed many people wearing traditional Japanese dress and wondered what was going on. Well, summer festivals are a time when Japanese and foreigners alike can wear yukata, a summer and informal variant of the famous kimono.
The word ‘yukata’ means ‘after bathing’, as they are the clothing that is often worn after onsen or sento in traditional Japanese ‘ryokan’ hotels. However, in the hot summer months these unlined kimonos are worn by men, women, and children particularly when celebrating hanabi.
Yukata are usually made of either cotton or synthetic fabric, being cooler than the silk of traditional kimonos, and are made up of three main aspects: a ‘juban’ cotton undergarment, the yukata itself, and an ‘obi’ belt that ties it together. On the feet wooden sandals called ‘geta’ are worn and to carry personal goods including cell phones, both men and women carry small bags called ‘kinchaku’.
There are many places in Nagoya in which you can buy yukata.
The large upmarket department store in Sakae is perhaps the place to buy the latest trends of fashionable yukata and every summer.
If Matsuzakaya is a bit out of your budget, also in Sakae (as well as all over the city) you can find yukatas in discount clothing store UNI QLO that are a little easier on the pocket. You can even buy full yukata sets including obi and kinchaku. However, when the store’s range changes from summer to autumn in late July/early August yukatas are one of the first things to go. Get in there quickly.
The shopping arcade in Osu is potentially your best bet for finding yukata to suit you at a good price thanks to the abundance of stores. These small shops tend to be family run with two or three generations manning the till. A store called Mitsuya stocks yukata for tall and large men, and Suehiroya has a good range in vintage goods. Surprisingly many of these stores have English speaking staff.
The most popular of the Osu stores is probably Kimono Komehyo. With two stories, low prices, loyalty cards and intermittant sales promotions. They stock everything for your yukata and kimono needs including vintage and new products.
If you are unable to get to the shops to buy your summer yukata, these online stores have extensive ranges.
Follow these simple guides for putting on your summer yukata.