Q: What is the kimono-like clothing that I see lots of people wearing when I go to a summer festival?
A:That is called a cotton-weave yukata. Originally, yukatas were used in summertime as bathrobes and pajamas, but today they are frequently worn at summer festivals and fireworks events.
To put on a yukata, fold the left side over the right side, just like a kimono. The opposite way is how a dead body is dressed for its funeral, so pay attention! The hem of a yukata should be a bit shorter than a kimono, coming about to the ankles, and it is usually worn with geta sandals and bare feet. Many women carry a kinchaku or kago-kinchaku (traditional Japanese handbags) instead of their normal purse. Also, long-haired women can put their hair up for a summery look.
Because there are few opportunities to wear a yukata, there are many people these days who don’t know how to put it on or tie up the obi sash themselves. However, there are many videos that show how to do these things, so why not watch those for reference and give it a try? Also, for those who really can’t tie their own obi, you can buy a pre-tied obi. You can also get your yukata put on for you, and your hair and makeup done to match, at a beauty salon.
Yukatas are not a gender- or age-specific clothing, but you will probably see more men and young children wearing jinbei than yukata. A jinbei looks like a Japanese-style shortsleeved shirt over shorts. Although it is a two-piece set, it is still Japanese clothing, so the right-side-first rule still applies for the shirt. A jinbei does not have an obi to tie, so it is easier to put on than a yukata.
The people involved in present ing a summertime event often wear a hip-length Japanese-style jacket called a happi. At Kochi’s major summer event, the Yosakoi Festival, there are many teams that use happi as their uniforms.
This summer, try on some Japanese clothing and enjoy Kochi!