When you are in Japan, you might consider buying a yukata (cotton summer kimono) or, if you have the money for it, an actual kimono. Mind you, real silk hand painted kimono’s are not exactly cheap so bring your creditcard if you are keen on getting one! Still it is one size fits all so compared to western style clothes it is a much better investment, although you might not have that many opportunities to wear them.
How to wear a kimono, step by step
1. In addition to the kimono itself, you must have a juban, a koshi himo belt, a datejime, an obi makura belt, and white tabi socks. As you’re getting dressed, put on the white tabi socks first. It is difficult to bend down after dressing fully in a kimono, so you should get the socks out of the way while you can.
2. Put on a slip called the “juban.” It consists of a white cotton top and skirt, which you can easily substitute with separate pieces if you can’t find an actual juban. Today in Japan, an alternative is to wear only the white collar that goes around the neck called a “cri-sugata.”
3. Put on the kimono, making sure the back seam is centered. For both men and women, you should wrap the right side of the kimono over your body to begin with, then bring the right side of the kimono towards the left side of your body, overlapping it with the left side as you do so. Adjust the white slip collar to show evenly around the neck, just under the kimono collar.
4. After you have put on your kimono, pull the kimono so the it ends at your ankle. The length of the kimono is always adjusted, which is why there are only a few lengths made by the manufacturer.
5. As you hold the extra material about your waist, tie the koshi himo belt below the excess material. Cross the belt in the back and tie it in the front. Straighten out the excess material and bring some down to cover the koshi himo belt.
6. Now take the datejime belt and wrap it around your waist over the koshi himo belt. Tie this belt in the front, leaving the overlapping kimono fabric visible below. The excess kimono fabric should hang out evenly below the belt so that the fabric is seen.
7. Put the obi makura into place and wrap the obi. Tie both ends of the obi together, folding it in across your waist and tightening it at the center. Then slide it to your back, straighten yourself out a bit, and you should be all dressed up in your kimono!
- Tying up your hair into a bun and adding small hair ornaments will add extra flair to the kimono. Geta sandals are another cultural concession you can make if you’d like, but they’re not totally necessary.
- Don’t worry if the kimono is a little long; that’s how it should be!
How to wear a Yukata?
As we wrote in the introduction, a yukata is a cotton summer kimono often times worn during special festivals (omatsuri) like for instance during hanami (pick nick under the cherry blossoms) or hanabi (watching fire works). Often times when you go to one of the more expensive onsen hotels, they give you a yukata as well, which you can wear during your stay in all of the comunal areas. Here we explain how to wear a yukata.
How to wear a Yukata step by step
1. Put the Yukata on. Flip the long sleeves back over your arms, so that they won’t be in your way.
2. While one hand is holding both sides of the fabric together in front of your body, try to locate the center line of the garment (where the fabrics are sewed together)on the back of your body using the other hand. Fix the garment to the center.
3. Open up the garment and pull it up to the ankle level.
4. Bring the left side of the garment to the front and decide thecorrect length and width.
5. Open up the left side while keeping the length and bring the right side to the front. Decide the length. Bottom corner of the right side of the garment should be about 4″ from the ground.
6. Keep the right side garment and bring the left side on top of it. Decide the length. The bottom corner of the left side garment should be about 2″ from the ground.
7. Use Koshi-Himo and tie the garment around the waist. Make sure to tie tightly to avoid the garment getting loose. Tuck the Koshi-Himo in.
8. Find the side pockets, stick both hands, and pull the extra fabric over Koshi-Himo. Make sure to do the front and the back. *This layer around the waist is called Ohashori. Ohashori is supposed to show below the Obi.
9. Fix the shape of Ohashori and tie the second Koshi-Himo right below the bust. This one does not have to be as tight as the first one. Tuck the Koshi-Himo ends in.
10. If you are slim build, you may have extra fabric on the side of the upper body. At the side pockets, pull the back fabric to the front and the pull back the front fabric over it to hide the extra fabric. This will make a clean side look.
11. And now you are done! Make sure to Tie an Obi around the waist for the completeYukata look.
Lessons in wearing a kimono/yukata
If you are still in doubt whether you are wearing your kimono or yukata correctly, you can follow specially designed lessons for learning how to do so by ‘professionals’. Once such a school that teaches kitsuke (kimono dressing) from a certified expert is Shyo Shyo An. Here they provide lessons in English that will make it easy for you to dress yourself and look stunning. A one-off yukata lesson lays down the essentials, while the basic komon and taiko dressing takes three days to master. Longer courses that lead to certification are also available at Shyo Shyo An.
4-3 Miyazaki-cho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama.
Tel: 090 1764 9959