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History of the Yukata

by Ewa Nowogorski

Originally simply worn as bathrobes when going to bathhouses, the usage of yukata has become much broader in today’s modern era, and their beautiful patterns make them a very popular cultural icon of Japan.

Yukata are thin kimono, or Japanese clothing. They are made out of cotton, and commonly worn to spring or summer festivals. Yukata can be worn by both men and women, although designs for men are often much simpler. Yukata for women come in endless designs and colors, and it’s very easy for one to have a very unique piece. Yukata are often worn with sandals.

In the Heian era, court nobles wore linen robes which were draped loosely after taking a bath. The yukata was later also worn by Japanese warriors. By the Edo era, it was widely worn by the public when public bathhouses became popular. People would wear them to the baths, and put them on afterwards because they were so easy to put on and take off compared to other kimono.

Traditionally Japanese yukata were mostly made of indigo dyed cotton but today a wide variety of colors and designs is available. The general rule of choosing your design depends on your age. The younger you are, the brighter colors and more childish print you can wear. Young women generally wear patterns with beautiful pink or blue flowers, and senior women tend to stick to dark indigo and more traditional prints. Yukata, unlike other formal kimono, are very cheap since they are made out of cotton, and they are also easy to put on. You can probably buy a full outfit for less than $50 and learn how to wear this cute piece yourself.

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