Since I was young, I grew up watching anime. No, I’m not an otaku but I love the stories and the clothing especially kimono. Before I came to Japan, I always considered any Japanese traditional clothing as kimono. But I found out that there are differences, what are they? Well, kimono is for the cold season, on the other hand during summer people wear yukata.
Now, what is the difference of yukata from kimono? Well, kimono is like a casual clothing, but since it’s full of layers, wearing it during the summer season would really be uncomfortable. So there is yukata, its cloth and design is more colorful than kimono, it symbolizes summer, the texture is lighter than kimonos. But the beauty of yukata is not far from kimono.
I had the opportunity to wear a yukata for Toukasan(fox God) festival in Hiroshima which is celebrated every first Friday of June for 3 days. It has been celebrated for over 380 years, where there are dancing, singing, selling of traditional festival snacks and it’s actually my first festival in Japan. Believe me, I was so excited not only because I would experience the festival itself but because I will wear a yukata. Before the festival Aeon, Uniqlo, Donquiote,and other shops around Hiroshima got their yukata designs out but the prices are really high. So with research we found this small shop at Funairi-cho that sells second-hand yukata and kimono. But I got a great deal, for 6,000yen I got a set of yukata with slippers and accessories. Being a foreigner, I had no idea on how to wear a yukata, luckily the shop offered to dress me up on the second day of the festival at their booth in Hondori (where the festival is being held) for free.
Saturday I went to my appointment for wearing my yukata, guess what? It took me 30 minutes to get fully dressed with the help of the Japanese attendant, it was so complicated that if you would ask me to wear it on my own, I would never be able to do it. After getting dressed for 30 minutes, I also had my hair done for 1,000yen. And after I finished, I was really happy with the result, I could say I looked like a Japanese.
At 7pm roads were closed at Hondori and the party began, there are games like shooting,darts,catching fishes with tissue paper thin like nets,fishing for shrimps,horror house for children, and also people dancing traditional dances for good harvest, and women wearing yukata all over the place. I felt like I was transported to Edo era, where festivals were a little similar. Foods from the festival were a little pricey like one BBQ stick would cost 500 yen, but it’s worth it because it’s a once in a year celebration. Of course, I visited Toukasan shrine, where I got a small fan which symbolizes the God. And I also copied the Japanese girls by going to picura booths to have my picture taken, and it was so cute. And I got a free matcha ice cream from Nana matcha cafe just because I’m wearing a yukata.
I really admire on how japan did their best to preserve this kind of festival, and letting everyone, young and old to experience wearing traditional summer clothing.
Where Japanese women can show the beauty of tradition thru their clothing. And I was very lucky to experience such art, culture and tradition in one day. For the foreigners who are in Japan and who are planning to visit, try these festivals and do what the Japanese do. It was an eye-opener for me and made me respect Japan even more.