Kimonos are exquisite, traditional clothing garments that iconically represent Japanese style and culture. Kimonos are stunning garments that many have admired from civilizations of all kinds for centuries, dating back from the late 700s until now with today’s contemporary, modern take on the long-beloved clothing piece.
Kimonos are even Japan’s national dress. Although yukatas share many similarities with kimonos and are also beautiful Japanese traditional garments many around the globe adore, they also share distinct differences that make them notably different from a kimono. Here, we will explore what both a kimono and a yukata are. We will also discuss the critical differences between the two and why these differences are significant.
What Is a Kimono?
A kimono refers to a traditional Japanese garment. Typically, it is a long wrap-around dress that reaches down to your heels, has characteristically billowing, long sleeves, a V-neckline, and is unisex. Kimonos conventionally have an obi, a wide sash that secures the wrap-around garment. The obi is a belt intricately tied at the kimono’s waist. The obi can sometimes be 12 feet or longer, another uniquely defining characteristic of kimonos. The material of kimonos is customarily silk, as well. The wrap-around style and fashion of kimonos allow for easy, effortless movement. Since many Japanese cultural activities involve sitting on the floor, this attribute is incredibly beneficial and valuable. They are also particularly ideal for Japan’s climate. Many people will wear a kimono that does not have lining during hot, humid, sticky summer months and then can switch to a kimono with multi-lining for the cooler winter months.
Generally, people wear different types of kimonos depending on what they are doing and the event or occasion that they are wearing the kimono when they do so, as kimonos come in an assortment of different designs, styles, and patterns. By this, the kimono a person will wear for everyday use is usually more straightforward than the kimono a person will typically wear for more formal situations. Throughout Japanese history, kimonos have also been indicative of several significant aspects of a person, such as a sign of their social status, class, wealth, marital status, gender, individual style, an expression of their identity, and more. For example, a woman not yet married attending a formal event would wear a furisode, a specific type of kimono with long, swinging sleeves. A furisode is made explicitly for single adult women in Japanese culture to wear as it signals their availability for marriage.
Various other essential factors signify other aspects of a kimono and the person wearing it. Specifically, this can include the color, particular motifs or images, the fabric and material it consists of, and the accessories you choose to wear. Accessories include the obi you pick to wear with it, what you put in your hair, and how you do it in the first place, among many others.
What Is a Yukata?
The term yukata refers to a specific type of kimono. It is a traditional Japanese garment that women often wear only in the summer months. A yukata traditionally has no lining and usually consists of breathable cotton or polyester fabric and material. Many wear it to casual events and occasions and in more casual environments, such as at a summer festival or a nearby bathhouse. Initially, yukatas were a kimono that served as bathrobes intended to be worn by people during the warmer summer months. However, it is very popular with people in Japanese culture today, and you can see many wearing it during the hot summer months as part of their everyday, casual outfits.
What Are the Key Differences Between Kimonos and Yukatas?
- The material that makes up kimonos are often drastically different from that of a yukata. Generally, a kimono is a silk material. In contrast, a yukata is either cotton or polyester fabric, as these kinds of cloth allow more air and are more breathable, making it ideal for summer.
- In correspondence with the material of a kimono generally being silk rather than polyester or cotton, this also makes kimonos much more formal and typically more expensive than yukatas, as the kimono material is more costly and luxurious for the most part.
- In line with the different kinds of materials that a kimono has in contrast to that of a yukata, you often see people wearing kimonos during winter and fall. A kimono traditionally consists of thicker and more costly materials, like an outer layer of thick silk, which is ideal for colder weather. On the other hand, you can see people only wearing a yukata usually in the summer months, as the material and fabric of each are specifically to provide more comfort during such times of the year for those wearing the garment.
- Another significant difference between a kimono and a yukata is that, unlike a kimono, a yukata has no interior lining and often consists of just one piece or layer of fabric sewn. Since the yukata has no interior lining or layering, you can wear it directly on your skin and use an obi to tie it securely.