An In-depth Comparison Between A Kimono And A Yukata In Traditional Japanese Clothing

Last Updated on March 17, 2022 by

A kimono and a yukata are traditional symbolic clothing in Japanese culture. However, most people think that the two are the same, but they are not. A kimono and a yukata have some noticeable differences. There are surprising events that a person can rock a kimono, for instance, fireworks displays or weddings. However, there are some occasions where you may have trouble using these two. One of the major differences between a kimono and a yukata is the fabric and occasion for wear. Their designs are also different, especially on the collar. If you want to find out more about these differences, follow through.

What Are A Kimono And A Yukata?

What Are A Kimono And A Yukata

The kimono was initially introduced as a Japanese version of traditional Chinese clothing referred to as the hanfu. Kimono dresses are essentially T-shaped garments made of four different pieces. The pieces are joined with elaborate folds and held together at the waist using the obi belt. The kimono is a very popular garment in Japan, and despite having numerous layers, this formal occasion clothing is irrefutably practical. On the other hand, a yukata is a type of aesthetic garment kimono designed for a lighter fabric and is more suitable for daily use.

Sometimes a yukata is referred to as a “yukata kimono” because it almost looks like a kimono and is made of light materials with more versatility and a more suitable style for a much more casual setting. A yukata is often made of a breathable fabric such as cotton and lightweight synthetic materials to ensure the wearer is comfortable during summer. 

A yukata takes its name from the Japanese word for a bathing robe, which is how this piece of clothing initially came to be. This is why from a fashion perspective, yukatas bridge the gap between a summer dress, bathrobe, and kimono.

What Are The Differences Between A Kimono And A Yukata?

Differences Between A Kimono And A Yukata

It is quite easy to recognize the kimono and the yukata when you come across one as they are different garments. However, many people don’t understand the differences between these two. Below are the noticeable differences between these two traditional Japanese clothing.

Season

One of the main differences between the two garments is the season each is worn. Yukatas are typically associated with summer seasons and festivals. Yukatas are also worn in and around Onsen villages in summer but hardly during winter. This is because yukatas are made of cotton, linen, or hemp. These materials are super light and have breathable layers for the summer heat or humidity.

Kimonos have more layers than yukatas and can be worn at any time of the year. You can also accessorize a kimono with additional accessories during winter to keep warm. For instance, you may wrap a fur shawl when it’s cold, which acts as an accessory. During summer or hot seasons, you can wear a summer kimono, also known as the hitoe. The hitoe is single-layered and unlined clothing that keeps you cool when it’s hot.

Material

A kimono garment is commonly made of different variations, including silk, but a yukata garment is made of cotton linen or hemp. The silk material gives a kimono a more luxurious look and feels, whereas the yukata typically has a more casual and relaxed look. 

Nonetheless, nowadays, the kimono and yukata are found in various variations of silk and cotton. Therefore, it will depend on the look you want to go for.

Collar

Kimonos are more formal than yukata, and therefore they have a soft, full-width collar. On the other hand, yukatas only have stiff half-width collars. The collars are indicative of the fabrics the garments are made of.

Additionally, kimonos have at least two collars, one being close to the neck while the other is below the neck, also known as a Cuban collar.

Sleeves 

Another major difference between a kimono and a yukata is the shape and length of the garments’ sleeves. When designing a kimono, many things are considered to determine the length of the sleeves, for instance, the wearer’s age and the event’s formality. 

However, one example is that unmarried women wear wide sleeves reaching down to the floor.

A yukata, however, has modest sleeves that don’t go over 50cm of length. Therefore, the sleeves of a yukata do not touch the ground.

Event and Occasion

Kimonos and yukatas are worn at different events and occasions. You will be able to determine whether it’s a kimono or a yukata depending on the occasion where you spot the garment. A kimono is reserved for formal events, including shrine ceremonies, weddings, anniversaries, Coming of Age celebrations, or graduation ceremonies.

Yukatas are worn during summer, especially in or around ryokan and Onsen villages. The Japanese people wear the yukatas when attending summer matsuri or firework celebrations. They are also perfect for casual strolls.

Obi

Although a kimono and a yukata deserve an obi, how the garment is tied, and its size will help you determine whether the obi is part of a kimono or a yukata. If you are wearing a kimono, you will require at least three or four strings for tying up the clothing. A kimono’s obi may also get a little thick towards the middle of the clothing. Kimono obis are also stiff and flat.

If you wear a yukata, you will only need one or two strings to tie the robe. The yukata obi is not as stiff and wide as a kimono. You will also tie a yukata obi in a more relaxed manner than how you would when tying a kimono. 

Many people are developing a new style of bows; therefore, you may notice some alterations with the obi. For instance, it may be twisted or folded a little at the front, guaranteeing that the garment is a part of a yukata, as this doesn’t typically happen with kimonos.

Design and Color

Kimonos are usually worn during formal occasions. Therefore, they may have grandeur designs and luxurious subtleties. Yukatas are more casual, and therefore people have been experimenting with bright and bold colors to come up with new designs. Yukatas also allow for unusual patterns and various accessories that you cannot wear with a kimono.

Shoes

The other difference between a kimono and a yukata is the type of footwear to wear with both. Yukatas are usually worn alongside Geta (wooden sandals), whereas kimonos are usually worn with Zori (thick sandals) or Tabi (Japanese socks divided at the toes).

Affordability

Silk is a more expensive material than cotton and other fabrics used to make a yukata. Therefore, a kimono will be more expensive than a yukata. The kimono’s designs will also reflect the cost of the fabric. 

Although the kimonos and yukatas are complex, they have become very popular recently. These two Japanese clothing offers plenty of styles and variety. The two types of clothing have succeeded in modernization, especially through the design of accessories they can be dressed with, including the obi. 

Wearing a kimono for the first time can be hard if you are not familiar with how to wear it properly. On the other hand, Yukatas are very easy to wear and versatile.

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