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Kimono-clad foreigners get a taste of old Tokyo

32 Comments
By Photos and text by KEN ARAGAKI

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Kimono and Yukata are two different articles of clothing.

Kimono are the older, more traditional, and more expensive garment. They’re usually made of silk or brocade, have an inner layer and an outer layer, and are worn with at least two collars. Both men and women wear kimono. They can be worn year-round and have different seasonal styles – unlined in summer, lined in autumn and spring, and padded in winter. There are also different types of kimono depending on the occasion as well as the wearer’s social status.

Yukata are the more casual and inexpensive garment. They’re typically made of cotton and are meant for wearing in the summer. Yukata are mostly worn by women; however, it’s becoming more popular for young men to also wear them during the summer. Because yukata are less formal, people often experiment with colors, patterns, and accessories.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Caucasian girls really need to avoid wearing kimono and yukata.

-23 ( +5 / -28 )

Caucasian girls really need to avoid wearing kimono and yukata.

Why? Some of them look hot when they do.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Someone should send this article to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts which recently withdrew the opportunity for attendees to dress in a kimono and pose with a painting after strong protests.

See details of the story here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2015/07/07/mfa-backs-down-over-kimono-event-response-protests/lv9NHcnpW0lsRE77d9hvkI/story.html

Someone forgot to tell the good folks in Japan that dressing non-Japanese in kimono/yukata is cultural appropriation and not appropriate.

A few lessons in how to walk and stand properly in a kimono/yukata might also be helpful. That shot of the wide-legged photographer is hilarious. But the combination of the kimono/yukata and headscarf is surprisingly elegant. Who knew?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kimono and Yukata are two different articles of clothing.

Not really. My dictionary defines 着物 as 身につけて着るもの。衣服。特に、洋服に対し、和服 (something worn on the body: clothing. In particular, as opposed to Western attire, Japanese clothes.)

A yukata is a kind of kimono (a casual summer kimono, as the article says), but not all kimono are yukata.

Just like a furisode is a kind of kimono, but not all kimono are furisode. Same goes for tomesode, uchikake, homongi. All kinds of kimono.

When I was single I dabbled in the tea ceremony, and fellow dabblers and the sensei would find any excuse to dress me up in a kimono, usually the most elaborate one they could find. I find the Japanese lack of hang-ups regarding 'cultural appropriation' quite refreshing. The ladies in the pics look good, and they're enjoying themselves. The wet blankets protesting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts were plonkers.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Interesting Cleo, I was wondering about that.

Kimono is made up of 着 (wear) and 物 (thing), so I was thinking it just meant clothing, though of course when the word came around they probably didn't know any clothes other than Japanese clothes - hence the reference to Japanese kimonos.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Caucasian girls really need to avoid wearing kimono and yukata.

Why? Should Asian girls also stop wearing dresses and jeans, and stick to their traditional clothing? I think this is a nice example of a cultural exchange. The ladies look fantastic, and they are having fun in Japan - great for tourism!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Why? Should Asian girls also stop wearing dresses and jeans, and stick to their traditional clothing?

Certainly not! Japanese girls look great in almost any clothing!

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

When I was single I dabbled in the tea ceremony, and fellow dabblers and the sensei would find any excuse to dress me up in a kimono, usually the most elaborate one they could find.

Kimono is the international dress uniform of tea ceremony, irrespective of nationality.

(Good to see you're keeping well, Cleo - hope the family are all well, too. I used to post here under the name of Zaichik (I think - or possibly Zaika) in my Niigata days, before I moved to NZ and got a job that kept me too busy to read JT articles!)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I remember my first kimono, bought it at a second hand shop. In great condition, I still wear it proudly despite the condescending remarks from the locals and I love it!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Caucasian girls really need to avoid wearing kimono and yukata. Certainly not! Japanese girls look great in almost any clothing! Such dumb comments

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hi there Zaichik! Good to see you back.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not really. My dictionary defines 着物 as 身につけて着るもの。衣服。特に、洋服に対し、和服 (something worn on the body: clothing. In particular, as opposed to Western attire, Japanese clothes.)

Fine then try wearing a yukata in wintertime to a formal wedding and see how people look at you.

A kimono is a multi-layered type of clothing with strict standards, a yukata is typically a single layer with almost no standards other than how it is closed, which is the same as a kimono.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The yukata looks fairly good on Polina Algezina.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fine then try wearing a yukata in wintertime to a formal wedding and see how people look at you.

What does that have to do with the definition of a kimono?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What does that have to do with the definition of a kimono?

A yukata is a summer garment, a kimono is a year round garment, and the wearing of both have different "rules" and are not the same.

My point is calling a yukata a kimono is like calling a pair of shorts a kimono, which to some, who will anally argue, is the same thing, as in kiru-mono, (ki-mono) or something to wear. The argument is that any and all clothing could "technically" be called a "kimono" and at ONE time that may have been true, but NOW, in this day and time, a kimono and yukata are two totally different types of apparel and should not be referred to as being one and the same.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I am inspired but the volunteers, nothing but admiration and praise, hugs to them x

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did you not read the definition Cleo provided Yubaru?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did you not read the definition Cleo provided Yubaru?

Yes I did, however that definition is for Japanese, or should I say people who understand and speak Japanese.

A kimono to someone who is not familiar with Japanese, like the people wearing the yukata, there is a distinct difference between the two articles of clothing and seeing as how this IS an English page, catering to those who do not (generally speaking) speak or know Japanese (language, possibly culture etc) clarifying the differences is prudent.

A kimono to the typical (in general here) westerner, IS in fact the multi-layered formal garment and not a yukata.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So you're saying it's reverse waseigo? Ehonglish?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So you're saying it's reverse waseigo? Ehonglish?

I never thought of it that way, but perhaps yes that could be or should be that way to say it.

When people hear, or read, the word "kimono" the first and prominent image that comes to mind, is the traditional Japanese clothing, and not a yukata.

Even among Japanese, they differentiate between kimono and yukata and do not refer to both as being one and the same, there is an explicit understanding about the differences and time of year, or occasion, when one or the other is worn.

As an example, if you asked a young woman if she is going to wear a "kimono" to the local summer festival, she will more than likely tell you "no" she is wearing a yukata. In the same breath if you asked her if she is going to wear a yukata to her coming of age ceremony in January she may very well look at you askance and tell you "no" she is wearing her kimono. They are not one and the same.

No matter what a "dictionary" definition may be.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

As an example, if you asked a young woman if she is going to wear a "kimono" to the local summer festival, she will more than likely tell you "no" she is wearing a yukata. In the same breath if you asked her if she is going to wear a yukata to her coming of age ceremony in January she may very well look at you askance and tell you "no" she is wearing her kimono.

Try asking if a Yukata is a type of kimono. I think the answer will surprise you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

however that definition is for Japanese

Well who would expect a Japanese person to understand what a kimono is....? those who do not (generally speaking) speak or know Japanese (language, possibly culture etc) are obviously much better informed. :-)

Now excuse me a moment while I bang my head against this brick wall.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Please explain why.

I have been to literally dozens & dozens of these summer festivals across 4 prefectures in my time. I've yet to see a japanese woman in her yukata or kimono and wearing the headscarf.

So, naturally, it just doesn't look right. How would it look if I showed up to one of these Bon Fests in my jinbei & wearing my (cinco de mayo) Sombrero?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Now excuse me a moment while I bang my head against this brick wall.

Feel free, it's how I feel describing the differences.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Geezus, reading these posts reminds me of my math prof debating the difference between a ball and a sphere...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Male or female...We gaijin just look ridiculous wearing traditional Japanese wear. I feel embarrassed when I see tall skinny gaij thinking they look the balls and showing off to folk who neither care or appreciate the intended gesture.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Male or female...We gaijin just look ridiculous wearing traditional Japanese wear. I feel embarrassed when I see tall skinny gaij thinking they look the balls and showing off to folk who neither care or appreciate the intended gesture.

Gaijin hatred of gaijin. A staple of JT.

Personally, I love wearing a jinbei in the hot summer. No better clothing to keep cool in the humidity. Anyone who thinks I'm wearing it for them is kidding themselves. Anyone who thinks I'm going to stop wearing it for them is kidding themselves even more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gaijin hatred of gaijin. A staple of JT. Don't know where you get this from??? A bit strong isn't it? I don't know how you conduct yourself but I suspect you may live here and know the rules of acceptable behaviour, but...I can tell you that living in Hiratsuka as I do, during the tanabata festival I see these "look at me" types and just wish they would go home as they give us who actually live here even more of a bad rep.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

during the tanabata festival I see these "look at me" types and just wish they would go home as they give us who actually live here even more of a bad rep.

1) How do you know they are thinking 'look at me' and aren't just enjoying new experiences in Japan for their own enjoyment?

2) How do you know the don't live in Japan?

3) The certainly aren't giving foreigners a bad name in the Japanese eyes - Japanese people love dressing up foreigners in kimono/yukata etc. So your conclusion that they give foreigners a bad name is in your eyes - and fits right in with my claim of gaijin hating gaijin.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow, unbelievable how petty people are about these things. If you want to wear Japanese clothing wherever your origins, go for it. A jinbei's really practical in hot weather.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wearing a kimono or yukata if you live in Japan is fine whatever your origins. As long as you respect it and don't act like it's a costume, it's fine! You will get a few funny looks if you go all out with the clogs and everything for no reason, though. I suggest getting fitted and just wearing it to a festival, plus it's a great memory memento when you move away. A lot of natives are interested in foreigners wearing yukatas. My Japanese friend told me most people really don't care. It's not that important really. My highschool has a Kimono photobooth- and they let you rent out kimonos! It's really just a chance to immerse yourself into the culture. If you respect it and treat it correctly, do what you want! :D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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