In Japan, traditionally Kimono and Yukata both are worn for different occasions. They simply look alike to you if you are not that much familiar with Japanese culture but the real scenario says that they are not as same as you think of. Japanese Kimono and Yukata are very famous not only in Japan but also other parts of the world. That’s for what Kimono & Yukata fashion trend is changing day by day.

I have a friend who opens a shop for selling colorful traditional Japanese Yukata & Kimono in Kyoto. Today, I am here to tell you the differences I could see between these two tradtional attires. Take a look at the images I have uploaded here in this post, doing so you will find many differences.

Two Women Wearing Kimono in Kyoto, Japan. Photo credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Meaning of the Words “Kimono & Yukata:” The word Kimono means To Wear a Thing, “Ki” – “To Wear” and “Mono” – “Thing”. It is formal Japanese traditional clothing worn by women and men. Often you can see little girls wear this as hobby while going out for a party. The word Yukata comes from “Yu” – “Bath” and “katabira” – “Under Clothing”. In fact, it is perfect just right after a bath.

A Girl Walks Wearing a Yukata Somewhere Around Tokyo. Photo credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

The Fabrics that is Used for Making Kimono & Yukata

Here, there is a big difference between these two. Traditionally, kimono is made from silk, this is the ideal fabric. Though these days we can get beautiful set of cotton, rayon, sateen, and polyester fabric kimono. While on the other hand, yukata is made out of cotton only. It is lightweight and very comfy especially in the summer season.

Colorful Kimono Girls in Gion District, Kyoto in Japan. Photo credit: Minyoung Choi at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Which One is Easy to Wear?

Wearing a kimono for the first time would be difficult for you if you don’t know how to wear a Kimono properly. Unlike kimono, yukata is very easy to wear and it is versatile. You can learn a simple way to wear it fully here.

Price Tag!

Do you have any idea about the price of a Kimono or Yukata? Which one is cheapest and expensive between these two? As kimono is made from silk, I think you can guess at least a bit that it is costly to buy. Though, in modern time you could find cotton, polyester fabric kimono. Comparing to the silk kimono these are quite less expensive to buy. On the other hand, anyone can get a colorful yukata at a cheap price.

Which one is said to be a formal dress?

Seeing the making materials as well as comparing the price of Kimono and Yukata we could easily assume that kimono is formal clothing. On the other hand, yukata is less formal. In Japanese culture, yukata is seen as a single-layered garment that could be worn at any time of the year. I am pleased to inform you that, a lot of people in Japan go to outside to see summer fireworks wearing colorful yukata.

These Women Wear Beautiful Kimono in Kyoto. Photo credit: Minyoung Choi at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

The Special Occasions

Being formal dress, kimono is usually worn for special occasion and events such as on weeding, funerals and tea ceremonies. There are many seasonal festivals take place in various places all over Japan. I think you have heard of the most popular seasonal festival which is called “Hanami” Matsuri. It is a season for viewing beautiful cherry blossoms in spring.

At this time of year, many tea ceremonies are organized. This is where women serve tea to the guests wearing beautiful kimono. Yukata is a very popular clothe for among teenage girls and adults in the summer Matsuri. Many yukata fairs take place in different locations mostly in Kyoto and Tokyo. Visitors could buy colorful yukata choosing varieties of colors and designs. In fact, if you ever wish to stay in a Japanese ryokan then you will have to wear it. It is mandatory!

The Lining

There is a popular festival in my country which is known as “Coming of age” (Seijin no Hi) ceremony. It is a national holiday for us. On this occasion, I usually see many women wear kimono with furry lining on the neck. In fact, the festival happens on the second Monday of January each year. The weather sounds very crazy and cold at that time.

So, lining is used a protection from freezing cold. On the other hand, I have never seen any women wearing lining with yukata. If you want to go to this festival wearing yukata then I think you will get sick! That single-layered garment can’t protect you from freezing cold weather!

Beautiful Kimono Collar! Photo credit: akaitori at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Collars! Any Idea?

Here, there is another big difference I could reveal to you right now. It is about the collar. Collar is usually worn under the kimono. Well, kimono has at least two collars, while on the other hand yukata only has one collar. Since kimono has more than one collar, additional collar can be worn. Though, it depends on the season and weather.

The Sleeves

Kimono and yukata both have a special feature that is called sleeves. When it comes to kimono, we see the sleeves could be very long or average. It length is more than our thigh. On the other hand, yukata sleeves are short. You will never find a longer sleeves yukata like kimono has unless you make one yourself.

Take a look at the Obi here. Photo credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

What’s Obi?

What’s obi? It refers a belt of a kimono and yukata. The knot of the obi (sash) differentiates these two traditional Japanese clothing in a separate position. There are variety types of obi you could find out. Yukata’s obi comes with a ribbon shape but when you look at the kimono obi you will see the shape is just like a pillow. Nowadays, different style of obi is seen at yukata selling store. It is a new modern fashion trend in Japan, no doubt about that.

A Pair of Geta. Photo credit: Dushan Hanuska at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Footwear and Socks

Footwear is an important accessory when you decide to wear a kimono or yukata. Geta (traditional Japanese shoes) must be worn with kimono clothing. In this case, white socks are used. It is not mandatory wearing a pair of socks with yukata.

Ultimate Designs and Patterns

Yukata usually has bright colorful design and pattern, while kimono has dark color patterns. Traditional yukata comes in dark blue and white but in modern time, Japanese yukata fashion trend has changed. When you go out for a summer festival in Japan you will see many women wear colorful yukata with new shapes and designs featuring fruits, flower, and animal patterns.

I have seen many kimono that background color is dark black but the theme was just great. Some of them were decorated with white cranes and cherry blossoms pattern. In fact, modern wedding kimono is becoming quite popular among young women in Japan. You can find beautiful kimono here.

Modern Wedding Kimono in Japan. Photo credit: santapaws4xmas at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

My Final Words

I hope you have seen some common differences between Yukata and Kimono. There are other differences but the ones I have shared with you are enough for you to understand about these two traditional Japanese garments. Though I better tell you one more difference that is Yukata and Kimono both are worn by female and male though yukata is worn more by female than male.

If you would like to visit Japan in future, make sure you wear Yukata and have a leisurely stroll around the city you would be living in, especially in the evening time! That’s it for today, next time I hope I will bring something interesting and of course that would be about our culture.