31 Things You Should Know About Japanese Yukata

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Tsubaki Kimono

by David McElhinney & Lucy Dayman

The yukata is Japan’s most versatile garment: adaptable, comfortable and stylish. It’s also easy to wear and is flattering on all body shapes. If you’ve ever wanted to know how, when, why and where you can wear yukata, or how to properly take care of your yukata, then settle down with our ultimate guide to everything you need to know about the yukata.

1. What is a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Men's Yukata

The first question for beginners is: what is a yukata?

The word yukata (浴衣) means bathing cloth; it was originally worn like a bathrobe while hopping between hot springs. In terms of shape and purpose, a Japanese yukata is a type of summery, streamlined kimono-robe, but its origins come from Japan's onsen (hot spring bathing) culture. The yukata is made from light, breezy, absorbent material like thin cotton or breathable synthetic material. It can be as basic or as extravagant as you like and these days it's most often worn during summer events like hanabi (fireworks) festivals or when visiting onsen resorts.

You can browse our selection of women's yukata and plus-size yukata, all pre-gift wrapped in beautiful washi paper, right here!

2. What’s the difference between a yukata and a kimono?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Benkei Yukata

A yukata is essentially a lightweight form of kimono, which is worn casually during the summer. They are made from thinner, lighter material than the traditional silk kimono, which makes them more comfortable in the hot weather, and easier to wash. Yukata are usually worn without extra layers, with simple underwear and no tabi socks. Visit our article to find out more about the differences between kimono and yukata! Or see our Top 30 Tips on Choosing your Perfect Kimono!

3. What are yukata made from?

SHOP THE LOOK | Neon Men's Yukata

The main yukata fabric is cotton, sometimes mixed with hemp fabrics to allow fast drying. When selecting a yukata material, designers always aim for fabrics with sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and breeziness. Unlike kimono, silk is not used for yukata, as it is not conducive to the moisture-heavy uses of the yukata. These days some fast-drying synthetic fabrics have also started to become a popular option.

4. How are yukata made?

Similar to the kimono, the yukata is cut from a single roll of fabric. Because its silhouette is so simple, the most interesting part in the creation of the yukata is the pattern or design. While today many yukata are printed using modern cloth printing techniques, in the past yukata were all dyed by hand .

Chusen is a popular traditional method for creating yukata patterns. This 300-year-old technique involves folding the yukata fabric into the size of tenugui towels; then the dye is poured over the material, to create the design. Often dyers use stencils to create unique patterns that separate the colors creating images that permeate every inch of the fabric, inside and out.

Another notable technique is shibori dyeing. Like the ancient Japanese incarnation of tie-dye, shibori involves twisting and tying off parts of the fabric to create one-off designs.

Indigo dye is a very popular color for traditional garments. Based on a natural plant dye with antibacterial, and dirt repelling qualities, it became the dominant colour seen within Japanese working communities, especially during the Edo era (1603-1868).

5. How much does a yukata cost?

SHOP THE LOOK | Red Benkei Yukata

The price of a yukata depends on how much you want to pay for it. Yukata can cost up to $1,000, and bespoke versions may cost even more. But what's great about these garments is that you can pick up an authentic Japanese design for less than the cost of branded t-shirt.

One major indicator of the quality of a yukata is where it's made: whether is made in Japan or elsewhere, most often China. Japanese yukata tend to be much higher quality as they use high-grade cotton, feature expert sewing techniques and stronger seams, and often display more fashionable patterns envisioned by individual designers. Chinese yukata, however, tend to be mass-produced, use synthetic fibers that are prone to damage, and are lacking in character. If you want to look different from every other tourist in Kyoto, you need a made-in-Japan yukata. Of course, this means you’ll have to pay more, but the price differential is absolutely worth it.

6. What do the different yukata designs, colors and patterns mean?

SHOP THE LOOK | Neon Men's Yukata

Yukata are designed with season in mind. As tradition dictates, wearers often select a yukata that anticipates the upcoming season. For example, a yukata with momiji (autumn leaves) or dragonfly motifs is worn at the end of summer to look forward to the cooler days of fall.

In general though, you don’t need to be too concerned with the symbolism present in your yukata design; simply pick the one you like and that suits you the best.

Some design recommendations:

Stronger, bolder patterns are usually suggested for taller women, while cute, delicate, and softer patterns often work better for shorter women. If you are fair-skinned, brighter yukata make the skin look fresh and youthful, while those with darker skin look great in deeper tones like indigo dye.

Men's yukata designs may also be influenced by the seasons and nature: designs featuring fireworks in summer or maple leaves as autumn looms. Traditionally, men’s yukata evoked a sense of elegance and power, and avoided gaudy colors or brash designs.

Modern yukata break that mold. Robe Japonica is a Harajuku-based fashion brand that makes yukata and kimono for men and women. Their eccentric designs include two-tone styles, a yukata featuring vintage umbrellas, and another covered in floating Shakespeare heads.

7. Do Japanese people still wear yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Red Kiku Yukata

In Japan, almost every woman owns some style of yukata. Go to any summer festival in Japan, and you'll see guests young and old dressed in brightly colored festive yukata. Yukata robes are also often worn in many of the country's onsen towns, where people go to hot bath hop and soak their stresses away.

Yukata are increasingly becoming part of the contemporary fashion scene, with modern designers reclaiming the home-grown inspiration of traditional Japanese fashion.

8. Are yukata comfortable?

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Men's Yukata

Yukata are among the most comfortable pieces of traditional Japanese clothing. They look sleek and stylish and require minimal upkeep, while staying cool and breathable in the muggy Japanese summer.

9. How to wear a yukata?


Make sure your yukata is clean and ironed. You can wear a light undergarment (such as a plain t-shirt and shorts) underneath the yukata. You'll need a koshihimo or two (or you can use a length of ribbon instead), to tie the yukata in place, and an obi, or any type of belt or cord, to finish the look.

Wearing the yukata:

Hold the yukata with the collar at the top and the sleeves facing outward. Slip your arms into the sleeves and wrap the yukata around your body. Make sure the hem of the yukata falls at your ankle level, then fold any excess fabric at the waist.

The only unbreakable rule is that the left side should be placed on top of the right side, as placing right over left is reserved for dressing the deceased!

Tie in Place:

Use the koshihimo to tie the yukata in place around the waist, and the upper chest if you're using two.

Obi Belt:

Wrap the obi around your waist twice, making sure to cover the koshihimo. Tie the obi in the front with a knot (check out our video on how to tie an obi), making sure it's tight enough to stay in place but comfortable to wear. Women then rotate the know around to the back, whereas men tend to leave it in place.


Adjust the collar so there's a space of about two fingers between it and your neck, then adjust sleeves and overall fit until comfortable.

Final touches:

Put on traditional footwear, such as geta or setta sandals, with tabi socks if desired

Add any accessories, such as a folding fan, kinchaku (small drawstring bag), or a decorative obijime (a decorative cord)

Remember, practice makes perfect It might take a few tries to become comfortable with wearing a yukata, but soon you'll be able to do it with ease.

10. What should you wear with a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Indigo Shima Yukata

In terms of essentials, you need to wear some sort of underwear, and you’ll need koshihimo to tie the yukata comfortably. On top of that you'll need an obi or belt, and you'll want to wear some sandals if you're leaving the house.

The traditional style for obi is hanhaba (half-width) for women and thinner kakuobi for men. For a more dramatic look, women can also wear nagoya obi, which is very wide. It doesn’t have to be an obi though; any long piece of fabric such as a scarf can be tied in the same way. Alternatively, you can wear a shorter belt, rope, or strip of fabric; whatever you think looks best.

You can browse our selection of made-in-Japan obi belt for men and women.

The most integral part of wearing an obi is making sure its color complements your yukata. There are a few basic combinations. Green is a classic color: simple, adult, and not too feminine. White offsets a sense of elegance and refinement, while warmer tones like maroon are strong but feminine. Blue obi suggest calmness, lighter blues feel airy, while dyed obi add a layer of texture and excitement. To give your yukata style an additional level of sophistication, add a decorative obijime around the outside of the obi.

11. How do you tie a yukata obi belt?

There are many ways to tie an obi belt, as you can see from the video above.

Here is one example of a knot that’s popular for women:

Kai-no-kuchi (Square Knot):

Wrap the obi around your waist twice and ensure that one end (A) is longer than the other end (B). Bring end A over end B, then pull end A under the layers of the obi and out from the top. Bring end A over end B once more, creating a loop. Now, take end A and bring it under and through the loop you just created. Pull both ends to tighten the knot. Adjust the knot so that it forms a neat square shape. Tuck any excess fabric from the obi ends neatly under the layers of the obi or let them hang if the obi is designed that way.

12. What should you wear under yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Kimono Undershirt

To prevent sweating on and staining your yukata, you should wear something underneath, preferably cotton, which is the most comfortable and absorbent during hot weather.

For women, there are dedicated kimono underwear known as the nagajuban, which can also come in extended robe-like versions. But there's no need to buy something especially: the simplest thing to do is to wear a light-colored V-necked T-shirt and light shorts. The same applies for men: light-material t-shirts (such as these from the Japan Objects Store) and shorts can be worn under your yukata.

13. What should you wear on top of a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Vintage Haori Jacket

Usually Japanese people don’t wear anything over a yukata, because it’s a summer garment, and Japanese summers are too hot to wear much! However if you live in a different climate, or it’s a different season, or even if the night air has a little chill you can always reach for a haori style kimono jacket.

14. What shoes should you wear with yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Men's Geta

Traditionally Japanese yukata are worn with geta or setta sandals and without the tabi socks that are commonly seen with kimono. The other common type of Japanese shoe, the zori, is seen as too formal to wear with yukata. For women, wooden geta or simple flip-flops, especially those made from tatami, are your best bet. Men also wear geta or flat-soled setta with no socks.

15. What other yukata accessories are there?

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Tsubaki Yukata

There are plenty of options for yukata accessories, including obi ita, a rigid board that is worn underneath the second layer of the obi to stiffens the belt and prevents it from folding or becoming creased.

An obijime is a thin decorative cord that’s tied around the obi to dress up the yukata, while a datejime is another under piece worn on the outside to keep the yukata in place. An obiage, also known as an obi scarf, can be worn to secure the bow of the obi.

Many women also like to accessorize with handbag or clutch (an you can check out some suitable options here), while men sometimes have a pouch bag known as a kinchaku for their belongings. There’s also another drawstring bag, known as a shingen bukuro, that men sometimes use.

A netsuke is a very unique and traditional accessory. It’s a miniature sculpture that is used similar to a wallet chain. The sculpture sits at the top of the belt, and belongings like tobacco, money, and seals can be hung from the cords.

Kanzashi hairpins are traditional hair accessories that can complement the yukata and are regularly worn with kimono. Classic Japanese-style umbrellas and fans are an easy way to accessorize and stay cool during the long summer days. If you want to wear a hat, we recommend something small and light like a straw cancan hat.

Finally, fans are a great way to complete your yukata set, especially those made with traditional washi paper. Or you can add chic jewelry, like pearl earrings or bouquet-style broaches.

16. What jewelry is suitable for yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Sakura Kanzashi Haircliop

Traditionally the yukata isn't worn with jewelry. But small earrings are a tasteful and subtle way to take the style to another level. At Japan Objects Store, you can buy mizuhiki pearl earrings, made with traditional rice-paper-twisting techniques and hand-polished maple wood.

Some people like to wear brooches, which can play a practical role if your yukata is coming open at the top. Our brooches, created by Oharibako, a renowned Kyoto specialist working on the luxury kanzashi craft for over 70 years, double up as kanzashi. Exquisite details on the broaches like the floral buds and green leaves demonstrate the expertise and care put into each piece.

If you want to wear a necklace, choker style is best, while bracelets can be good if the sleeves of your yukata are short and are not at risk of getting caught.

Some people like to extend the sleeves of their yukata by adding a length of lace underneath the garment. The beauty of the yukata is its simplicity, so feel free to use your imagination. You don’t have to be traditional to pull of yukata style!

17. When can you wear yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Kiku Kimono

These days the yukata is also most often seen at summer festivals and other festival celebrations like processions and picnics. Thanks to their ingeniously simple, but classic design and incredible comfort they're an easy way to pay homage to the aesthetics of traditional Japanese style.

In communal baths like onsen towns and sentos which are still popular ways to relax, they're is still worn as a quick, comfortable garment to slip on en-route to and from the bath. Head to a hot spring bath, or a tradtional ryokan inn today, and chances are you'll be putting on a yukata robe yourself!

18. Are yukata for summer only?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Men's Yukata

There were once strict rules about who could wear what, and when, but such diktats have fallen out of favor over the centuries. Moreover, customs around yukata-wearing are more liberal than for kimono, so ultimately you should wear yukata how and when you feel comfortable.If the weather is colder, you can wear thicker underwear, a nagajuban (under robe), or a scarf or jacket over the top.

19. What’s the difference between a yukata and a robe?

SHOP THE LOOK | Crane kimono robe

Nowadays, the yukata worn at a ryokan is simplified so that it can be worn easily with a simple tie around the waist, just like a bath robe. No special underwear, extra ties, or complicated folds are required.

A kimono robe is very similar to a yukata, though typically silk and often shorter in length, and is worn at home instead of the ryokan. There is no significant difference between men’s and women’s kimono robes, other than size and color, so chose whichever suits you.

Check out our selection of kimono robes here, or read this article to find out everything you need to know about kimono robes.

20. Do men wear yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Neon Men's Yukata

Often when we speak about the yukata, it's assumed that we're talking about women's yukata. Mean wear them too, of course, but there are a few differences between men's and women's styles.

Men's yukata tend to be a little plainer in terms of design, utilizing strong and dark colors, but this wasn't always the case. In the past, some men liked to wear brighter, fancier patterns, dressing up with an ethos similar to dandies of 18th century Europe. These fashion-forward men were known as kabuku, which shares linguistic roots with the elaborate and dramatic kabuki theater.

You'll see that on male yukata the sleeves are attached under the arms. On women's yukata, by contrast, the sleeves have become open or unattached at the bottom. The reason for this is that whilst men wear the obi belt around the waist, women tie it much higher up the body.

Men often wear boxer-shorts-like garments called suteteko underneath the yukata. Their yukata also do not fold at the waist, so they need to be the right length. Women's yukata fold at the waist for adjusting the height, so they're closer to one-size-fits-all.

21. Can children wear yukata?

Through Lily Pads by Kiyohara Hitoshi, 1950s

Many Japanese children wear yukata during special summertime events like matsuri festivals and fireworks displays. Beyond the size of the garment, boys' and girls' yukata are similar to their adult versions. They also wear the obi in the same way. Many kids’ yukata feature cute, younger designs with bold prints and bright colors.

From about Junior High onwards, children typically wear the same yukata as adults.

Because they can be a little bit of a tripping hazard, the yukata isn't recommended for toddlers. A better alternative for the unsteady on their feet is a traditional two-piece known as a jinbei.

Traditionally, custom and homemade yukata were designed to grow with the child. They were the same style as adult yukata, but with hidden folds that could be extended as they grew. An example is the folds on the shoulders known as kataage (肩上げ), which were let out when the child reached age 13.

21. How to fold a yukata?

To store your yukata, it's best to fold or hang it. You can watch our video guide on how to fold any kimono or yukata above.

23. How to wash a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Men's Yukata

There are a few tricks to take care of your yukata. The first is a preventative measure. To avoid staining easy to stain areas, like under the arms, you can sew a protective layer of material on the inside of the yukata. This will catch the sweat before it reaches to the outside of the garment. Simpler still, you can wear a V-necked short-sleeved T-shirt underneath, which will ensure you keep the yukata away from your skin.

If you have gotten sweat on the yukata, place the stained part on top of a dry towel and dab away the stain using a moist wet cloth. Dabbing away stains, like tea stains, is the best way to reduce the risk of fading through overwashing.

Another option is to use an old toothbrush and a little detergent to scrub at the stain to remove it. If washing via machine is necessary, fold the yukata into a laundry net and machine wash on a hand-wash cycle; don't use the spin cycle. Once out of the machine, roll the yukata into a towel to squeeze out the excess water before leaving it to hang dry.

24. How to iron your yukata?

Ironing a Kimono by Miyagawa Shuntei, 1898

To keep that yukata crisp, iron first from the collar, then fold as you iron. If you don't want to iron your yukata, you can fold it, then weigh it down with heavy cushions overnight and hang it the next day.

25. How to walk in yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Benkei Yukata

Maintain good posture to help you carry the yukata with elegance and avoid putting strain on the obi.

Take shorter steps to avoid stepping on the hem or causing the yukata to open too much.
Aim for a smooth, gliding walk rather than heavy or bouncy steps to prevent the yukata from shifting.

Keep the yukata closed as you walk by placing one hand gently on the fold.

If you're wearing traditional footwear, take some time to practice walking in them. This might involve lifting your feet slightly higher and landing softly to avoid making noise with the wooden soles.

When walking in crowded areas or navigating obstacles, be aware of the space you occupy, including your sleeves and the hem of your yukata.

With practice and mindfulness, you'll soon be able to walk confidently and comfortably in a yukata. Remember to enjoy the experience, as wearing a yukata is an opportunity to appreciate and immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

26. How to sit in a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Tsubaki Yukata

Once you're standing in front of the chair ease yourself down comfortably while placing your hands at the back to keep the front smooth. The typical mannered way is to sit with your knees together and not to cross your legs.

27. How choose the right size?

SHOP THE LOOK | Blue Men's Yukata

When buying a yukata, you don’t need to worry too much about finding your exact size; especially for women, they’re typically one size fits all. Men will be more concerned with length as their yukata typically aren’t folded. If you want to be more precise, check out our kimono and yukata size guide.

28. How to drive or cycle in a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Red Floral Yukata

Yukata are not very restrictive so there’s not much to worry about, just pay attention to your obi knot and your footwear.

If you have tied a large obi knot, you might have to sit forwards in the driving seat a little to leave a space for the knot. So, you would need to move the driver's seat back a bit to accommodate this. Remember to adjust your mirrors!

It's best not to wear footwear you are not totally comfortable in; you have to be able to use the pedals easily. If you don’t regularly wear geta or sandals, it could create a hazard, so bring some sneakers for the car!

For cycling, it’s best to wear leggings or pants underneath, then raise the kimono to mini-skirt length. This was the traditional way of engaging in active passtimes when people used to wear kimono more frequently. It's best to tie up the sleeves with an armband, a koshihimo, or a length of ribbon or string to make sure they don't get caught in anything.

29. Where to buy a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Gold Men's Yukata

You’ll find no shortage of places to purchase a yukata when traveling in Japan. That said, we have lots of fantastic options at Japan Objects Store, with domestic and overseas shipping options available. Whether you want a casual yukata, a haori jacket, traditional geta or setta sandals, or accessories to complete your set, we’ve got you covered.

30. How to take a good photo in a yukata?

SHOP THE LOOK | Tsubaki Yukata

To get the perfect photo while in a chair, sit forward and at a slight angle with your face to the camera. When posing lean forward slightly, with your back straight and head high. To complete the look, make sure your feet sit at a natural angle with your heels slightly raised.  

If you're standing, stand at a 45-degree angle from the camera with your face to the camera. Stand proud with your back straight, stomach in, and chest out. Put your weight on your left foot, with your toes together and your heels slightly separated.

31. The growing international appeal of yukata

SHOP THE LOOK | Neon Men's Yukata

Yukata are no longer the preserve of Japanese traditionalists. People beyond the archipelago are starting to use the style as inspiration for their own fashion designs, including Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent. And with homegrown brands like Robe Japonica and Veduta reinventing the yukata, its innovation potential seems boundless.

Japanese people generally view the yukata’s growing international appeal as a positive thing, rather than an act of cultural appropriation. So don’t worry about feeling out of place by wearing one as a non-Japanese citizen; chances are your hosts will take pride in you celebrating their culture!

4 条评论

  • Japan Objects Store

    Hi Nadia! Yes, in fact we would recommend it if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. The most traditional geta can take some getting used to at first. The most important thing is that you be comfortable!

  • Nadia

    Is it okay if I wear modern sandals instead of a geta/setta? I’m worried if I’ll have to walk far since I will be travelling and never worn either

  • John P

    Great website!!

  • Arthur Tongue

    thank you,
    You have answerd one of my two major questions about what I where under a yukata.



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