By Vivian Morelli
Summer in Tokyo means matsuri (festival) time, which also means yukata time! A lighter version of the kimono, yukata are worn with an ‘obi’ belt sash and optional accessories including ‘geta’ (wooden clogs), a hand fan and a small handbag. The word yukata comes from ‘yukatabira’, a bathrobe dating back to the Heian period (794-1185) that was used to dry off after bathing. This later became a common form of clothing to wear to and from the bathhouse. Nowadays, you can still wear a certain type of yukata for bath time, such as those provided at ryokan (traditional inns), but those worn at summer festivals are more elaborate with fabric designs varying from the traditional plain cross-hatch pattern to busier, more intricate ones.
In recent decades, traditional clothing such as kimono and yukata has enjoyed a revival in Japan. Aside from the wide range of yukata available at secondhand shops, department stores and specialist boutiques, there are also local designers offering spiced-up, modern creations. When it comes to pairing your yukata robe with an obi sash and other accessories, colour co-ordinating is optional, but we think it’s far more fun to mix and match different shades, textures and patterns to achieve the most dramatic effect. Here’s our list of top shops as well as a handy step-by-step guide on how to tie your yukata (it’s not as easy as it looks). All that’s left is figuring out how exactly to shuffle around on those geta.