Difference between Kimono and Yukata
By Theydiffer - July 21, 2016

If you are a fan of Japanese culture, surely you must have wanted to try on a kimono at least once. And we are sure of this just as we are sure of the fact that seeing how intricate and difficult getting one on is a bit overwhelming. But do not give up on your dream because you also have the choice of a yukata. You don’t know what that is? Then we suggest you continue reading.

Definitions

Japanese women dressed in traditional yukatas, attending a summer festival

A yukata is a more casual type of garment. Originally, the yukata was supposed to be a bathing robe, but it transitioned to a summer garment, now made of cotton or synthetic material. It is wrapped around the body and fastened with an obi. Yukatas are now worn at summer festivals, at ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and in onsen towns (towns in the vicinity of hot springs); they are light and easy to wear, with darker colors for men and flashy colors for women.

The yukata is worn over whatever undergarment feels more comfortable and can be worn with bare feet in the sandals. Since it is a comfortable garment, designed for moments of relaxation, a common accessory for the yukata is the small foldable fan and the kinchaku (a small carry bag for personal items).

The yukata panels are aligned and the robe is straightened at the back. Then the left panel goes over the right one, with the extra material tucked neatly in the ohashori fold. The obi covers the ohashori fold and is tied in a bow at the back. Special padding is added to keep the obi from wrinkling. The collar must reveal the back of the neck, creating a gap the size of a fist. Men’s yukatas do not have the ohashori fold and their obi is placed below the waist line, intentionally creating the impression of a pot belly.

The cost of a yukata, depending on the material, the accessories and the seller, can be as low as $100 and as high as $1,000.

Kimono vs Yukata

So what is the difference between a kimono and a yukata?

Traditionally, the kimono is the official Japanese garment. There is one type of kimono for every occasion and for specific social statuses (married women or unmarried women). The yukata is the kimono worn in summer, without the second kimono underneath and without socks. Its material is less pretentious and the patterns are flashy for women and dark for men. However, in modern times, the yukata has come to replace the ceremonial kimono and is the preferred traditional garment. The price issue also plays an important part.

The kimono is still worn on very special occasions; it must have at least one undergarment, it must show two collars and it must be made out of finer materials such as silk and brocade. There should not be two identical kimonos, making the price cover the product’s uniqueness.

As far as putting it on goes, both kimonos as well as yukatas are worn the same way. Also, in both cases women must have the ohashori fold, whereas men’s garments are easier to put on. They do not need to make the ohashori fold and in the case of the yukata, the obi is placed below the waist. The price is also a decisive factor in why people do not wear kimonos every day. The most expensive yukata costs a tenth of the cheapest kimono.

Comparison Chart

KimonoYukata
Traditional Japanese garment; one model for every occasionA summer kimono
Made out of precious textiles such as silk or brocade as well as linen and hempMade out of cotton or even synthetic materials
Unique patterns which can be worn according to the occasion and the seasonDark colors for men and flashy patterns for women
Worn over at least one, maximum two sets of undergarmentsCan even be worn over modern undergarments
The two panels are stretched out and crossed, the left side over the right one; two ribbons fix the kimono at the waist – this is covered by the excess material, and below the chest; they are both covered by the obiThe two panels are stretched out and crossed, the left side over the right one; two ribbons fix the kimono at the waist – this is covered by the excess material, and below the chest; they are both covered by the obi
When attending a funeral, the right panel must cross the left sideWhen attending a funeral, the right panel must cross the left side
Women must make the ohashori foldWomen must make the ohashori fold; men can tie their obi below the waist, creating the pot belly effect
Must be worn with socksCan be worn barefoot
Can be worn at ceremonies and very special occasionsCan be worn on a regular basis, especially in summer
Costs between $ 10,000 and $ 20,000Costs between $ 100 and $ 1,000