A handy guide to putting on your yukata

Toukasan, a.k.a. the Yukata Festival, will arrive in Hiroshima city June 4 and continue through the weekend. The Yukata Festival is the perfect opportunity to show off your yukata along with thousands of other people downtown. But are you ready? For those of you who aren’t sure exactly how to put on your yukata, Monica has put together this helpful step-by-step guide and video.

By Monica Copley

As the temperature warms, the stores are preparing for summer with yukata displays. This lightweight summer kimono is perfect for the various summer festivals starting in June. Yukata can be found at most department stores and tourist shops, and are actually quite easy to put on yourself.

To begin with, all you really need is a yukata, belt (obi), and some strings to help hold it in place. It’s also best to wear something underneath the yukata, because it can be a bit sheer at times. A slip or tank top and shorts work well, or you can buy special yukata underwear (hadagi or juban).

I’ve made this instructional video to guide you through the process, as well as listed the steps below with some pictures.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7coa0WX5myU

How to put on the yukata:

Once you put the yukata on, line up the lapels (eri), and hold the bottom in your right hand. Use your left hand to pull up the back so that the hem will be over your feet. There will be fabric gathered around your waist. Then cross the left and right lapels across your body to make sure it’s even.

After crossing the right lapel, hold it in place with your elbow and then cross the left in front of your body. Then wrap a string around your waist under the gathered fabric and tie it. Once that is done, adjust the fabric so that it hangs over the string and is even.

Then wrap and tie a string over your waist to hold it in place.

Those are the basics for putting on the yukata!

Now for the fun part: the obi! You can buy obi that come already tied and use elastic that makes them easy to put on. However, these are usually more expensive and not as much fun as the obi that you tie yourself. You can find a variety of tying methods in magazines and books, but the following is a simple method.

How to put on the obi:

Take the obi and fold one end in half. Put the end over your right shoulder with the fold on the bottom. Unfold it when it reaches your waist, and wrap it around your body twice. Be sure to keep the obi flat and wrap it tightly.

When you reach your right hip the second time around, fold the bottom up to meet the top so that it’s folded in half. Take the piece that’s over your right shoulder and pull it down and to the left, keeping it folded in half.

Cross this piece over, and then under, the other end and pull it tight to make a knot. Then rotate the knot so that the longer end is on the right.

Now unfold the long end so that it’s flat. Fold this accordion style about three times. Make sure both sides are even, with the knot centered behind it. Now pinch the center of the accordion over the knot to create a bow shape.

At this point, take the other end and cross it over and under the accordion bow, from top to bottom, and pull it tight.

Then cross it over the bow again and tuck the edge into the obi. Reach though the bottom of the obi to pull it tight, and unfold it. Adjust the bow so that it’s perpendicular to the ground, and fluff out the edges to your liking.

Now carefully rotate the obi by pulling on the bottom so that the bow moves to the right. Stop when the bow reaches your back.

You’re finished! Bask in your beauty!

If you want, you can accessorize in many ways. You can wear Japanese sandals (geta) with or without socks, or you can wear flip-flops or sandals. I’d recommend using a hand-held purse or small decorative bag. Avoid straps if possible, because they can get caught on the sleeves. You can store fans in the obi. Your cell phone also can fit in the obi, and your cell phone charm can be used as a decoration. You can even use your sleeves to store some small items, which is really convenient. Lastly, have fun pulling up your hair and showing off your yukata at a festival!

Yukata mannequins photo by abuckingham. Published under Flickr Creative Commons License.

4 comments

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  • David Gore

    Nice post! It’s very informative, my sister would love to watch the video and read this post. She’s fascinated on Japanese culture. How do guys call their kimono?

  • Masakazu

    Monica san, it is nice to understand and leran how to put on yukata well. Please post men’s version, too.