Key differences between a Kimono and Yukata
Kimono and yukata are traditional Japanese garments that have charmed their way around the world due to their beauty and style. Both are full-length T-shaped robes that have long sleeves and are secured with a decorative belt, worn by both men and women. Whilst they may look very similar, there are subtle variances between a kimono and yukata that a true Japanese culture enthusiast should be aware of.
So what is the difference between a yukata and a kimono? This post will help you distinguish the key differences between the two.
Yukata vs Kimono
Regardless of the differences between kimono and yukata, there is one very important rule for both. You must wear the left panel over the right! Wearing them the other way round is seen as extremely rude in Japanese culture, as those who have passed away are dressed in a right-over-left kimono. So just make sure to double-check how you are wearing either your kimono or yukata before leaving the house.
Arguably, the main difference between a kimono and yukata is the collar. A kimono has a soft, full-width collar; whereas a yukata has a half-width and stiffer collar, due to the material it is made from. In addition, a kimono typically has at least two collars, one close to the neck and one just below called a juban collar. A yukata only has one collar as a juban collar isn’t worn below.
A second distinctive shape difference between a kimono and yukata is the length of the sleeves. The sleeves on a kimono vary according to different factors, such as age and the solemnity of an event. Unmarried women wear kimono with sleeves that are very long, so long that they can touch the floor. Traditionally, this allowed for eligible men to recognise which women were available for marriage. There are also kimono that have medium length sleeves. On the other hand, the yukata will not have sleeves longer than around 50cm, so they won’t ever touch the ground.
Kimono are the more traditional and expensive garment. Usually made of silk or brocade, the traditional kimono is worn with at least two collars. As silk is considered a more luxurious material, the patterns of the kimono reflect this. In comparison, yukata were originally made to be worn by Japanese nobility after a bath to cool down. As they were primarily used for this purpose, yukata are typically made from cotton or polyester and so are often more affordable than kimono. For more information on the tradition of kimonos, please read our previous post.
Yukata, being a more casual option traditionally than a kimono, are typically made from a less expensive material such as cotton or a synthetic material. However, both kimono and yukata can be found in variations of silk, cotton and polyester today. It just depends whether you are looking for something traditional or something more commercial.
Tip: Also, check out our kimono care guide for tips on how to keep your kimono clean and vibrant.
A very quick way to spot if someone is wearing a kimono or yukata is by taking note of what season it is.
Kimono are made of a thicker material, making them much better suited for winter. The kimono is made of only one thick layer of silk, and so some kimono are accessorised with fur shawls and alike in order to make the kimono more suitable for all weather conditions. Similarly, in summer months you are less likely to see someone in a kimono but rather in a yukata as they are a lighter material. However, for occasions when a kimono is worn in summer, there are shorter kimono available.
Kimono and yukata are suitable for different occasions. Generally, yukata are typically worn more casually in the summer months to attend firework displays or other summer festivals. As yukata are less formal, they tend to have bright patterns and colours, whereas kimono are worn for more formal occasions such as weddings and graduations, see our blog for more occasions to wear a kimono. Still, anyone can wear a kimono or yukata any time they please. You may even see people in Japan going about their daily business in these traditional dresses.
We hope this blog has helped you to spot the differences between a kimono and yukata. Both kimono and yukata are extremely diverse in their appearance and are often beautiful works of art, which is what makes them so adored and popular.
For more information on yukatas and things to consider when buying one, please read our previous post. We offer a fantastic range of kimono and yukata available throughout the UK and overseas, so head back to our online store to see more!