What is the difference between a Kimono and a Yukata in traditional Japanese clothing?
Kimonos are longer, and because is it warmer in Japan, they’re often not worn until winter. Yukatas traditionally have wide sashes that come in red or a flower pattern/color of the season.
A yukata (浴衣) is a casual version of kimono worn for summer wear at festivals or after bathing, while a kimono (着物) is an elegant formal garment with many intricate patterns on the fabric rather than simple designs.
A Yukata is lighter and thinner than a Kimono. It would be more suitable for an event that’s not as formal, such as fireworks viewing parties or summer music festivals.
It has slits at the side which allow only one arm to be used comfortably, allowing for greater mobility in order to drink and eat Japanese food without dirtying oneself too much.
The pants can either have a slimming effect and be loose around the ankles (which allows for free movements of running) or flowy, following the shape of your legs easily (more comfortable after sitting).
It often comes with wide sleeves that are adjustable by tightening them together by tying strings at the shoulder area (You can also heavily adjust it with a belt around the waist area).
A Kimono is more suitable in formal events such as marriages or tea ceremonies and they aren’t commonly worn at festivals.
It has long sleeves so it will look more formal than its counterpart. The belt is less of a strap and more like an entire set of material that’s tied around the waist.
It has a lot of layers (similar to a wedding dress) and it shouldn’t be worn in extremely warm weather because it isn’t very breathable.
The Kimono’s flowy pants makes it difficult for one to walk in them, so women would often be accompanied by someone whenever they want to go about outside.
It’s also designed for women to look like a Japanese doll with layers upon layers of clothing, hence one can’t do anything too physically strenuous in it until they’ve removed all the layers.
A yukata is a lightweight robe worn in the summer, often to and from the bath. Yukatas are made of cotton or a synthetic fiber like polyester and may be brightly patterned with floral, geometric or abstract designs. It ties at the waist on one side usually by an attached belt. The other end hangs down into both legs as excess material; when you walk it swirls up and sometimes flares out from under your steps. A yukata can vary from short (knee-length) to long (to ankle length); the shorter versions are typically seen as less formal. Unlike kimonos, yukatas usually have no sleeves.
A Kimono is a more formal garment that has a back opening, neck and sleeves to make it durable in bad weather. It makes use of the latest in weaving techniques at the time and showcases elaborate embroidery on front panels. The most common color for kimonos is deep indigo but they come in other colors as well depending on type (shotai-kimono).
Kensa – A Kimono jacket with an inside lining of cotton or silk that looks like a robe worn over clothes. This kind can be found at “Oshinjin” shops specializing in Japanese clothing)
Tabi – An accessory for wearing! Originating from China, you wear them when you need your shoes taken off in a Japanese house or when you need to wear something between your socks and long skirt.
Komon – A kind of kimono that was worn by commoners and merchants. It is not as long as a formal Kimono and does not have elaborate embroidery on the front panels. Common to see many people wearing these at festivals because it is cheaper than a formal kimono, making them popular with kids too.
Yukata – A cotton garment that cuts open along the center of the back and has a string tied around it. It is very similar to an average ‘kimono’ that you wear over your clothes because it does not have any lining inside. A kimono one can find at “Bunkyoudou” shops which specializes in Japanese clothing)
Yukata is a summer kimono, traditionally worn as informal dress. It is generally thin cotton cloth that like a robe hangs from the shoulders without any sleeves. It normally of light colors, and has an open back for cooling or to show off the lining color if it is designed that way on both sides. The yukata can be used both day and night comfortably in most climates with just a pair slippers being needed to complete plain attire.
Kimono is an item that was historically used as informal or formal wear by aristocrats and ordained priests of Japan but now mainly worn as act of ceremonial Japanese clothing (like wedding kimono). Depending on the culture, it may also denote manliness among men and sacredness among priests. It is normally quite heavy and requires an obi to hold it in place. The Kimono has a number of layers so it has a lot of colors for lining and can have long or short sleeves. It is possible to have an open back depending on the kimono. Kimono in general is recognized as a formal dress for special occasions.
That being said, today you can see Yukata worn in both casual and formal situations such as summer festivals, fireworks festivals (hanabi taikai) many Japanese wear yukata to go shopping during the summer.
A Kimono has a stiff collar that stands up and a Obi belt to hold the garment in place. The Obi is tied with one’s back towards the right, while a Yukata’s belt is tied with your back facing to the left. A Yukata also has a shorter sleeve length and collar compared to that of Kimono.
When wearing an outdoor kimono or yukatta it is important to wear footwear so as not to walk around in public on dirtier floors. For Japanese people this footwear would be traditional socks called tabi, however for westerners these might typically be slippers (or sometimes socks) worn indoors with added rubber soles for additional traction when walking outside or moving across uneven surfaces such as tatami mats.