Many viewers of anime have a strong sense of what a yukata is, but when you hear the word, it leaves you utterly clueless. A yukata is a kimono in all sense of the word but what we don’t realize is that all kimonos are not the same. A yukata is a lighter and more casual kimono worn during the warmer months or to summer festivals. However, this was not the traditional use of the yukata. In this article, we will explore the use and history of this beautiful garment.
History of the Yukata
The yukata wasn’t initially meant to be worn to festivals; rather it was created to be worn as a sort of bath robe so that it could dry the skin and keep the wearer warm while not in the bath. Originating in the Edo period, the modern day yukata was known as a yukatabira since the Japanese did not use bath towels and the word yu comes from the Japanese word nyuyoku meaning bathing. The material was made of cotton since it was absorbent and cotton was widely harvested during the Edo period. Since the name yukatabira was thought to be too long, they have since shortened it to yukata. The color blue was the most popular color for the yukata and remains so today. This is because it was the easiest color to dye as it stained the cloth very easily. The yukata has a rich history; however, it is not used as it was intended many years ago.
Yukata in Anime
Yukata are popular in anime and are often seen both in their modern and traditional uses. Modern day use of the yukata can be seen as being worn by characters such as when the Ouran High School Host Club dresses up to enjoy a spring party or when Haruka Nanase and his swim club dress up to go to a festival in Free!. A more classic example of the yukata is worn by Yuuna Yunohana in Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san. Many anime contain examples of the yukata, it is just a challenge to learn to recognize it apart from the classic kimono.
We hope that this article has broadened your scope of anime/ Japanese terms and has helped you grow in your understanding of Japanese culture. There is so much history hidden beneath each garment in anime that it is impossible to know it all. However, by reading articles such as this it can help you to understand the significance that the creators are trying to make by purposefully putting it in their anime. Yukata are just a small part of Japanese culture but were very significant in bath houses and were essential during the Edo period moving forward. Each step that is taken in our collective understanding makes us all more educated viewers with a deeper understanding of culture, art and history.
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