What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono?


Kimono and Yukata are two forms of traditional Japanese garments that are used on various occasions. Visitors could mistake them for one another at first look. It is much more difficult to discern the key differences like origin, how to wear… between these two sorts of clothes for foreigners who are unfamiliar with Japanese culture. So, what is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono? If you’re unsure about the main difference between these two outfits, let’s check out this article from Janbox below!

1. What is a Yukata?

Yukata (“浴衣”) is a Japanese term that combines the words “Yu” – “Bath” and “Katabira” – “Inner Underwear,” and refers to a form of clothes used after bathing or after visiting a hot spring. The yukata, on the other hand, has grown into a stylish and creative kind of summer apparel or pajamas with a variety of patterns and colors, as well as a variety of accessories. This is a style of costume that many individuals, regardless of age, possess since it is inexpensive yet less formal, easy to combine and use daily.

Yukata, with its flexible T-shape, is also regarded as a separate type of summer kimono. This is the most informal style of traditional clothes, with no hemlines and generally made of cotton, linen, or hemp for a light, breezy feeling in the summer. Yukata can be worn by anybody, however, males tend to wear them less frequently than women on various occasions.

What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono

What is a Yukata?

Young people’s Yukatas are vividly colored and feature floral motifs, whilst the elderly’s Yukatas are generally dark in color and have simple designs. In the past, Yukata was primarily worn by the aristocratic classes of ancient Japan. During the Edo era, yukata became popular for two reasons. The first is related to changing bathing practices, while the second is related to upper-class clothing norms of the time.

From a single-layered silk kimono worn in the bath by the upper class, the yukata evolved into what it is today. Priests began bathing in water for cleansing circa 1800. The samurai and nobles followed suit, but because silk was not waterproof, people began to use cotton or linen-like materials instead. Finally, the practice spread to the middle and lower classes, and public bathhouses sprung up all over Tokyo. People who had to go from their houses to the baths developed a demand for nicer yukata to wear in public, and the modern-day yukata was born.

>> Read more: Top 20+ best things to buy in Japan that you can’t buy here

2. What is a Kimono?

The term kimono is derived from two characters: ki (着) (to wear) and mono (物) (to thing), thus a kimono is essentially a thing you wear! The kimono became an item of popular clothing in Japan because it was quite functional despite its many layers. A densely layered kimono composed of cotton and silk might be worn as a means to combat the weather while yet looking attractive throughout the cold winters. The sleeves of a kimono are typically quite long and broad. Furthermore, an undershirt and a short undershirt must be worn on the inside of the Kimono.

They may also be worn all year and come in a variety of styles for different seasons. In the spring and fall, they are lined, padded in the winter, and unlined in the summer. Kimonos can be worn by both ladies and men. Other types of kimonos exist, depending on the occasion and the wearer’s social position.

Japan has turned to China for inspiration for generations, especially in the fashion industry. The kimono was, in essence, a localized form of the Hanfu, a classic Chinese garment. The kimono is made up of four distinct pieces of cloth stitched together in a T-shape, kept together by complex folds, and fastened with an obi belt. Polyester kimonos are particularly popular among Japanese women these days since they are warm, flexible, come in a wide range of colors, and are readily machine washable.

[10 keys] What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono?

What is a Kimono?

During the Kofun era, the first prototypes of what would become the kimono were brought to Japan from China (300-538 AD). Multi-layered kimonos for ladies, colors that were used to symbolize positions in court for men (the darker the color, the higher the rank), and particular combinations of colorful layers to depict seasons and flora were all prevalent throughout the Heian era (794-1185).

The kimono’s sleeves became longer throughout the Edo era (1603-1868), and the “obi” (sash) evolved from a concealed tie to a visible sash that was longer, broader, and required its own accouterments to hold it in place. The basic form of the kimono has remained unaltered since this time.

The government imposed edicts regulating dress habits around the same era because the newly rich merchant class’s public display of expensive “shibori” (tie-dyeing) and “Shishu” (embroidery) silk kimono was seen as a threat to the upper classes’ prestige. Merchants were forbidden from wearing shibori and Shishu silk kimonos, therefore “Yuzen” (resist dyeing), a new innovative dying method that allowed for more dynamic patterns, was created, and cotton became a popular fabric.

After hundreds of years of seclusion, Japan opened its doors to the West during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Government employees began wearing Western clothes at work while continuing to wear kimonos in their personal lives. Women were less influenced, and the only modifications they saw were in the shape of more Western accouterments like gloves, boots, and scarves.

Another upheaval in the kimono scene occurred during the Taisho era (1912-1926). Kimono began to be made using “Meisen,” a less expensive and more durable form of resist-dyed silk. Meisen is distinguished by bold, vivid motifs that have never been seen before in kimono history, and it filled demand for colorful, inexpensive kimono during the Great Depression, serving similarly to jeans in Western countries.

The downfall of the kimono as a daily wear item occurred during World War II when they were viewed as unpatriotic because they needed too much fabric. If not traded for food, kimonos were put away, and Japanese mothers began to dress their children in Western clothing. As a result, the first generation of Japanese men and women who did not wear kimonos in everyday life was born!

3. What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono?

When you see a yukata or kimono, you will immediately identify it as traditional Japanese attire; they are unique outfits. Many individuals, though, will be unaware of the distinction between the two. The kimono and yukata evolved under Japanese aesthetic standards and manufacturing techniques to become what we see today.

[10 keys] What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono?

What is the difference between a Yukata and a Kimono?

However, there are a few major differences between the two costumes that first-time visitors may not notice:

3.1. Shape

The kimono and yukata are similar in shape since they are both T-shaped, however, when wearing the kimono, the look will be different from the yukata in the collar. Furthermore, if the kimono is stitched in a bigger shape than the yukata, it will be simple to put on. Because in the summer, the yukata must be tidy, thin, and light, and the kimono must be broad enough to allow us to comfortably wear the inner lining.

3.2. Style

Yukata is generally made up of bright colors, whereas kimono is made up of dark and neutral hues. Yukata outfits are traditionally fashioned in dark blue and white. However, numerous modifications have occurred as a result of today’s fashion trends. Japanese females can be seen wearing yukatas of various forms and colors with fruit, floral, and humorous animal patterns at summer festivities.

The base color of a kimono is frequently black, although today’s ornamental patterns are considerably more varied. Kimonos with lovely cherry blossoms and white cranes may be seen. Modern bridal kimonos are brightly colored and embellished.

In terms of style, the yukata is comparable to a bathrobe or dressing gown, and it is often worn with less formality and ornamentation than a kimono. Because expensive silk or ornately designed kimonos are seldom washed, they are worn with an inside layer called a Nagajuban to keep the outer garment clean and dry. Yukata, on the other hand, are considerably easier to clean than Nagajuban and are thus frequently worn without one.

3.3. Material

The materials utilized to manufacture these two styles of clothes are vastly different. The kimono is traditionally made of silk or brocade, which is the perfect fabric for this attire. Kimonos are now widely available in cotton, rayon, felt, cotton, satin, and polyester man-made textiles.

Meanwhile, Yukata is composed of only one fabric, cotton, and has no inner lining. This fabric is generally lighter and is particularly appropriate for summer due to its comfort and perspiration absorption. This is a component of everyday clothing that necessitates practicality. Nowadays, yukatas are made from a wider range of fabrics, including polyester, making them less expensive than kimonos and more comfortable to wear in the summer.

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3.4. Composition

A lining is generally present beneath the patterned silk layer in kimono, but not in yukata. The reason behind this is that yukatas are designed to be worn solely during the summer.

3.5. Sleeves

The length of the sleeves is an obvious form difference between a kimono and a yukata. The length of a kimono’s sleeves varies depending on several criteria, including age and the seriousness of the occasion. Furisode kimono is the kimono with the longest sleeves. Unmarried young ladies wear these sleeves, which are so long that they almost touch the ground. This allowed eligible males to determine which women were available for marriage proposals, however, this information is not well recognized today. Kimono with medium-length sleeves are also available. The yukata, on the other hand, will have sleeves no longer than 50cm, ensuring that they never come into contact with the ground.

3.6. The collar

The collar is arguably the most significant distinction between a kimono and a yukata. Due to the cloth used, a kimono has a full-width, soft collar, but a yukata has a half-width, harsher collar.

In addition, a kimono usually features two collars, one close to the neck and the other, termed a Juban collar, immediately below it. One is near to your neck, while the other is lower in the front, allowing you to view the other collar well. Because a Juban collar isn’t worn below, a yukata just has one collar. Though some individuals add ornamental ruffles to yukata collars for fun, the result is significantly different from a Kimono with a Juban collar below it.

3.7. Footwear

Sandals and socks are required when wearing a kimono or yukata. With their ceremonial kimono attire, the Japanese typically wear a style of footwear known as zori. They are composed of vinyl, brocade, or cloth and resemble sandals. Women must also wear a specific sort of sock called tabi, while males may wear their zori with nothing else. When wearing a Yukata, however, sandals and socks are optional.

Geta (traditional Japanese sandals) are a must-have accessory while wearing a kimono. Geta is a type of hardwood sandal that may be worn all year. They’re casual and can be thought of like the Japanese version of sneakers. As a result, white socks are a must-have component of this attire.

These socks are typically white, although they are available in a variety of colors. Socks are now available in a range of non-traditional hues such as pink and black, making them more of a fashion statement than a ritual.

3.8. Occasion

The kimono and yukata are appropriate for a variety of occasions. In general, yukata are worn more casually throughout the summer months when attending fireworks displays or other summer events. Yukata have brighter designs and colors since they are less formal, whereas kimonos are worn for more formal occasions such as weddings and graduations. Even so, anyone can wear a kimono or yukata whenever they choose. People in Japan may even be seen wearing these traditional outfits regularly.

3.9. Season

Kimonos are composed of a heavier fabric, making them ideal for the colder months. Because the kimono is simply one thick layer of silk, some kimonos are accessorized with fur shawls and other accessories to make the kimono more weather-resistant.

In the summer, we are more likely to see someone wearing a yukata rather than a kimono because it’s a lighter cloth. Shorter kimonos are offered for instance when a kimono is worn in the summer. There are also unlined summer kimonos known as “Hitoe” kimonos (single layer kimonos) that are worn with a summer kimono undergarment.

Yukata are occasionally worn in other seasons within a ryokan (Japanese inn) or hot spring (onsen) resort because they are generally given out to visitors, but they will not be worn outdoors! Yukata cannot be worn in the cold since it is only one layer thick. Kimono, on the other hand, comes with a variety of accessories, making it ideal for all seasons.

3.10. Accessories

What’s the difference between a kimono and a yukata? The answer is the obi belt. There are many distinct forms of obi for women’s kimono. The Obi on a Yukata is generally fashioned like a ribbon, whereas the Obi on a Kimono is much thicker. Yukata are more convenient to wear than kimonos since they don’t require as many accessories.

3.11. Price

Kimono is more expensive than Yukata in terms of pricing because Kimono is constructed from more luxury fabrics and takes longer to produce.

4. Which is better: Kimono or Yukata? Should I buy a Kimono or Yukata?

If you’re deciding between a yukata and a kimono, it all boils down to two factors: where you want to wear it and how hot it is. You should get a kimono if you’re going to a formal occasion, such as a wedding, or if the weather is cold. If the weather is really hot, you might consider purchasing a yukata.

In all other cases, we have complete freedom to follow our hearts! Don’t worry about the sort of kimono you want; instead, focus on the color, pattern, and material you like. The most essential thing to remember while choosing a kimono is to feel fantastic and enjoy yourself!

It’s vital to remember to place the left lapel over the right lapel when wearing a kimono or yukata. Because if you do the reverse, you’ll be clothing the dead.


This Janbox article has helped you get the answer to your question: “ What is the difference between a Kimono and a Yukata?”. Both the kimono and yukata have a wide range of appearances and are frequently exquisite works of art, which is why they are so beloved and popular. If you are interested in Japanese culture, you can visit the Janbox website to see more!