When is a kimono not a yukata?
When I was searching for yukatas recently, I came across this cotton ro kimono from Yamatoku.
I already have this other yukata with jazzy pattern (see below) in cotton ro. Ro is a leno weave characterised by hundreds of tiny holes, usually laid horizontally, and is wonderfully thin and light in the hot weather. So I bid on this floral one straight away. And at 99 cents I was the only bidder.
Perhaps it was because the photo didn’t do it justice. The stencilling is actually dark blue, so this kimono is in that classic Japanese combination of indigo and white.
I have no idea what the jazzy pattern yukata is meant to signify, but hanamaru are flower pictures drawn in children’s schoolbooks by the teacher when they’ve done well – similar to getting a gold star in the UK.
What I also didn’t know was why it was listed as a kimono rather than a yukata. This turns out to be simply the way you wear it. The floral design is quite elegant and ladylike, with crisp and detailed stencilling, so if worn with a juban, it will qualify for kimono status, whereas the abstract patterned yukata is very definitely casual wear, to be worn without a juban, simply over underwear.
When the floral kimono arrived, it was very stiffly starched, and I’m waiting for an opportunity to wear it – the christening needs to be a special occasion, I think, rather than just an everyday event (I already have the abstract one for that). But I think it will get quite a lot of wear over the years.
I’ve also been given the suggestion from Immortal Geisha that if I want the best of both worlds – the look of a kimono but the feel of a yukata – I could always make a false collar and sleeve linings for it, and if they’re removable, then it gives me a very flexible garment.
As you can see, I have been wearing it in the 30-degree temperatures we’ve had here in France this summer of 2010 and it looks and feels beautifully fresh and crisp.