Yukata is an informal, unlined kimono made of cotton and worn with a narrow sash (obi). It is usually worn to the bath or in the summertime. Unlike ceremonial kimono, yukata is casual and comfortable to wear. It can be worn next to the skin. Wooden clogs (geta) are usually worn without Japanese socks (tabi) when wearing a yukata. Today many people wear yukata at summer festivals (matsuri), fireworks displays (hanabi-taikai), and the Bon Festival Dance (bon-odori). Recently the yukata has become fashionable among young women
August is the hottest month of the year in Japan. Not only is the temperature high, so is the humidity. The word for “hot” is “atsui（暑い）,” and “humid” is “mushiatsui （蒸し暑い）.” Although the northernmost Hokkaido is much cooler, the temperature there goes up to 30 degrees or more on an almost daily basis in August. This is called “manatsubi（真夏日）” or midsummer days. Late July, August and early September mean festivals in Japan. You’ll find them all over the country, and even in local neighborhoods, either 祭り (まつり), matsuri, festival) or 花火大会 (はなびたいかい, hanabi taikai, fireworks display/show). Matsuri generally refers to a festival (as that is what it means), which can take on various forms depending on the type of festival it is. Most people who come to this event are wearing Yukata. Yukata are worn at outdoor summer events such as hanabi (fireworks) displays and bon-odori festivals, but sometimes you need it just to take photos :p
Anyway, If you’re in Japan, whether you live here or just visiting, I certainly recommend checking out a festival of some kind, in particular the fireworks festivals. But how do you find them? One way, of course, is by word of mouth from those that live in your area. You may also see posters at nearby train stations advertising upcoming festivals. It’s also likely your city and/or prefectural website lists upcoming events (sometimes in English). And as you may already know, it’s not difficult to find some of the biggest events in Japan, online, in English. However, there are also websites that list festivals all over Japan, not just the most popular, and provide necessary info such as where they happen and when. Though these are in Japanese, they may help you find a festival you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
Yokohama, Summer 2012