The yukata is the classic summer dress for both men and women here in Japan and I guess it is possible to think of it as the informal kimono. You know it is summer when you see the first yukata worn casually! They are especially common in more traditional events such as festival and dances but some people like to wear them to the beach even. Tying the belt (the obi) of the yukata can be as complicated as you can make it, or as simple as clipping on a belt, these days there are many varieties available in stores. It is also traditional to wear sandals, but you will often see kids with sneakers or even adults with flip flops or boots these days.
I took these photos of ladies in everyday yukata at the massive Mitama Matsuri at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine in the Kudanshita district. A lot of people took the opportunity to pose next to the very attractive yellow paper lanterns! This is one of my favorite Tokyo festivals, held in July every year for several days.
We are in the middle of festival season here in Japan and the warm dark summer nights are just perfect for them! And few festivals can beat the massive Mitama Matsuri held every year over several days in July, at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine. I took these snaps from an area of smaller lanterns inside the shrine’s precinct. A lot of people took the opportunity to snap photos of themselves – and a lot of people were wearing fabulous traditional Japanese summer yukata, both men and women. I also found a very cute ema by young Yutaro, whose most fervent wish was to meet the Kamen Rider Wizards – characters from a popular kid’s TV series of super heroes. I guess his mother helped him with the writing though as I assume he was only five!
This year’s opening of the massive Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine must have broken some sort of record, if not in the number of people then at least in the temperature! It was absolutely boiling away as what must have been several hundreds of thousands of people gathered to enjoy one of Tokyo’s best and largest festivals. The festival started last night at six and goes on until Tuesday night, with events, music, marching bands, choirs, awaodori, obon dancing, monkey shows, traditional Japanese dance, poetry, art, omikoshi, etc. It’s like a mini Olympics in Japanese culture! It’s also a festival were a very large percentage of visitors turn out in Japanese traditional clothing, both foreigners and Japanese. How about these cute kids or the yukata beauties? But I think this superbly handsome dad took the gold medal in his simple retro yukata and hat!
Mitama Matsuri is famous for its many yellow lanterns – if you are in Tokyo over the long weekend, this is something you don’t want to miss!
Some more costumes from the photogenic Kyoto Jidai Matsuri, the festival of the ages! One of my favorites are the gorgeous costumes worn by the women with the pointy white headwear. I think they might be saleswomen but I am not sure what era they recreate. The warriors don’t look half bad either but I always wonder how effective their bows could have been in combat?