The Yukata and Its People
The Yukata and Its People
January 24th, 2020
My first summer in Fukushima - I remember it pretty vividly. The incredible humidity and heat, my somewhat nervous but excited colleagues on my first day of work, the fireworks, and the yukata.
It was sometime at the beginning of August when I moved to Fukushima, and where I live has great pride in being recognized as, "The Kingdom of Fireworks.” And what better way to watch a fireworks display than to slip on a yukata and quench your thirst with some ice-cold beer?
I told my boss one day, while the whole town was preparing for the annual summer festival, that I had an interest in yukata and how I wanted to try wearing one someday. " あー、そうかい。わがった。”–“Ah, is that so?" (imagine an old man sporting a goatee speaking in the strongest Tohoku accent) and continued to do his work. I shrugged it off and continued with my own work, thinking he did not have time to deal with me.
The next day, to my surprise, he brought his mother with an array of yukata! His mother asked me to pick some and helped me get into one whilst telling me about the yukata.
Did you know:
・The word “yukata” comes from "yu" meaning “bath,” and "katabira" meaning “under clothing,” and it was used in the Heian era initially as a bathrobe, but now is used commonly during summer and when visiting onsen (hot spring).
・ The traditional colour of the yukata is mainly indigo, but now newer designs use brighter colours, which younger people wear.
・Always drape the yukata left over right unless you are dead (we would not want to make this mistake now would we!)
・The wide sleeves are used as makeshift pockets every now and then (a hack for all women and men if you are not carrying a bag)
This experience not only made me appreciate this beautiful piece of tradition more but also looking back, the care my boss displayed, despite only being in the office for a week, really touched my heart.
There are many times when people say they are unable to grasp the sincerity of a person. However, this experience was one of the times when I personally received genuine care from someone I could call only an acquaintance (At that point in time - Now, he goes by Papa Genju). This experience is how my love for this country, culture, and people has deepened- and each day it only grows stronger.
Check out STAY JAPAN to book a stay in Fukushima and enjoy the same experience as Alex!
Content Creator / Editor
Alex has been all throughout Tohoku looking for new adventures. You can find where she will go next by clicking on her profile.
Erin currently lives on a beautiful island in Japan. If she is not busy educating, she is discovering new areas to explore. Click on her profile to check out her favorite spots to explore.
Giovanni's favorite activity is to connect and interact with the locals. Click on his profile picture to see who has been interacting with lately.