A yukata is a thin kimono that Japanese wear for summer festivals and events. Nowadays, it has also become a kind of special summer fashion. 

Photo by Quu1ed1c Bu1ea3o on Pexels.com

It began as a garment worn for steam baths during the Heian era. Later, when people started bathing in water, it transitioned to after-bath wear. Being associated with relaxation, people also wore it at home—kind of like how people nowadays wear pajamas around the house. Despite looking similar to a formal kimono, Japanese people actually consider Yukata to be casual clothing.

There are some structural differences between mens’ and womens’ yukata. Women’s yukata have open parts under the armpits called Miyatsu-guchi. Another difference is length. Men’s length depends on their height, but you can fold women’s around the waist to the length you prefer. (The folded part is called ohashori.)

While mens’ and womens’ yukata have differences, there is one thing that both genders absolutely must do. You always need to fold the left side over the right side. It’s very important to remember, because wearing a kimono with the right side on top is how we dress the deceased for funerals. Wearing it like that means that you’re dead! 

A long time ago, making yukata was seen as women’s work. Girls even learned how to make yukata at school until recently. I remember both my grandma and great grandma making yukata for my sister and I when I was still in preschool. It’s one of my happy memories about yukata.

Mizuhiki Crafts

“Mizuhiki” is a thin cord made from starched Japanese paper. The starch makes them stiffer, but still bendable enough to fold and tie for decorations. Similar to how gifts are wrapped with ribbons in the west, gifts in Japan are decorated with mizuhiki designs. Some are extremely elaborate, and because of their versatility, many beautiful accessories are also created with them.

There are different stories about mizuhiki’s origin. One is that when Japanese diplomats sent to China during the Sui dynasty returned home, they brought back gifts from the Sui sealed with red and white flaxen cord. Red and white cords then began to be used to seal gifts to the Japanese imperial household, but the custom eventually spread to gifts of all kinds.

We send money in envelopes for many celebrations in Japan. These envelopes are sealed and decorated with mizuhiki. Depending on the event, there are several traditions of design. Certain colors, numbers of cords, and the method used to tie the knots are all important. Mizuhiki have also become more artistic over time, and the techniques have been used to create many stunning designs. 

Mizuhiki are a little difficult to find outside of Japan, but still you can use stiff cords to try making them. In the US, I’ve found that waxed beading cords are a bit similar, and use them in my own accessory designs.

Here is a video “2 DIY Japanese Inspired Accessories Tutorial” by “Best For Her” from YouTube.