Archive for April 2014

What is a yukata?

womens yukata and a mans yukata

A yukata is the most informal type of kimono. Made from light-weight unlined cotton and easier to wear than traditional kimonos, the yukata is a popular casual garment for men and women during Japan's hot, humid summers; it is commonly seen at festivals and hot spring resorts (yukata literally means bathing clothes) but increasingly at other public events as young women in particular view them as a stylish option. Traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) and hot spring resorts also provide yukata for their guests as loungewear.

The following images show the basic differences between a formal kimono and a yukata.

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Tags: yukata | formal kimono | obi | ryokan | tradition | festival | video

Cherry blossom viewing in Japan

View of cherry blossoms at Yoshino

The cherry blossom is dear to Japanese hearts. As the blossoms emerge every spring, families and friends will gather across Japan to view their national flower (sakura) in bloom, drink warm sake and snack on sweet dumplings, in a tradition known as hanami ('flower viewing'). The ritual of hanami has been celebrated since about the 8th century, at first only by the imperial courts but later also enjoyed by the common people; nowadays, famous cherry blossom locations can get very crowded and locals compete for the best viewing spots in public gardens, setting out their picnic blankets hours in advance. With April marking the start of the Japanese school year and the month when many new employees begin work, hanami parties and cherry blossom festivals are also a popular way to welcome newcomers.

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Tags: cherry blossom | sakura | hanami | festival | Japan | Kyoto | Hiroshige | haiku | Issa | symbol | tradition | samurai | tea | food | wedding

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