There’s no better way to get into Hiroshima’s annual Toukasan Yukata Festival than by joining the crowds and hitting the stalls kitted out in a yukata. The summer kimono is light weight, reasonably cheap and comparably easy to put on. That said, you can spend a pretty penny on your pretty yukata and for the novice, getting it to look just right can be quite a headache. Luckily, help is at hand.
Free Yukata For Foreigners
Hiroshima city is piloting a new scheme this year, offering free rental of yukata and geta sandal sets to 10 non-Japanese “visitors” on Friday and Saturday. There are 8 women’s sets and two men’s sets up for grabs on a first come, first served basis at Fukuromachi Park 13:00-21:30 each day. Proof of foreignness and a ¥3000 deposit is required.
Warning: While yukata are quite comfortable, geta sandals can leave the feet of the uninitiated in shreds. It’s worth keeping a pair of shoes handy to slip into between photos.
¥500 Yukata & Obi Straightening
If you’d rather not leave the design of your yukata to city hall, you can do your best at fitting your own yukata by referring to one of the many online guides or videos on YouTube. Then head for one of 3 Yukata Fitting Stations in the city center where, for ¥500, a pro will tighten things up for you.
- Fukuromachi Park Friday & Saturday 13:00-20:00
- Hiroshima Kokusai Hotel Friday June 5 & Saturday June 6 13:00-20:00, Sunday June 7 12:00-18:00
- Shareo Underground Shopping Mall
If you don’t think you can pull it off well enough to avoid being laughed at on the streetcar, there is also a Yukata Market in Shareo, where you can buy your outfit, get fitted in one go. There’s even a professional photo studio on site, so you can get a killer shot before you are all disheveled after a few circuits of Shintenchi Park.
Scroll down for a map showing the Yukata Station locations
Summer 2015 Yukata Trends
The return to popularity of antique and retro designs, with modern, pop accents for younger shoppers, continues in a big way. Don’t for a minute, think that that means lots of dark, drab fabrics. Old school yukata makers really liked to go to town on the color and designs front, and the designs often look remarkably fresh. Retro styling not quite a big enough statement and want to show a little more skin? You can always go for the, always popular east of Shintenchi, oiran high-class prostitute look.
So, where to buy?
Buying a yukata at a proper kimono shop can be a little more of a commitment than many are willing to make, and that stalwart of the yen-conscious shopper, Uniqlo, isn’t launching its yukata line until the day after Toukasan.
For bargains, shops in Sunmall are worth checking out, as is Don Quixote. If you’ll make a trip out to the burbs, Aeon has a highly navigable webpage showing off its retro designs with mix and match sets for under ¥15,000. Its TV commercial seems to be encouraging non-Japanese people to try out the kimono and liven up traditional bon dances at the same time.
Higher up the price ladder, SOGO has a special yukata promotion at the moment with more retro designs at about ¥30,000.
But the most striking designs we’ve some across so far are from brand Furifu which has a special pop up store on the 4th floor of PARCO.
Why not share your favorite shopping spots and dressing tips below.