Yukata are Japanese summer kimono: light, bright, unlined and hopefully stain resistant considering that all the festivals a yukata is worn to include delicious, greasy festival food.
Hikone is a beautiful town, and the streets nearby the castle have been preserved as a slice of older Japan, mainly to give a lovely atmosphere for visiting tourists and souvenir shoppers. On July 28th however (the same weekend as Birdman) city folk were encouraged to dress their best and “stroll through the nostalgic castle town”.
Women’s yukata come in many different patterns. The grandmother and child in the first photo are dressed in very traditional sakura (cherry blossom) print, and the grandmother’s small bag is the very Japanese rabbit print.
Meanwhile, the high school girls below them sport neon butterflies and bright flower prints. For the even less traditional, everything from pirate skulls to watermelon print yukata can be found.
I realise I haven’t provided any photos of (adult) male yukata, which is because I usually don’t photograph them. Boy yukata tend to be more pajama-y in appearance, though there are the full length style mirroring the women. The diversity and brilliance of pattern just doesn’t exist in male yukata though, which are typically and traditionally brown, blue or black colours.
Many gaijin (non-Japanese) get into the festival spirit too, and clamp around in their wooden geta. Unlike my slack self, whose wardrobe is bare of native garb, a local JET named Erica not only owns boxes of kimono related finery, but has taken classes in dressing, and how to dress others, in the notoriously tricky garments.
August are the school summer holidays for Japanese school students, though unlike America the school year here begins and ends in April. Teachers on the JET programme however mark their contracts from August, and the last few weeks have seen many teachers leaving and their replacements arriving: hitting the humidity, wandering randomly into the most awesome festivals they’ve ever seen which they will never ever manage to find again (and no one will seem to know what they’re talking about), and amongst it all, hopefully falling in love with and buying their first yukata.