Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Yukata" Be Kidding

When someone thinks of Japan, a geisha or kimono are some of the first images to come to mind. When people found out we were moving here I was asked more than once, "So are you going to buy a kimono?" Up until a couple of weeks ago I entertained the idea, then I found out how much they cost! And they're usually only worn once, and only to formal events. Think about it ladies, do we really want to wear the same dress to the Submarine Birthday Ball or Navy Ball as our husbands change duty stations? Heck no! We want to buy a new dress!!! Same idea here.

So in researching and talking to my friend, Lauren, I learned that a yukata is a more reasonable idea, and even more reasonable is the price tag. A yukata is a lightweight cotton kimono which is worn by men, women (mostly) and children in the summer time. There are two types of yukata: plain robes that are worn as casual wear or pajamas at Japanese style inns (ryokan) and hot springs (onsen), and fancier yukata that are worn during summer festivals and fireworks displays. Wearing a yukata is a comfortable way to beat the summer heat, and enjoy the traditional Japanese festival atmosphere throughout the summer. There's a sash for casual indoor wear, or a decorative obi for out in public. They're typically worn with Japanese sandals (geta or zori), and many women will carry a matching fan or purse (kinchaku). Yukata has a lot of kind of pattern, so some girls buy it every year. It is Japanese girls’ dream that going to see fireworks wearing Yukata with her boyfriend.

This morning I told the girls we were going shopping and buying yukatas for them. Sydney immediately comes back with, "I kata and Keanna kata and you kata too?" I explained that a yukata is the type of dress, and that it's a yukata for everyone. Not "I kata, Keanna kata or Me kata."

Now getting back to buying it...The sizes they had for kids were 110 and 120. That was pretty much the only thing I understood since the lable was mostly Japanese. A woman was looking at them next to me and I asked if she spoke English. She said 'small.' Not too comfortable, but I had a bit of hope that she could help me out. I took Keanna pointed to her, the "120" on the label and asked "too big, too small?" She had no idea what I asked, so I made 'big' and 'little' with my hands. To someone looking
at but not hearing us, they probably thought I was talking about fishing and how big my last catch was!

Anyway, she pointed to her daughter who looked to be 6 or 7, then pointed to another one that was 120 sized. So I said 'Arigato gozaimasu' (thank you very much) and the girls said 'Arigato' too. I think it was safe to assume that her daughter wears the 120. At that point I knew I wanted the 110, and figured Sydney would be swimming in hers. They each picked out their own out of five or six color and print choices. I got them home and tried them on, and sure enough Sydney was drowning! Keanna's is a little big, but she'll grow into it. I can take Sydney's up with a loose hem, so that's not a big deal. It's big in the top too, so I'm going to try to tack it under the arms. We'll see how that works out!

I bought a yukata for myself too, and before I post this entry I'll have Keanna take a picture of me. Please keep in mind it's about 8:15 pm and we were outside in the wind today! I'm having a funky hair day and my hair's doing this weird flip thing, so you'll have to ignore that. I bought them at a store called Uniqlo which is on the second floor of Homes for you local readers.

We had been once before with Bob, but when we went we missed the turn, had to go around the block, cross the barrier, etc. It was a nightmare! Today it was just me driving and navigating, so I was a bit nervous. I found myself talking to myself, and it reminded me of driving in the car with my mother-in-law. I remembered a time when we were in Annapolis and I was the 16 year old girlfriend tagging along with 'The Fam' to visit Bob at USNA. We were looking for Riva Road or trying to figure out which exit it was off of Rt 50...something like that. Another thing that popped into my head was driving home from Stonington with her and my brother-in-law, Chris. We had just left a Naval Academy Parents' Club of Connecticut meeting at someone's house in Stonington. Sitting in the passenger seat I was listening to her, Marty, navigate out loud to herself. So Marty, I adopted one of your qualities today, and whatta ya know, it worked?!

Now my task is to learn to tie the obi. It's not just a bow, so it'll take some practice. I really bought these for the girls for dress up play though. Most girls in the U.S. have their princess dresses, and Keanna and Sydney do too. But not many girls in the States can say they play dress up in their yukata!


Kelipso said...

Curtis thinks kimonos are sexy. He wants me to get one. WHERE in the world would I wear it?! LOL

The Fromilles said...

So informative! The girls (and you) look adorable! Did you get Bob one? hehe:)

Ron/Lisa said...

Remember Disney a few years back? You and Lisa either tried them on or looked at them? That was a good trip. I/we need a time machine for Christs' sake!


Jackie said...

I love your blog! I about died laughing reading about the toilets/bidets...! I need to send you an email (more private) about the change of command ceremony coming up... ;-)Guess who's in charge? Yup...Hubby.

David & Mayumi said...


I hope you and the girls get to go see some fireworks this July. The show at Zushi-beach is really good. Kurihama, at the end of the JR line, has another great display.