Leaf peeping in autumn is one of popular seasonal events for Japanese people along with “O-Hanami”, Cherry blossom viewing, in spring.
Especially, maple leaves with their color changed in red are very beautiful, so that, they are one of the most popular leaves in autumn.
Japanese people have loved nature and incorporated it into their lives since ancient times.
As you know, Kimono is one of the representatives.
Traditionally in Japan, you will be regarded as “Iki” (粋), meaning snappy, if you take the seasonal fashion in advance just before the beginning. But, if you wear Kimono with Sakura motif in autumn, you will be regarded as “Busui”(無粋), meaning clunky.
Maple leaf is very popular motif for Kimono and Obi as much as Sakura.
Maple leaf motif Nagoya-Obi
In general, motif of colored maple leaf is loved very much as a symbol of autumn, however, do you know there is a green or non-colored maple leaf motif for Kimono ?
You can wear Kimono with motif of green or non-colored maple leaves in “non-autumn” seasons.
Of course, winter is not the season because all the leaves fall down from the trees.
In that sense, from spring to early summer will be the good timing.
Maple leaf motif Komon Fabric
As mentioned earlier, Japanese have valued the seasonal sense, and not liked to take one non-seasonal item in the different season for long time.
Recently, however, emerging modern Yukata fabric tends to be free from the old traditional sense of value.
Usually, colored maple leaves are not used for the pattern of Yukata, that is worn in summer, because it is the symbol of autumn, but as you can see in the below picture, it is actually used now !
Maple leaf motif Yukata Fabric
Although, this may be unacceptable for senior Japanese people who adhere to traditional seasonal sense, changes like this could be one of the keys for younger generation to carry on the torch of Japanese cultures with which enjoying and developing.
Why women wear kimono or yukata these days ? Women who wear a kimono or a yukata, men who adore it and find it extremely sexy, or women who think about cosplaying in Japan oriented outfits.
Besides women’s dressing and makeup, their Kimono hairstyles also play important role in the enhancement of their persona and confidence. You can make a number of hairstyles to go with your Yukata, or Kimono. Although the hairstyle which was worn by the old traditional Japanese women is difficult to be made and no more in vogue these days but something similar to it is commonly made by Japanese women in today’s time.
Traditional Japanese Hairstyle
Hairstyle which suit with kimono and yukata outfits. Updo-hair which show the lines of the face shapely are most popular hairstyle. It may be good idea for adding some Japanese flavor to wear kanzashi hair accessories with. This type of hairstyles are very easy to make.
Modern Kimono/Yukata hairstyle
Modern Kimono/Yukata Hiarstyle
Do you want to try those hairstyle ? There are many websites which shows step by step instruction with images. Also, there are more than 50 videos which shows how to arrange various hairstyles for Yukata where you may find your favorite one. Click here to view the videos and try some !
Summer has come. Japan has four seasons and we enjoy the changing seasons. In summer, it is very hot and humid. Therefore Japanese has been devised ways of avoiding discomfort. Japanese summer goods appeal to our sence of eye, smell, hearing, touch and make us cool. Make you cool with Japanese traditional summer clothes, interior, wind bell sounds, or any other items we present here and discover the Japanese traditional wisdom.
1. Yukata - The Yukata is a casual light cotton kimono for wearing in summer. Yukatas normally have very brightly coloured designs on them. Japan is one of the few modern countries where the traditional dressing is still “trendy”. Today we wear Yukata and go to the traditional Bon-Odori, summer festivals and fireworks shows. The relative simply design of Yukata means Japanese women can, with some practice, put this kimono on unassisted.
During the Heian period (8 to 11th century), the nobles wore yukatabira (yu - bath and katabira - under clothing) after taking a bath. In time, the term shortened to yukata.
Later, the wariors also started to wear yukata, and during the Edo period, when the public baths become very popular, the yukata became widely worn by the public.
In the old times, before the air conditioning, the Japanese people developed traditional ways to help cooling off during hot summer days… One very interesting technique, still largely practiced, is the use of the traditional furin. It is usually made of glass, ceramic or metal. It has a clapper with a string and a rectangular card.
In Japan, the furin is a very popular item during summer and is usually hung from the eaves of a house or in front of the windows. The distinctive sound of the wind chime signifies a breeze, providing some psychological relief from the intensely hot and humid summer. These wind-bells give poetic charm to the Japanese summers. There is also a fancy strip of paper called tanzaku that hangs from the bell’s clapper. When a breeze comes, the tanzaku swings and causes the clapper to hit the bell. This results in the bell’s ringing.
3. Sensu (holding fan) & Uchiwa – The history of the fan is not at all clear-cut. When you think of how simple the basic idea is, a tool that is a bit more efficient than a hand waved in front of the face, it is obvious that the fan is likely one of those inventions that sprang up at around the same time in most civilizations on the earth – at least the ones in warmer climates. The fan that symbolized position, and expressed personality, however, the fan that was art, seems to have developed in the East.
One early form appeared in Kyoto, in the ninth century, when the cost of paper was prohibitive. Ordinary records and such were kept on thin slats of wood (the kind you might see today being burned as votive offerings in some Japanese temples). It seems that someone got the idea of binding a number of slats together at one end and running a string through them at the other, thus creating a crude, but effective sensu.
The uchiwa has become a symbol of the Japanese summer and can often be seen with its wooden or bamboo handle stuck into the sash at the back of a light cotton kimono or even a pair of jeans. They are often painted or printed with designs that suggest cooling breezes or streams, or the flowers of summer. Uchiwa are also a popular advertising handout in Japan. They are made, in that incarnation from paper or plastic, with more garish illustrations, and often a hole in the covering material in lieu of a handle.
4. Uchimizu （打ち水）- a typical Japanese traditional custom which consists in splashing water over the pavement in front of the stores, houses, shrines, temples or inside the Japanese gardens. Traditionally, uchimizu is done by using a bucket and a wooden ladle, by people dressed in the traditional yukata. An interesting detail is that the water used for uchimizu is not tap water, but recycled or rain water.
Now ? We use a little bit more technologies to survive the heat of summer. These are just a few examples of modern summer items.
1. Cool Mattress Pads- Japan sells these cooling pads to go on top of your mattress. It keeps you cool while you sleep. An alternative to this is to fill Hot Water Bottles with Ice Water, wrap them in cloth and put them in your bed. Nothing like a cool-refreshing sleep to leave you recharged and ready to go.
2. Aisunon (An ice scarf) – Japan sells these re-freezable ice packs (AISUNON or アイスノン) that fit inside of this cloth sleeve that goes around your neck. It does help quite bit.
3. Higasa (Anti UV parasol) - Anti-UV parasols from Japan are exquisitely beautiful yet practical products that provide protection from damaging ultraviolet radiation, relief from the hot sun, and protection from light rain showers. These parasols have been crafted using a stunning range of fabrics, styles, embroideries, lace and other intricate embellishments.
Can you imagine ever using a parasol as a form of sunblock? Parasol usage is far from exclusive to Japan; it’s prevalent all over Japan, a country where having milky skin has been hailed as the ultimate sign of beauty since who knows when.
Between July and September, there are firework displays in cities, towns and villages all over Japan. Fireworks (花火, Hanabi) have a long history in Japan and are an integral part of Japanese summers. Hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, with some of them drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The Japanese considered fireworks (hanabi) as “flowers of fire” – brilliant bursts in various forms and colors of poignant beauty. Like the splendid cherry blossoms’ brief existence, fireworks flash in all their pomp and glory for a fleeting moment only to vanish into thin air. Since fireworks displays have become such popular events, it’s common to see many people strolling in yukatas (cotton kimonos), drinking cold beer and carrying uchiwas (round-shaped fans) – everyone from the neighborhood turned up for the festivity on muggy summer nights.
Going to fireworks
Girls wearing Yukata
With the public’s obsession with fireworks, it’s not surprising that Japanese fireworks have evolved into an art of its own. The Japanese created the fabulous design of a three-dimensional global dispersion that resembles a chrysanthemum, one of the most elegant presentations in pyrotechnics. The firework shell is globular packed with several layers of different colors of powder to alter the hue of illumination while burning in the air. When the casing explodes, each star uniformly positioned around the core is strewn into space in equal distance from the center of the blast.
Fireworks with the state-of-the-art techniques are grabbing much attention nationwide. The special effects of starmine, a succession of launches for speed and rhythm, or the water-born fireworks, a fountain spraying out a shower of sparks, have added a new dimension to the art of pyrotechnics. Even more astounding, the daylight fireworks streak through the cloudless blue sky like lightning bolts in Technicolor. The popularity of creative firework designs has inspired replications of computer graphic designs of swirls and lines, as well as fueled patterns of familiar figures in an assortment of colors, such as, a butterfly, snail, hat, fish, and even a smiley face.
There is a contest of fireworks that we can see how amazing each firework is.
This past Sunday, the onsen in the mountainside was very pleasant. The mountains were still covered with snow.
Mountains at Kusatsu Onsen
Every Japanese loves Onsen. The onsen we went was Kusatsu, one of the most popular places for hot-spring, ‘onsen’, where more than 3 million people visit every year.
Kusatsu hot spring - Yubatake
Kusatsu, located in the northwest of Gunma Prefecture, has been a well-known, well-loved spa since its discovery in 1193. By the early 1600s, it had grown to be one of the largest spa-resorts in Japan with 68 inns.
Kusatsu hot spring - Yubatake
Onsen ryokan (Japanese Hotel) offers Yukata which is a traditional garment, similar in style to kimono, but lighter, much more casual, and made of cotton. We can wear Yukata at all times during our stay, including to the bath, to both dinner and breakfast, and to bed as sleepwear. (click here to see ‘how to wear Yukata’)
A pair of Yukata in our room
Yukata were prepared at our Ryokan as well. One was medium size and the other one was large size.
My friend wearing Yukata at dinner
Before dinner, we took onsen spa. This was our happiest moment during our trip.
The interior of ryokan was Japanese taste and this kind of atmosphere matched our wearing yukata.
Interior of our hotel at Kusatsu
Symbol of Kusatsu was the girl wearing yukata and this kind of character you can find at many other Onsen places.
Image character of Kusatsu Onsen
Onsen Ryokan is usually managed and operated by Okani, a woman who is a master and at the core of the existence of Ryokan. I found the poster which introduces the Okami of all ryokan at Kusatsu. They always wear Kimono nicely in front of customers.
A poster of Onsen Okami at Kusatsu
When we go to Onsen, both customer and master of hotel wear kimono. That is one of our tradition and I want you to experience onsen trip when you visit Japan. And then, you will realize why Japanese loves onsen so much !
KimoKame is a labor of love from a team of Japanese who want
to promote high-quality Japanese handmade products to the world.