This Question Came to My Inbox: What is the difference between a kimono, a yukata, and a gi?

I have worn them all, so this is the right place to come. I even know how to tie the obi, the belt worn with the kimono. There are two yukatas hanging in my closet right now. My daughter has a kimono and a yukata, and I have been known to give out yukatas as gifts. I will probably give you all the information you need plus.

These kimonos look like the expensive kind. The belts they are wearing are called obis, and there is more than one way to tie them. The shoes they are wearing are called zori, except, I think the one on the right may be wearing wooden geta. They are wearing white socks that separated between the big toe and the second toe because the top of the geta and zori are like flip flops. From the color of the kimonos, I know they are young. Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on Pexels.com

A Kimono is the silk kimono we are all familiar with. It is pretty and expensive. It is only worn on special occasions like weddings or to the temple on New Year’s. Traditionally, the younger women wear the kimonos that are of lighter or brighter colors. The older women wear the black, dark blue, or dark purple kimonos. The men actually usually wear a kind of black suit with huge legs when the women wear the kimonos. The word “kimono” actually means “wearing thing,” so theoretically, the Japanese could technically call anything they wear “kimono.”

This girl is wearing a bright cotton yukata. It is cooler in the summer. She is carrying a fan too, so it must be summer. The color she is wearing is only for young women. In Japan, they don’t try to match the obi to the kimono or yukata. They consider that each item of clothing has its own personality, so they don’t try to match any clothes. Photo by Quốc Bảo on Pexels.com

As for the yukata, it is a cotton kimono that is much less expensive. The traditional yukata has navy blue or black patterns on it. The patterns may be flowers. They may be dragons or fish. There are less traditional yukatas that have bright flowers on them for the young girls. Men and women both wear yukatas. They are called “summer kimonos” because they are cooler than the regular kimono. When the Japanese practice things like Japanese dance or rehearse for Kabuki, they wear these. they also wear them at home like a robe.

This person is wearing the keikogi or the “gi.” Some are black, some are white, and I have even seen them in other colors. I have even seen them with shorts instead of long pants. I have three kids who did karate and one who did taekwondo from Korea, and one who did karate also did gumdo from Korea, the ancient art of sword fighting on horseback. I had a friend in Japan who did kendo, the ancient art of hitting one another with sticks that were probably swords at one time too. She didn’t wear this. She wore the men’s black outfit with the big legs with armor and a face mask where she could only look through a grill. . The outfits are similar. Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com

As for the gi, “gi” is short for “keikogi.” A keikogi is the outfit that looks like pajamas they wear when they do martial arts. When I was a student in Japan, this is the kind of gift they gave the American guys while they gave me a yukata and a honten.

The basic kimono here is black, so this lady conideres herself older, and not a young girl anymore. Photo by istlife on Pexels.com

A honten is a kind of Japanese jacket. It is made like a short kimono, but it doesn’t need the obi, the Japanese belt. I used to wear it with my blue jeans.

This is another young women in a kimono wearing zori. Photo by Mat Kedzia on Pexels.com

We, my young Japanese friends and I, also used to wear geta and zori. They are types of Japanese shoes. I had a pair of plain wooden geta I wore with my blue jeans, and so did many young Japanese. The geta are wooden shoes up on a platform. The top look like flip flops, but there is no rubber to them. Your food is flat against a piece of wood, and the part that goes between your toes is covered with velvet. If the geta are black lacquered, they are considered fancy, and they wear those with their kimonos. The zori are also a kind of sandals. They aren’t wooden, but often are covered with satin. They are fancy shoes that are worn with the kimono also. They oven slope into a heel in the back, and the top of them are also make in a form like flip flops. Japanese always have trouble with the rain, so they wear the geta if it rains, and if it rains too much, there are covers you can put over the toes of your geta. One of my Japanese friends did a drawing of a guy that had a tennis shoe on one foot and a geta on the other, and he called him a “Japerican.”

I have given you more than you asked for, but since you asked about Japanese clothes, I thought you might like the extra information too.

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