Wow! It’s already July! I can’t believe how fast time is going by – only a couple of months left until I go home (like 9 weeks!) :O
The summer season in Japan not only brings a lot of mosquitoes, but also many festivities, such as firework displays (Hanabi), and various other matsuri such as Tanabata (Star Festival). The traditional clothing worn to such events is called a Yukata, a more casual and lighter version of a kimono.
Similar to the Halloween Party, if there is an event, I like making the effort to look the part. We had a World Cup party at the dormitory last week and the dress code was Football Uniform so I wore a Brazil t-shirt, shorts and football socks. If I’m going to a Hanabi event or a matsuri, I have to wear a yukata!
So this morning I set off for Harajuku in search of a yukata. I had done some research online and I settled for Harajuku as I read that there are lot of kimono shops that sell yukata around there. It’s a very quirky area that has a real mixture of shops, from expensive brands like Ralph Lauren to second hand/vintage ones. My friend Jamie recommended Oriental Bazaar, which is a very touristy shop in Harajuku that sells a lot of souvenirs. I did have a look there and they did have yukatas but the designs were all the same and they didn’t really appeal to me.
I was on the look out for more “original” yukata, whether it was second hand or new. Personally, I wanted a second hand yukata as not only are they sometimes cheaper but I feel that the designs might be more unique as it’ll be the only one of its kind since it’ll be kinda old and it won’t be a newly mass produced item.
My shopping prayers were answered in the form of a shop called Chicago. A very ironic name for a shop where I found a secret treasure trove full of used kimono and yukata.
Chicago is a shop that specialises in vintage clothing from all over the world, in particular from the US and Europe. In this branch, they have a pretty extensive kimono range with all the necessary accessories available for purchase. It’s actually a lot closer to Harajuku JR station than I thought – literally only a 5 minute walk.
I spent SO long in this shop.
They have so many yukatas and a whole rainbow of obi (belts) to choose from. First I had to pick which yukata I wanted, then pick a belt to go with it.
I asked several other customers, who were also looking at yukata, which one they think suited me best, and which belt went well with the yukata. I felt like I was on one of those make-over programs on tv!
I think the shop gets a lot of foreign customers as they had this leaflet holder next to the yukata clothing rail, which had instructions on how to wear a yukata and tie the obi. Great idea! I definitely took one of the leaflets.
I finally decided on this beautiful navy yukata with a floral print, and this really flashy red and yellow obi. I think the red/yellow obi goes well with the yukata as it compliments the red/yellow flowers.
Happy with my decision, my shopping trip got even better when I found out that the shop is currently doing a Yukata Fair, which meant a 20% discount!!
I was a very happy bunny indeed!
So all in all I paid 3822 yen for a yukata, obi, and this extra white belt which you’re supposed to tie around your waist first before tying the obi.
After that, I continued to walk around Harajuku and bought a dress from Tokyu Plaza. It was so tempting to buy more clothes, but I had to remind myself that I don’t have that much money left (oops!) and that I only have one suitcase to take back all my things.
On my way back to the station, I stopped by Meiji Jingu and said a prayer. Actually, I just went there because the rain had stopped and I wanted to see if they had any Tanabata decorations up, but they didn’t. Since I walked all the way to the shrine I decided to throw a 5 yen coin, clap and pray that I’ll pass my JLPT exam tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Hopefully one of my next blog posts will be on a festival and you’ll see my yukata in action! I only have a month left of university so I have to juggle final exams with final farewell parties – I’m getting a bit nervous!
Thanks for reading!!