Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Challenge 23: I think I'm turning Japanese


Today I had a few minutes before my Japanese class, so I stopped in a store that sells inexpensive clothing and accessories for young women. Its equivalent might be something like Forever 21 in the States.

That's where I spotted the yukata! 

Yukata are casual kimono-like robes that are worn in the summer here. Unlike kimono, they are cotton and machine-washable-- no intricate embroidery or fine silk-- they are cheap! Even better, the store was selling yukata sets (robe, obi, and shoes) for only 3900 yen (about $39).
So, my new thing of the day was-- you guessed it-- to buy a yukata.

My Japanese teacher told me yukata are worn on special days to festivals, fireworks shows, or temples. I asked her if anyone ever wears them out to dinner and she looked at me kind of funny, but then said it would be okay if I did since I'm obviously a foreigner and can do pretty much what I want with my yukata.

At first I questioned my purchase... do I really need it? When will I wear it? Is it practical? But then I remembered that this month of living dangerously is EXACTLY for decisions like this... in other words, when else in my life WILL I ever get to buy and wear a yukata?

So, I'm planning to wear my yukata in all kinds of situations here-- like the bridesmaid dress you always hope to wear again, only I'm really going to since I know I have a free pass as a wacky foreigner. 

Striking a typical Japanese model pose...

Hmm... do you think my feet are a little  big for these shoes? Some old Chinese emperor is horrified in his grave by my monstrous feet...


It should also be noted that had no idea how to get the robe on... there's some rule I think about whether to cross left over right or right over left, and I'm pretty sure I did it wrong. If you're in the know, please HELP!
 

So, a question for you... what's the most useless or impractical thing you bought in a foreign country? 

13 comments:

Chris and Amy said...

Very cute! What store did you go to? So far the most impulsive buy I've gone for on this island is our spotty, naughty dog! ;)

Carrie Stuart said...

Yes, Mary...you actually did it the wrong way (the burial of the dead way). How I know is it's exactly the way I did Coree's doll in a picture on our Japanese "American Girl Doll" blog...and I got it wrong, too. Oops, oh well...dolls are sort of dead, right? Don't tell my daughter I said that!

Carrie Stuart said...

You are rockin' that yukata, though!

Mishka said...

I have two used ones I bought at used kimono sales, and one I use as a bathrobe so I would never wear it outside but I hope to get all the parts for my second one so I can wear it to special things...I also have a real kimono that I need to get the rest of the parts to (it is antique and was really cheap).

Mary and Sean said...

Chris and Amy,
The store is called Shimashura and it's on the 23 next to the Apple Coop store. Do you know that area?

I'm hoping we can take a little dog back with us to the states too!

Mary and Sean said...

Carrie,
Yes, I knew that the way it gets folded had something to do with death...I have to remember that when I wear it out somewhere. Do you think there are online tutorials?

Mary and Sean said...

Mishka,
I'm also hoping to get a nicer one that could be worn at special events. I love all the accessories to it you can buy in nice department stores. Where did you find an antique one?

Harry said...

Hey you could wear it for Halloween. And if you wrap it right side over left (like in your photo), you could be a Japanese corpse - or Japanese Zombie!!! :)

Usually you put left side over right (so the left side is on top). Right side on top is for dead bodies.

What kind of Obi did you buy? Did it have one of those clip-on bows - or did you tie it yourself? I kind of miss wearing a kimono...

aviva5271 said...

I have to say, I'm really enjoying reading your blog and loving the challenges you're coming up with! You may not want to stop.

I'm a board member on OIWC - Okinawa International Womens' Club. I think it'd be a fabulous thing for you to consider joining (the welcome coffee will probably be in late August) as you get to have monthly luncheons and culture group meetings that really introduce you to so much more of the Japanese/Okinawan way of life. It's also a group that fundraises for local charities.

And at some luncheons, you can bring your kimono/yukata and the ladies will help you put it on the proper way! Another bonus. If you're interested, the OIWC website is http://www.freewebs.com/oiwc/

Just a thought - keep this going, I'm loving it!

Mary and Sean said...

Aviva,
Yes, I had been planning to join the OIWC this summer, so thanks for the info! It looks super fun, and I love how there are smaller culture groups to do things on a weekly basis, right?

aviva5271 said...

Well, once a month there's a luncheon (alternating Butler O'club/out in town), and once a month get-togethers with the culture group - of course it can be more if you want. I look forward to meeting you - LOVE your adventurous spirit!

sirath said...

There are quite a lot of good diagrams and videos out there on how to wear the yukata and tie the obi. (As well as the other things that should go underneath.)

I can't remember where I got them but there's a particularly good series where you are shown how to tie several styles of obi.

Mary R said...

Thanks Sirath for the recs... it would be good to see a proper tutorial

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