Summer means so many things to me: watching fireworks, playing at the beach, eating fresh corn and watermelon, and wearing a yukata. A what? A yukata. You've probably seen them around. It's a sort of summer kimono, made of a lighter weight fabric than a traditional kimono, which is made from silk, and is often worn to watch fireworks and attend summer festivals at one's local shrine. 

This year, both my girls are in kindergarten, and one of the highlights of the year is the Obon Dance, which is held at school, but there are many public places where one can participate in dancing. Of course, the first year my big girl started kindergarten, I had to make her a yukata -- using nani IRO fabric, no less! She stood out mainly because it was so untraditional-looking, oops. Most yukata fabric is made from seersucker, and has summery motifs on it. Like this

The children practice for several weeks to perfect their dance moves, and it's rather cute the way my girls got into practicing at home. I ended up searching You Tube to find the music they were using at school. You can watch a version of an Obon Dance here. The one that my children danced to is the Doraemon one, which you can watch here. One amazing style of dance, which I came across during my search and which grew out of the Obon dance tradition, is the Awa Dance. If you ever find yourself in Tokushima Prefecture during the summer season, I highly recommend going to see it. You can watch a video of it here. Pretty spectacular, right? I mean, those hats are so fun!

By the time my older daughter's final year rolled around, I ran out of time to make another yukata, so I asked my friend if I could borrow the yukata that she made for her daughter. She also made hers using nani IRO fabric. And let me say, it is stunning. 

The girls tend to wear yukata (though of course boys can too!), but there is also the option to wear something called a jinbei, which is like a two-piece summer kimono set. I made one out of more traditional fabric, and I think it turned out okay for a first attempt.

Um, yes...about the shoes. With my girls and photos, I feel as though I'm always compromising on something. This time it was footwear. And please ignore that dangling thread that I obviously forgot to cut. Okay, I'll bet you can't unsee it now, right? Hahaha. I can't either. Sorry. 

You can see that this outfit afford the child more freedom to run around and dance in, so I personally think it is way more child-friendly, though a yukata is more attractive-looking. There are lots of different types now, with different anime characters printed on it or you can find ones with lots and lots of ruffles, if that's your kind of thing. You can see I opted for plain and simple. 

As you can see, I'm not ready to let summer go -- and fortunately (??) for me, it looks as though it will continue to be hot and humid here for a few more weeks. I hope you enjoyed seeing my take on traditional Japanese outfits (and my friend's beautiful one), and if you are feeling inspired to do some Japanese sewing yourself, you can still join Sew Japan with Mie

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