浴衣 are light weight and casual traditional clothing that are used as an alternative to the thicker and heavier 着物. They were first used as a simple piece of clothing that you could wear when travelling from your house to a bath house. Nowadays they have many uses, especially for outdoor festivals or events and when at a 旅館. Typically, the younger you are the more bright and colourful your 浴衣 can be while older 浴衣 wearers will lean towards more geometric patterns and darker colours.
Careers in Language has 18 adult 浴衣 sets available for hire. Contact us if you’d like to borrow them for a school event or lesson plan. You can also try them on for free at our Careers in Language Fair!
The 浴衣 that we have available have pre-made bows so you don’t need to worry about tying the 帯 (おび) but here is a video on how to tie one:
Historical and social impact of 浴衣
Sadly, the strict and traditional nature of 着物 is part of the reason why the industry is dying. Younger people in Japan avoid going to 着物 lessons meaning they’re unable to dress themselves. A 着物 can also cost up to $10,000 for a single set, and decorations just add to the price, the帯 is often one of the most expensive pieces. 着物 rental shops are becoming a more convenient way to prepare for formal events and also means you don’t have to worry about caring for delicate materials that end up in storage for years at a time. Some of the most formal versions of the 着物 can weigh up to 20kg!
On the other hand, 浴衣 are not bound by so many rules (like having to wear certain colours or patterns depending on your age, marital status, even the time of the year) and it’s easy to put on by yourself. Not to mention if you drop food on it, it’s not such a big deal! It’s acceptable for 浴衣 patterns and designs to change, so it’s possible for them to stay up to date with fashion trends, so they’re a lot more fun. You can find some pretty wild designs these days, including anime characters, movie themes, and neon unicorns. The 浴衣 industry is actually growing unlike 着物.
着物 have come to represent extremely formal events (if you’re a regular person and not a tea ceremony MC or something) like weddings or funerals. 浴衣 on the other hand are seen as ‘fun’ and exciting. They do still follow some rules – the left side folds over the right side, the hem should be ankle high, and the prettiest collars have a fist width between the back of the neck and the fabric – but in terms of design they’re quite free!
単語 / Vocabulary
|下駄||げた||Informal wooden sandals|
|帯締め||おびじめ||Decorative cord around the obi|
|帯留め||おびどめ||Decorative pendant or charm attached to 帯締め|
|結ぶ||むすぶ||To tie (the obi)|
|履く||はく||To wear (shoes)|
|袴||はかま||Bottom outer layer, looks like wide-leg trousers|
|羽織||はおり||Formal outer layer jacket|
|法被||はっぴ||Casual outer layer jacket|
In Class Activity
For younger grades, or classes with students that are especially interested in design, use the following templates for colouring-in: