I went to the  lantern festival  in Asakusa for the first time. It was also my first time that I get to wear a yukata, a traditional Japa...

I went to the lantern festival in Asakusa for the first time. It was also my first time that I get to wear a yukata, a traditional Japanese clothing. I guess the most common thought I hear is: what is the difference between a yukata and a kimono? I am by far no expert, but let me share some differences with you based on what I have observed, and what I learned from my Japanese friends.

First of all, Yes, there is a difference between a yukata and a kimono; several actually.

MATERIAL. A yukata is usually made of light and airy fabrics such as linen or cotton, ideally for the warmer seasons. Kimonos however, are not only more elaborate in their designs, but also in their choice of materials including silk, brocade, satin in addition to cotton. Regardless if hand-sewn or machine-made, kimonos always involve a lot of hand-stitched details and patterns, which by the way all carry a certain term. You could wear a kimono during all seasons hence woolen kimonos for the winter. Both, yukata and kimono come in various designs, patterns and colours though!

OCCASION.  Due to it's material it is quite common to wear a yukata when going to a summer festival as it is said to be more breezy and cooling. You will also be handed a yukata when staying at a Japanese traditional inn ryokan or visiting a public bath. Contrary, a kimono is destined for more festive and formal events such as a wedding or other special occasions.

PRICE. You can buy a new yukata for 25EUR whereas I have seen kimonos at second hand stores for 100EUR (and I am not talking about the kimono you can get at an H&M). If you are in Harajuku, there is a second hand stand right at the crossing in front of Tokyu Plaza that also sells kimonos for less. If you find a really cheap one chances are that it is not authentic made in Japan or it's a cheap fabric. The art of making a kimono is considered a craftsmanship, so a new hand-made and designed kimono can easily cost several thousands to ten thousands of EUR.

PARTS. I actually got to film how I put on my yukata [stay tuned for my next video on my YouTube channel]. Trust me, IT WAS NOT EASY. It took longer than expected to put together a 3 piece yukata, but with the help of several YouTube tutorial videos and two extra helping hands (thank you, Steph), we are now pros. Just kidding. My friend wore a very elegant white traditional kimono on her wedding, and she looked super pretty! During the ceremony however she needed a personal assistant to help her adjust the many layers whenever she wanted to sit or move around.

Toro Nagashi (toro stands for "lantern" and nagashi means "flow") hence paper lantern festival is held in August in Tokyo, Asakusa. You can purchase a paper lantern at the festival site, and write down your wishes and prayers before releasing it into the water. I was told that it is a form of paying respect to those who have passed away and to guide their souls to the other world based on the Japanese belief that humans are originated from the water and are now returning.
The festival takes place at the Sumida river right across the Asahi Beer Hall or Flamme d'Or. Next to it is the Asahi Breweries headquarter which during daytime is supposed to look like a glass of golden beer with white foam.
The Asahi Beer Hall is a famous modern architecture designed by French designer Philippe Starck. The building itself is a shiny black granite form with a flat roof. Nothing particularly special you could say but it earned itself many nicknames due to the golden flame on top of it. For some people it looks just like that, a golden flame but many call it 金のうんこ (golden turd) as it is said to resemble the form of a poop. Honestly, to me it looks like a flame or if I need to be extra creative, a daikon (Japanese radish). If you know about Philippe Starck and his work, actually many of his designs carry a certain curve or flame. Just think of his shoe collaboration with Puma. He is also the designer of the famous citrus juicer that looks just like an evil spider alien to me (speaking of imagination). What does it look like to you? - golden turd? golden flame? or newest addition: golden radish?

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