My first Summer in Fukushima – I remember it pretty vividly. The incredible humidity and heat, my somewhat nervous but excited colleagues on my first day of work, the fireworks, and the yukata.
It was sometime at the beginning of Summer in August when I moved to Fukushima. The area where I lived at prided itself as “The Kingdom of Fireworks.” And what better way to watch a fireworks display than to slip on a yukata and quench your thirst with some ice-cold beer?
I told my boss one day, while the whole town was preparing for the annual summer festival, that I had an interest in yukata and how I wanted to try wearing one someday.
“Ah, is that so?”
Imagine an old man sporting a goatee speaking in the strongest Tohoku accent and continued to do his work. I shrugged it off and continued with my own work, thinking he did not have time to deal with me.
The next day, to my surprise, he brought his mother with an array of yukata! His mother asked me to pick some and helped me get into one whilst telling me about the yukata.
Did you know?
- The word “yukata” comes from “yu” meaning “bath,” and “katabira” meaning “under clothing,” and it was used in the Heian era initially as a bathrobe, but now is used commonly during summer and when visiting onsen (hot spring).
- The traditional colour of the yukata is mainly indigo, but now newer designs use brighter colours, which younger people wear.
- Always drape the yukata left over right unless you are dead. (we would not want to make this mistake now would we!)
- The wide sleeves are used as makeshift pockets every now and then. (a hack for all women and men if you are not carrying a bag)
This experience not only made me appreciate this beautiful piece of tradition more but my heart was also touched by my bosses kindness. I was only here for a week and he was already treating me so nicely.
There are many times when people say they are unable to grasp the sincerity of a person. However, this experience was one of the times when I personally received genuine care from someone I could call only an acquaintance. At that point in time – Now, he goes by Papa Genju. This experience is how my love for this country, culture, and people has deepened. Each day it only grows stronger.
Check out STAY JAPAN to book a stay in Fukushima and enjoy the same experience as Alex!