When wearing either a yukata or a kimono, what etiquette, if any, is there about where the knot goes? Do only sex workers (whose work is illegal nowadays in Japan) deliberately wear a knot in front of them?

Wikivoyage informs users not to wear right over left with their yukatas, as that's associated with the dead, but doesn't have anything about knots.

Wikipedia says that bows in the front of a yukata represents a sex worker, but doesn't have any citations backing it up.

This guide has a knot just off-centre in front of the person, while this guide has a knot behind the person.

  • 1
    A kimono is to a yukata what tea ceremony is to your morning tea. Completely different things that really shouldn't be lumped together.
    – fkraiem
    Oct 31, 2016 at 14:53
  • There isn't any concrete rules about where to wear the knot. It is basically personal choice. When staying at a hotel / Ryokan, most people tie the knot of the provided Yukata at the front (and I am pretty sure that most customers aren't prostitutes) as it is easier to take off when going to the Onsen / Sento (some people however still wear it at the back). However when wearing a Yukata to say, a summer festival, it is most commonly worn at the back, with modernising fashion senses slowing changing this norm. Nov 1, 2016 at 4:27
  • Further, prostitution in Japan whilst "illegal", still happens on a large scale (and is usually disguised lightly by calling it something else). Most "houses of the night" don't usually have their female purveyors in Yukata / Kimono [citation unavailable]. Kimono on the other hand, are different in use to Yukata, mainly because of the meaning behind every piece of the Kimono (the sleeve length, designs, knot style, accessories, make-up etc.) which are used to declare status and marital availability of the wearer. In that sense, Kimono knot locations may give credence to your claim. Nov 1, 2016 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


The first guide you cited shows a very simple yukata that you get at hotels and ryokans. It has little pieces of cloth attached to it to make it easy to secure it even without a belt (obi). Without a belt, you would typically just wear it inside, like a bathrobe or a pyjama.

The second guide shows how it's done with an obi, and there the knot (or bow) goes behind the back. This is for females however. Men wear a very plain obi, and it's positioned at the hips, much lower than for women. As it's much plainer and thinner and the knot isn't as big, I think I've seen people wear it at all kinds of positions, but typically it also goes in the back, just do an image search for "yukata men" to get a feeling.

I've never seen a woman wear the bow in front, and this would be really impractical. The wikipedia article says "historically", so I don't think it's being done any more.

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