Happi coat

Summer is happi coat time in Japan.

A happi coat is a short and loose cotton jacket with wide sleeves that usually has a mon or crest on the back. Happi coats were originally worn by servants, and carried the crest of the family they worked for. Firefighters also wore a kind of padded happy coat for protection. Today happi coats are often worn to summer festivals, and identify the wearers as members of a club or neighborhood association. Sometimes you see waiters wearing them, too.

Happi coatThis happi coat hashioki is decorated with a tomoe, a traditional Japanese abstract swirl that appear to incorporte magatama, comma-shaped beads that date to the prehistoric era in Japan.

Unfortunately a happi coat is not guaranteed to make you happy. “Happi” is actually the pronunciation for the two kanji used to write the name of the garment. There are two ways to write the word, both using two kanji characters. In one the first kanji signifies “half,” while in the other the kanji signifies “method or system.” In both versions the second kanji is the same, and means “shelter or wear.”

Of course wearing a happi coat might make you happy…..




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