Antique Japanese Textiles

Japanese Vintage Happi Coat | 1940s Japanese Straight Sleeved Jacket


Age:1940-1945

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: Gentleman’s medium; Shoulder to Shoulder: 24.0”; Sleeve Length: 12-1/2”; Length: 33-0”

Happi (Hapi) coats have graphically evolved over time. This is a vintage medium weight, 3/4 length, 100% cotton, Indigo Happi coat, (a resist dye technique known as “tsutsugaki”), and is constructed from selected quality handmade smooth cotton fabric. The dying allows for a variegated (aged) indigo coloring and dyed with expert skill. The exceptional graphics on both the lower portion of the front and back of the coat is referred to as a “modified saya-gata” pattern, and the characters on the upper back and lapels represent a family or company name. These graphics adding visual dimension and are typical for the times indicating that the garment has a special purpose. The Happi coat is a classic and traditionally worn by tradesmen and has become better associated with matsuri (festivals) celebrating the past. Happi coats have supported the everyday life experiences of the Japanese people since the 17th century, and a symbol of Japanese heritage, (i.e., samurai clans). 

The theory suggests that the graphic design of Happi coats can be described as inspired by three distinct elements: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. These three elements are believed to be more measurable and definitive than happiness from which the name, (Hapi or Happi) is based. The Saya-gata design pattern of an interlocking swastika,(left-facing and horizontal) is used to mark the location of a Buddhist temple. In an early Edo period, it was commonly used on figured satin and combined with designs that featured chrysanthemums, plum blossoms, bamboo, or orchids.

Condition: Very good condition for its age with light wear and fading throughout. The slight fading which is preferred for it enhances the color dye after years of use to become a one-of-a-kind item, and inseparable from the lives of their users, and retains its striking appearance. It is a vintage clean garment with no fabric wear, no holes, no torn elements, or loose threads with strong seams.