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Goin’ Japanesque!

7 Nostalgic Japanese Winter Gear

During times such as the Edo and/or Showa-period, when technology was less advanced, there were several popular items used to keep warm during the cold Japanese winters. Unfortunately with the passing of time and technological advancements, some are barely seen in today’s world. In this article we will be introducing a few of those items that are recognizable to any Japanese person even today. We hope you can experience some of the ‘old Japan’ with us. Photo


1. Hanten


A piece of traditional Japanese clothing worn amongst the commoners starting in the Edo-period. It was primarily used as an indoor coat. They are extremely warm, and are frequently found in patterns reminiscent of Japan.


2. Tabi


While tabi is basically just socks for traditional Japanese wear, such as a kimono, it is also effective in protecting against the cold because of the material it is made out of.


3. Zukin Hood

While everyone around the world uses hoods, during the Japanese Edo-period there was a style called “okoso zukin”, which is a hood shaped similar to a shirt sleeve.


4. Haramaki

Otoko wa tsurai yo

A haramaki is a piece of clothing that keeps your stomach warm. It is basically a tummy warmer. In old tv shows from the Showa-period, some would be seen wearing them even in the summertime. We suspect it was part of the fashion at the time. You also can witness many wearing a haramaki at Japanese street festivals. Another similar item would be a “sarashi”, which is a wrap made out of traditional Japanese cloth.


5. Kotatsu

A Japanese-style heating table called a kotatsu, that evolved from the idea of a hearth.


6. Yutanpo

Yutanpo is a hot water bottle, where you fill a container with hot water and place it under your comforter and such to warm the body.


7. Kairo

This is a disposable heating pad, which has become a modern day pocket heater for surviving harsh winters. This kairo product actually originated in Japan. It is designed so that when you rub/move around the packet, it exposes the iron powder inside to oxygen. This oxidation process produces heat, which is then used to warm your body. It is said that the creation of the kairo stems from a Japanese tradition, where people would carry a heated stone called “onjaku” in their pockets.

They have also now come out with a newer sticker version, so that you can heat any spot on your body easily, including your stomach and/or back. If you stick one on the bottom of your feet, you can even keep your shoes warm. 


Items such as the hanten and/or kotatsu have become a staple piece that automatically makes you think of a Japanese New Year.

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