Unraveling the History of Sukajan - Kanagawa Yokosuka

Unraveling the History of Sukajan - Kanagawa Yokosuka

“Sukajan” is still popular as a fashion item.

Sukajan is a fashion item made of shiny fabric with flashy embroidery.
Efforts are being made locally to unravel the history of the Skajan jacket, which was born in Yokosuka City just after the end of the war.

The history of Sukajan, which was born as a souvenir

Mr. Chiyoshi Ippon (left) and Mr. Hiromi Yokochi (right)

Sukajan came to be called ``Sukajan,'' a combination of ``Suka'' from Yokosuka and ``Jan'' from jumper.
Mr. Hitomoto, who runs a local shop specializing in sukajan jackets, and Mr. Yokochi, who designs patterns for sukajan jackets. The two started a research group three years ago to investigate the origins of Sukajan.

Chiyoshi Ippon: I don't think there have ever been clothes with such
bold embroidery, such as eagles, tigers, and dragons .

Dobuita Street around 1962

Skajans were born on Dobuita Street in the center of Yokosuka City just after the end of the war, and are said to have started as popular ``souvenirs'' with flashy embroidery for American soldiers.

According to the owner of the store, which has been in business since just after the end of the war, it is likely a combination of the stadium jumper design, which is popular among Americans, with flashy embroidery.

I think that because it was a souvenir from Yokochi Hiromi Tomo
, they decided to create something that was so flashy and had an unusual shape for Japanese people at the time, and I think they were able to do so with the kind of flexible thinking that was typical of that time. think.

The reason for its popularity is Japan's advanced embroidery techniques! ? 

After the end of the war, Yokochi began collecting embroidered souvenirs that were sold around the world.

While searching for connections with skajans, we discovered that many of them were made in Japan.

Cushion Cover

This is a cushion cover from the 1950s and 1960s.

It was sold on an island in the Caribbean. Why was it made in Japan? Yokochi says that Japan's high level of embroidery technology has something to do with it.

Mr. Yokochi

I think (Americans) have probably never seen something so intricately embroidered.
I thought that if I sold this overseas, I would be able to make a profit because of the wonderful technology.

Horizontal embroidery

Skajans use the same horizontal embroidery technique used for these souvenirs.

This method allows the needle of the sewing machine to move left and right, freely moving the fabric while sewing. The direction and density of the threads can be finely adjusted, allowing craftsmen to express three-dimensionality and shadows.

Mr. Yokochi

Skajans made in Japan have the most detailed patterns, wide embroidery, and ingenuity. As a result, I think this is the reason why skajans still exist in the world.

I want to tell you the history of Sukajan!

Yokosuka Museum of Art

Local museums also took notice of the history researched by the two members of the study group.

This fall, we have decided to hold a large-scale exhibition of Sukajan. The idea is to capture the sukajan as a souvenir from around the world and pass on to future generations the beauty of the patterns that are unique to horizontal embroidery.

Ryo Kuribayashi, Curator, Yokosuka Museum of Art
: After all, I think the biggest charm lies in the embroidery . By learning how the embroidery is done, we hope to create an exhibition that will make sukajan even more enjoyable and give you a sense of its diverse charm.

The Sukajan exhibition will be held at the Yokosuka Museum of Art from November 19, 2022.

History of Sukajan


``Sukajan'' is a jacket created by American soldiers stationed in Japan shortly after the war, to commemorate the occasion by embroidering oriental patterns (eagles, tigers, dragons) and the unit or base they belonged to on their jackets. That's how it started.
Afterwards, Skajans were commercialized as souvenirs and sold at shops (PX) at military bases around the country.

At that time, Minato Shokai, the predecessor of Toyo Enterprises, was delivering clothing such as this Sukajan to US military bases, and in the 1950s, at the peak of Sukajan production, it accounted for 95% of the total deliveries. It was enough to make up for the majority of the population.
In addition, the clothing that Kosho delivered included aloha shirts, but the patterns also included oriental patterns with motifs of "eagles, tigers, and dragons," such as sukajans and aloha shirts. It can be seen that these are clothing items that use oriental designs unique to Japan.


Many years have passed since ``clothes'' were introduced to Japan, but if there is one thing that makes people say, ``These are clothes made by Japanese,'' when you go to America or Europe, it is this. Isn't it "Sukajan"? This jumper is embroidered with motifs of oriental symbols such as eagles, tigers, and dragons.

Sukajan was born right after the end of the Pacific War, when people were defeated and exhausted. The fact that there were almost no supplies at all, and people had to survive by using their wits to survive on a daily basis, led to the prosperity of modern Japan.

At a time when people were forced to procure food on the black market, the value of currency fell due to inflation, and the economic cycle between Japanese people was no longer sufficient. However, there were many people other than Japanese who had ``haves'' and ``spent money.'' He is an American soldier who came to Japan as part of the Occupation Forces. The winners came to Japan and made a lot of money. Naturally, many people noticed this. All of the stores that catered to American soldiers were thriving. Those who were unable to open their own shops sold what little household belongings remained from the burnt areas.

At that time, many stalls were lined up in the Ginza area of ​​Tokyo. There were items lined up that American soldiers would want as souvenirs. For example, hina dolls were popular. Even the ones with the neck missing remained a favorite among Americans and sold like hotcakes. Eventually, some people began to take note of this situation and started making and selling their own items that were popular as souvenirs. What can be sold here? An alternative to hina dolls with clothes that are familiar to American soldiers. It is modeled after a baseball jacket and sold with flashy embroidery that would appeal to the players. The fabric used was rayon, which was relatively easy to obtain outside of material control, and the embroidery was done by craftsmen in Kiryu and Ashikaga who had been embroidering kimono and Japanese accessories, and they embroidered eagles, tigers, dragons, etc. Ta.

At first, they brought it little by little to street stalls and sold it to American soldiers under the guise that it was made of silk. This is a time when everything is chaotic. Even if it was rayon, it was a time when if you said silk, it would just be silk. This jacket became so popular that it sold out quickly if it was put on display, and was called the ``Eagle Tiger Dragon Embroidery Jumper.''
It was PX that caught the eye of this jumper, which eventually became popular in the Ginza area. These jumpers sold from street vendors are now delivered all at once to PXs located at bases all over the country.

Looking at the delivery slip from that time, the name was clearly attached to this jumper. "SOUVENIR JACKET". This was the birth of Sukajan .

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