The first time I saw this type of jacket I was blown away by the colour and detail crammed into every inch of them.  It was only a matter of time until I added one to my wardrobe.

The name Souvenir Jacket was coined in post-war Japan when the occupying forces based in Tokyo would take their clothes to be adorned with traditional Japanese imagery by the local tailors as souvenirs of their time stationed in Japan.  The forces were based in Yokosuka so these distinctive jackets were named “Yokosuka Jumpers” which was in turn shortened to Sukajyan which is what they are still called in modern Japanese.

The body of the jacket is silk or rayon and the detail is embroidered directly into the material rather than being sown on patches.  Also the vast majority of the jackets are reversible, usually with one side that is heavily detailed and the other a little more toned down for when you don’t want to be quite so conspicuous.

If you fancy picking one up as your own souvenir of Japan then you will be needing to head off to down-town Ueno or Dobuita-Doori where you will see them crammed into shops and stalls like this

Prices vary hugely dependent on the quality of stitching and designer.  A real quality Satori piece is going to cost you about 30000 yen and a no-brand one can be had for as low as 2000 yen (but seeing as this is down-town you should chance a haggle) and to be honest apart from the quality of the design the quality of the jackets is pretty much the same.

The current trend is to mix in Japanese designs with western tattoo themes to really edgy results.

As always with anything really “Japanese” in terms of design I would be a bit careful as a foreigner with these jackets as they are often associated with bikers and gangs.  I would stick to a design with a bit of a modern or western influence.  There is also a really competitive market for authentic 1950’s jackets, but I think even the modern souvenir jackets tell a great story of a very interesting time in Tokyo’s history.

Samuel

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6 Responses to Souvenir Jackets

  1. […] trousers worn by the occupying forces  after WWII which places this look in the realm of the Sukajyan et cetera as something reclaimed to be totally Japanese from a foreign military […]

  2. […] camera-shape photo album from Loft containing purikura, in front of Haruki Murakami novels/our souvenir jackets from Ueno/paper cranes, folded when Samuel was […]

  3. Lee Gregory says:

    Hello

    Do you have any contactas that i can mail order one of these jackets online? The only ones that ever make it to the UK are original 50’s and normally are pretty battered and worn but still command huge prices.

    Many thanks

    Lee

  4. Samuel says:

    That is a tricky one Lee, to my mind none of the Japanese brands ship outside Japan at all. What you will need to do is go through a Japanese shopping service (there are loads of them out there) and they will handle everything for you (for a small fee). You can always use Rakuten’s global shipping as well if the jacket you want is on Rakuten.

    Good luck with it. I have a couple of Script and Satori jackets and they are some of my favorite items of clothing. It almsot feels a shame to wear them they are that beautiful.

    Oh and the original 50s ones go for a fortune in Japan as well!

    S

  5. Julianne Hall says:

    I just purchased an original “deadstock” meaning never worn 50’s Suka-jan, we also call them Japanese souvenir Tour Jackets. My question is the ribbing has been eaten by moths, does it ruin the value to replace just the cuffs and collar? Im sure it does, but I really bought to enjoy and wear! What do you think? I also think the reproductions are beautiful but dont hold the allure of an original.

  6. Samuel says:

    @ Julianne

    Glad to hear you managed to find one from the 50s that had never been worn – not an easy feat by anyone’s standards. Personally I like to see the “boro” worn fabric and threadbare silk on vintage pieces as part of the core aesthetic of the piece, but if it is in such bad condition that you can’t actually wear it – well you only have one choice as it really must be worn!

    As far as value and collectors go, original condition is always more valuable no-matter how damaged (indeed, a beautifully damaged sukajyan can be the most valuable of all), but a well executed repair is not going to take too much off the resale value.

    Hope that helps and enjoy your jacket.

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