Yokosuka – Birthplace of One of a Kind “Japan Jackets”

What is a Sukajan?

The embroidery and stitching of Sukajan are supervised by highly skilled artisans
The embroidery and stitching of Sukajan are supervised by specialist artisans

This special jumper sold in Yokosuka that can be reached by heading south from Tokyo by train for an hour and is located approximately 30 minutes away from Yokohama, has set the fashion industry on fire. “Shukajan” was made of shiny acetate fabric with embroidery used for kimono that incorporated glossy acetate fabric. Military soldiers stationed in Japan would take it home with them as a souvenir. Thus began the history of the Sukajan, onto which oriental patterns would be embroidered such as military units or name to which they belonged, eagles, dragons, tigers and so on.

The Sukajan was created in the latter half of the turbulent 1940s. At the time it was known as a “souvenir jacket,” but starting in the 1970s its popularity spread to the young people of Japan, and because its sales base was the Yokosuka area, this municipal name was combined with “jumper” to form the portmanteau “Sukajan.” It has since come to be called that.

The embroidery industry has been vibrant in Gunma Prefecture for a very long time. The Sukajan was manufactured in the city of Kiryu, Gumma Prefecture and sold in Yokosuka. The primary material used in it was acetate satin, but since the 1950s through the present there have been more variations, such as those that enhance insulation by incorporating cotton into a velveteen fabric.

One famous brand is “TAILOR TOYO,” which is also said to be the originator of the Sukajan. We recommend the acetate material reversible type that re-creates the details of invaluable vintage Sukajan from the 1940s-1950s era. They sell for around 40,000 yen each. For more casual shoppers, T-shirts that incorporate the embroidery patterns of the Sukajan are also available for sale from 7000 yen.

Let’s go to Yokosuka and buy an authentic Sukajan!

MC House Suka T, a famous retailer of Sukajan in Yokosuka
The interior of MC House Suka T, which boasts a lineup of Sukajan

Sukajan was born on “Dobuita Street,” about a 10 minute walk north from Yokosuka Station. Here and there are clothing stores with layouts that face the street and display a variety of patterned goods in a conspicuous way. Since there is such an abundance of color coordinations and patterns, why don’t you go for an enjoyable walk around the town and try to find an outfit that you like?

MIKASA is a retailer that is famous even among a multiplicity of other stores. Ever since 1952, this famous retailer has handled the Sukajan made by “TAILOR TOYO .” MC House Suka T, a retailer where artisans embroider original designs one by one has been making totally original Sukajan for those who would like to have their own favorite designs and who value individual creativity. If you wander about the abundantly individualistic retailers of the area, you are sure to find a Sukajan that you will like.

After shopping, it’s time for Yokosuka’s traditional Kaigun Curry!

The Original Yokosuka Kaigun Curry you can savor in Yokosuka Kaigun Curry Kan
“The Original Kaigun Curry” has re-created recipes more than a century old.

You should definitely try the famous “Kaigun Curry” when you are in Yokosuka. Curry was introduced to Japan in 1908 by the British Navy, who brought it to the Japanese Navy. Because of this, “Kaigun Curry” has become a noted specialty in Yokosuka. In particular, “the Original Yokosuka Kaigun Curry” that has faithfully re-created recipes from that era provides cuisine that allows one to feel the passage of more than a century. You should definitely visit “the Yokosuka Kaigun Curry Kan,” a provider of the curry.

In the nearby souvenir shops, the pre-cooked vacuum sealed products are popular as souvenirs. If you buy Japanese curry as a souvenir and eat it later, you can at whatever time you want re-create your gourmet experience from Yokosuka.

The Sukajan, created in Yokosuka, helped promote the evolution of individuality, and is now drawing attention from around the world. Why don’t you try taking a short trip from Tokyo to Yokosuka to enjoy its shopping and gourmet dining?