Japanese Foreign-Language Clothing Glossary: A-L Words

Figure 1.--

We have only just begun our Japanese glossary, pulling together the Japanese terms from the Japanese section of HBC. As we have no Japanese language capability, here we have to rely on an on-line dictionary and our Japanese readers. Hopefully our Japanese readers will provide us more Japanese terms to add to the glossary or correct and refine the terms that we have found.

Aarohashatsu: An aloha shirt, no longer commonly seen in the 2000s.

Andaashatsu: Undershirt

Boshi: The Japanese word for either cap or hat is "boshi". It is interesting to note that some form of headwear is universally required of primary school children (even in those schools where uniforms are not required) but that increasingly secondary schools are not enforcing or abolishing the hat requirement. Japanese adults rarely wear hats today except for sports or to keep off the sun; baseball caps are still very popular among young boys, however.Boys and men wore hats and caps much more commonly in the past. No well dressed boy's outfit in the 19th and first half of the 20th century would fail to include a hat or cap. Today headgear is less commonly worn. The difference being a cap is a close-fitting head covering resembling a hat, but differing principally because of the absence of a brim or by having a brim that only partially circumvents the crown.

Boshi: In Japanese the word "boshi" is also used for caps. There is no separate word for a cap, headwear with a visor rather than a brim. In past boys used to wear the French style béret, nowadays has been replaced by cap with its visor on side over ear if not completely backwards.

Butoufuku: Ball dress/dancing clothes

Dan'ihoushoku: Well-fed and well-dressed

Datsui: Undressing/taking off one's clothes

Doresushatsu: Dress shirt

Doresu: The Japanese word for dress is "doresu". I do not think that Japanese boys ever wore dresses. By the time Japanese boys began to wear Western clothes (the 1920s), dresses for boys were going out of fashion in the West. Europeans for centuries dressed little children, both boys and girls in the same styles of dresses, often referred to as petticoats. For most of this time, no special clothing existed for childrn, boys or girls. Boys when they were "breeched", were simplly dressed in smaller versions of the knee breeches and other clothes worn by their fathers. Special clothes for children appeared in the late 18th centuty with distinctive styles for boys and girls. Even so, many mothers continued to dress small boys in dresses for more than a century. This fashion also became common in America and persisted well into the 20th century. Here we are not positive about the use of "doresu". I am not sure about your definition of "dress" for the woman's garment (as opposed to the use of "dress" in dress up, dress shirt etc. which is definitely used). One reader reports, "I was taught that a woman's dress is known as a 'wan peesu' (one-piece) as opposed to a 'sukato' (skirt). In discussing boys' dresses of a century ago (rarely if at all worn in Japan), I 'm not sure what word would be used". Hopefully Japanese readers will provide some information here.

Doresuappu: Dress up. Note that Japanese has copied the English meaning of the word dress and uses it not only for a skirted garment, but also putting on formal attire such as in dressing up or dress shirt or suit.

Doresushatsu: Dress shirt

Doresusuutsu: Dress suit

Doresumeekaa: Dressmaker. In Europe and America during the 18th and early 19th centurty, fashions for boys until adolescene were often bought by the mother in a dress shop where she bought her dresses.

Doresumeekingu: Dressmaking

Doresuten: Dress store

Doressaa: Dresser

Doresshii: Dressy

Doresshingu: Dressing

Doresshinguruumu: Dressing room

Doreme: Dressmaker

Fanshiidoresu: Fancy dress

Foomarudoresu: Formal dress

Fukusougatotonotteiru: To be properly dressed

Fukuji: Cloth and fabrics used to make clothing. HBC has collected information on many fabrics used to make boys' clothing.

Fundoshi: Fundoshi is a Japanese loincloth worn in pre-modern Japan as underwear by men and boys. They were still common as undergarments in Japan until World War II. Both men and boys in modren Japan still wear fundoshi for festivals--the fundoshi in hot weather will be worn without anything over it together with a simple short waist-length "happi" coat. Usualy the only footwear is geta, the wooden clogs. Headwear will consist of a sweatband. At certain shrine festivals, older boys and young men will wear only fundoshi and headbands (hachimaki) -- including mid-winter festivals; warmth will be provided by sake and intense physical activity. Historically at many festivals boys and men would be naked except for fundoshi and hachimaki (perhaps also donning a short happi coat), but the advent of Western prudery meant that fundoshi worn with nothing else are rarely seen in modern Japan. Although the fundoshi loincloth may seem a simple garment, it is worn with great cremony. There are while websited in Japan devoted to different types of fundoshi and how they are worn.

Fuutai: Appearance/look/dress

Gakuran: Gakuran is the term commonly used for the traditional Japanese boy's school uniform jacket, generally meaning the Prussian cadet style with a high collar. Gakuran is derived from the general term for school uniform, gakuseifuku. It can be used to mean a traditional school uniform in general. but can also be used for the jacket, in part because it was the principal item in the uniform. The classic gakuran has a high collar and large brass buttons. The trouseres were ordinary black pants. While the basic cut is realtively standard, there are many different types with small stylistic differences. A boy was expected to always keep his jacket buttoned to the collar. Boys who appeared with their gakuran buttons unbuttones were preceived as delinquents. The comparable girl's garment, the school sailor blouse, is known as a sailor-fuku. A reader reports, "'Gakuran' generally refers only to the high-tunicked jacket worn in traditional Japanese secondary boys school uniforms, whereas "gakuseifuku" is simply a generic terms for any kind of school uniform worn by either gender at any age. I haven't been able to tell whether "gakuran" is also used for the traditionally styled jackets worn at a handfull of elite primary schools (in all cases that I know of paired with short pants rather than the long pants worn by secondary school boys). I'm sure the term would be understood in referring to such uniforms, but it may not be correct usage.

Gakuseifuku: The Japanese word for school uniform is "gakuseifuku". This applies to all uniforms for all ages and both genders. "Gaku" is prefix meaning academic; "seifuku" means uniform. Japanese school uniforms appeared in the late 19th century and seemed to have been modelled on contemporary European uniforms. The traditional boys secondary uniform was modelled on the Prussian cadet uniform. Some primary schools adopted this uniform look as well, a few the classic British look, more seem reminiscent of French styles of 50 years ago. School for most children is the major experience with the world outside the home. About a third of the day is spent at school and about half of a child's waking hours. School clothing did not used to be a great issue. Mom and dad chose it or the school had a uniform. In our modern world, kids haver become much more concerned with their clothes. The cost of those clothes and conflicts associated weith them have caused many schools and parents to reaasess the school uniform. Some countries are beginning to reverse the decline in uniform usage. School uniforms have varried from country to country and over time. The school uniform familiar to our British friends consist of a blazer, school tie, and dress pants which is worn by boys in many countries, especially English-speaking countries. This uniform evolvedin the England during the late 19th century. Blazers were at first sports wear, but in the 1920s began to replace Eton suits and stiff Eton collars and by the 1930s had become the standard uniform at many private schools.

Geta: "Geta" or wooden clogs were worn to school in the earlier part of the 20th century by many boys and taken off at the school entrance (most schools still require students to wear slippers inside school). A Jpanese reader tells us, "When I was a high school boy here, geta were still worn by a lot of boys to my school, but it's been decades since I've seen boys in geta. Festivals are an exception.

Gobatake: Baggy short pants, knee to below the knee.

Gurhka shorts: Gurka shorts are knee-length short pants loosely based on the shorts worn by British Gurka sholdiers recruited in Nepal. This style was popular among college-aged boys during the mid-1980s, but not seen much in the 2000s.

Hachimaki: Hachimaki is a piece of cloth wrapped around the head, often adorned with a colourful mon or word. Traditionally it was used to symbolically show resolve. Kamakazi pilots wore them in World War II as did samarais. More commonly in modern Japan today they are used during sports to keep hair and sweat out of your eyes. Hachimaki is the traditional head/sweatband worn by Japanese workmen; while a few workmen still wear it, only boys participating in traditional Japanese festivals (so-called "matsuri") are likely to be seen in hachimaki.

Hadakaninaru: To take off one's clothes/to undress

Hakama: "Hakama" are the traditional wide trousers worn as part of formal attire by men and boys. They are worn with "kimonos" for formal occassions. A "kimono" is any robed garment, not just the one worn by Japanese women.

Hanzubon: This literally means, half-pants. They are traditional snug, short, short pants (usually implies young boys' shorts only).

Haregisugata: Dressed up in fine clothes.

Headoressaa: Hair dresser

Haisokusu: There is no special Japanese word for ankle socks, but knee socks are known in Japanese as "haisokusu" from the English "high socks", not knee socks. I have no idea why, but the word is universally used for everything from the knee-length tube socks to proper dress kneesocks. Tube socks were very popular in Japan during the 1980s-despite the fact that basketball is of minor importance. We know of no specific Japanese term for tubesocks. The initial poularity of tube sock probably reflects the importnce of the American influence. While they have disappeared in American and Europe by the late-1990s, you still see them in Japan even in th early 2000s. "Haisokusu" as also used for proper knee socks worn by both girls or boys.

Honkonshatsu: Short-sleeved dress shirt. The literal translation is "Hong Kong shirt", presumably because the warm climate makes short-sleeve shirts more common there. Short-sleeved shirts were imported from Hong Kong in mass quantities during the 1950s, expalining why the term first appeared. This term by the 2000s was no longer commonly used.

Idetachi: Dress/outfit

Infoomarudoresu: Informal dress

Ishou: Clothing/costume/outfit/garment/dress

Iwaigi: Festive dress

Juban: Undershirt or singlet

Kaburimono: Headdress/headgear

Kaikin: Open-necked shirt

Kaikinshatsu: Open-collared shirt

Kamiyui: Hairdresser/hairdressing

Karako: Boy or doll dressed in ancient Chinese clothes

Katagami: Pattern paper (for dressmaking)

Kikazaru: To dress up

Kigaejo: Dressing room

Kikonasu: To wear clothes stylishly/to dress oneself stylishly

Kimono: A "kimono" is any robed garment, not just the one worn by Japanese women. Kimonos in the 2000s are increasingly being worn by 5 year old boys for the shichi-go-san (literally 7-5-3) festival for boys of 5 and girls of 7 and 3. Boys after World War II would simply wear short pants suits, but in the 2000s most families dress the boys in more tradotional outfits, meaning a boy's "kimono" and "hakama"--the traditional wide trousers worn as part of formal attire by men and boys.

Kimonosugata: Dressed in a kimono

Kinagashi: Dressing casually

Kiruto: I believe the word used in Japanese for kilt is "kiruto" in Jannaese but not sure. Not worn by any boys or men; some girls schools require vaguely kilt-looking skirts. The kilt is a knee-length garment skirtlike garment tarditionally worn by men. The kilt as we know it today has ancient origins. It is generally associated today with Scotland or the Gaelic peoples of the British Isles and Normandy, however it has been worn in other countries as well. The kilt became so associated with Scottish nationalism that the English prohibited it for a time. The kilts use as a style of boys' clothing is much more recent in origin. The Higland kilt is simply a skirt, but younger boys might wear bodice kilts. A much more limited kilt-like garment was the kilt suit. This was kilt worn by small boys with matching jacket and skirt which as popular in America during the late 19th century. Today the kilt is primarily worn at ethnic celebrations and at Gaelic dancing competitions, but it is also worn for Scouting and formal events such as weddings.

Kodzuroi: The Japanese as with many other Western clothing termns use the English word with Japanese pronunciation--"kodzuroi". I am not sure how popular corduoy is in Japan, hopefully our Japanese readers will provide some details. Corduroy is still a popular material for both long and short pants for boys, seen most commonly in winter-wear short pants which by 2002 were knee length. I do not know the Japnaese word. The origibal English manufacture of corduroy was so concentrated in South Lancashire during the 19th century that corduroy became known in Germany as "Manchesterstoff" (Manchester fabric), later abreviated simply as "Manchester". Gradually "kordsamt" (corded velvet) and finally "kord," the modern term. Corduroy is often reported to be a French fabric, litterly "fabric of the king". This appears to be an eronious report. Corduroy instead appears to be a late-18th century English invention. Cotton corduroy was widely used by workers in the 19th century and became a popular childrens fabric by the early 20th century because of its warmth and durability. American boys commonly wore cord knickers and British and French boys cord shorts. The German Wandervogel often wore cord shorts. Corduroy was eclipsed by denim after World War II, but is still commonly used for children's clothing.

Koromogae: Seasonal change of clothing/changing (one's) dress for the season

Kosupure: Rough play, literally coarse play, including costume play (dressing up as a favourite character).

Kutsu: Kutsu is the Japanese word for shoes. Japanese boys have worn a wide variety of shoes over time.


Watson, John C. World Otakunization Project, Amherst Division, E-mail message, September 26, 2003.


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Created: October 16, 2001
Last updated: October 4, 2003