Nov 1, 2017

Front is Back, Right is Left in Japanese Clothing

So I've been living in Japan most of my life, but it was not until recently that I really started shopping for clothing in Japanese stores.  Don't get me wrong, I think Japanese clothing is fantastic, but sizing tends to be an issue so I tended to defer to my comfort zone in American brands.  The other things that happened were that I had children, and my family and I moved out to the Japanese countryside where getting goods from the states was not that easy anymore.

Recently, I discovered something about Japanese clothes: oftentimes front is back and right is left.

Here's one example:
Front is Back, Right is Left in Japanese Clothing photo

My wife and I bought these PJs for our child and without paying much attention, we were putting the pants on with the tag in the back.  The pants looked a little awkward though.  At first, I thought it was something wrong with the stitching--maybe it was defective.  Then I looked at the tag a little more closely...it says "Mae," meaning "Front."  Whoops.  Of course, after 30+ years of having the tags situated in back, how was I to know that it would somehow be swapped for infant and toddlers clothes?

The one other example comes in the form of jacket zippers.  In the states, the actual zipping mechanism is on the right-hand side of all men's jackets.  I grew up with the mindset that if the zipper was on the left-side, I might be wearing a women's coat.  Then I get to Japan and all of my uniqlo jackets are left-hand zips.  Mind blown.  

So these aren't life changing revelations.  I get that.  Still, it's a million little things like this that you never think about until you settle into a new country that really reveal just how much your brain is wired to certain expectations.  Of course, I feel that I am a broadened individual: an ambi-capable zipperer who knows how to dress his kids properly in Japanese clothing.



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).

1 Comment

  • edthethe

    on Nov 2

    the tag in the front weirded me out too! But I never noticed the zipper. probably because I always wore men's and women's jackets and never paid mind.