Thursday, April 10, 2008

Study Abroad Japan: What is the difference between a Western and Japanese t-shirt? - clothes buying tips

So what are some of the differences between a Japanese and a Western t shirt? Styles, size, range of colors and labeling just to name a few. T shirts are an everyday fashion item in Japan and you can buy T shirts in Japan from a wide range of outlets including mail order,online sites, franchise store, local shop, department store, convenience store and 100 yen shop. The price and quality varies widely between each type of store but it must be said that it is very easy to find and buy t shirts in Japan

Styles change each year and each segment has their own styles, for example: children teenagers, salary men, housewives, sports wear and casual wear. The best way to see the styles for each segment is to check the variety of mail order catalogues for each season.

This springs men's catalogues revealed a new style of a two layer look that is made of two panels that looks like two t-shirts in one, but is actually just a cut away panel and is seen across all men's segments but in different designs. In the younger men's casual segment, t-shirts with shoulder epaulet have been released. In the young teen men's segment the two layer look has an added jewellery accessory that loops through the neck area and is included as part of the t-shirt. At first glance the way it is fastened looks like it can be left on while washing. V neck and crew neck are both available but V neck seems to be the more popular of the two. In the work t-shirt segment, a wider range of summer cool products are available with products for each age segment.

Salary men in Japan wear lightweight t-shirts under their shirts in summer as a way to absorb body sweat and not show on the outer shirt. Summer being so humid means that each worker must have a supply of these t-shirts for the working week, a fresh one each day. Older workers also wear light weight long cotton pants under their suit pants

Pastel and solid colours are popular this season with light orange, light blue, light green be seen across most segments and even sneaking into men's business shirts.

Japanese t-shirts are sized different to Western t-shirts and are primarily made for Japanese sizes. Even though the label says L meaning large does not mean it is the same as a western L. Normally Japanese t-shirts are cut shorter in the arms and in the length. So if you buy your same size in Japan you will find you can't tuck the t-shirt in and the arms are too short.Tip: always buy a size larger. If your normally an L in a western t- shirt buy an XL in a Japanese t- shirt just to be safe and try it on before you pay or leave the store.


On a standard Western t-shirt there are two labels, one on the back panel just below the neck line and an inside label sewn into the T shirt describing washing instructions and maker information.

Some Japanese t shirt makers follow this style or format while others have chosen to start from scratch and design their own format.

Photo: back panel label

Photo:Inner label panel

Some Japanese t shirt makers have no label on the back panel or an inside panel but have one panel that is two sided and is located at the inside of the rear of the t-shirt.Why? Two possible reasons for this include a cost saving of combining two labels into one and the second is to also use the label as a wearing guide, that indicates which side of the t-shirt is front or back.

Photo: No back panel label

Photo: Back panel inside rear label

Photo: Two sided panel

In Japan you will find such a large range of different types of t-shirts that you will find it hard to decide which ones to buy.They make a great souvenir for friends at home because they are lightweight and individually wrapped. One's with Kanji characters on them are particularly well appreciated.

Learn more about motorcycling in Japan at Motorcycle Japan