Happi coat (livery coat) (法被)

Happi (written 法被) coat is worn at festival, and also is a craft man's livery coat with the crest or name of store on the back and lapels. It is also written as 半被.

Generally it is in style of haori (a Japanese half-coat) with waist or knee length and it has feature of simple Tsutsusode (kimono with tubular style of sleeve) or hirosode (a wide sleeve) shape, without a lapel or breast cord.

Originally samurai wore a happi coat with large family crest undyed, and craft man and fire brigade also started to wear. Original a happi coat was hitoe (a single layer of kimono) compared to a hanten (a short coat originally for craftsmen worn over a kimono), which was awase (lined garment), but the two lost a difference in the end of Edo Period. Person's membership, name and intension can be indicated by vertically lettering in collar to chest area. Examples of letterings are 'Carpenter Tomekichi', 'Captain of Megumi', and 'Do come in'.

Word 'happi' is said to originate from 'hanpi', the sleeveless body wear worn underneath ho (outer robe/vestment), which was put on when sokutai (traditional ceremonial court dress) is worn in ancient time. Kanji '法被' is also used for 'happi' that is a cloth hanged from backrest of a chair for high priest but it is believed to be just a phonetic-equivalent character, as there is no connection with happi coat.

Presently happi coat is worn not only in festival, but also for various occasions like supporting in sport event, such as baseball, and a costume of shop assistant at sale in department store.

[Original Japanese]