Kappogi (割烹着)

Kappogi is a kind of apron originated in Japan and mainly worn over wafuku (Japanese traditional clothes).

It was first designed to protect kimono while one was doing the housework, with its sleeve size and a sleeve length being big enough to put the tamoto (sleeve pouch) of kimono in, and with its mitake (length of clothing) generally hanging to the height of knees (the mitake of some kappogi is as long as kimono.)
Its straps are tied around the shoulders like a chest protector. Some of them have wrist openings of the sleeves with rubber strings passed around them, and some of them have pockets.

Usage and Characteristics

It is used to prevent troubles with hygiene or protect kimono from dirt and stain during cooking or cleaning.

To put on kappogi, straps attached to two places, the neck and the waist, are usually tied on the back.

Most of the present kappogi are cut round around the collar. Because it was a main current to be cut square around the collar until the mid Showa period, even now some people prefer that old-fashioned image.

Japan's National Defense Women's Association and kappogi

The kappogi adopted as a uniform by the Japan National Defense Women's Association is thought to have been a type of "clothing for household chores" that was invented by Sachiko SASAKI and introduced in an edition of the magazine "Fujin no Tomo" (a Japanese magazine for urban middle-class women) that was published in 1913. Then, it was put up for sale in department stores and the like, and was becoming popular in the general public. The Japan's National Defense Women's Association, which was organized in 1932, carried out various activities such as sewing senninbari (a cotton belt with a thousand red stitches, which was an amulet to avoid bullets), seeing off soldiers who were to leave for the front, donating money earned from collecting and selling waste materials, visiting and comforting the soldier's bereaved family, and so on, in the uniform of kappogi and tasuki-gake (tucking up the sleeves of a kimono with a cord) with the slogan "National Defense starts from the Kitchen." Under these circumstances, it can be said that this uniform enabled it to achieve more widespread mass mobilization than the other Women's Clubs that were apt to be thrown into "the competition of Japanese kimono". In 1941, the Patriotic Women's Association and the Japan Women's Group Association were absorbed into the Japan's National Defense Women's Association and they were integrated into the Japan Women's Association. But as the war situation worsened and the homeland defense war drew near, the Japan Women's Association was dissolved to prepare for it, and people began running out of goods rapidly and cotton became impossible to come by; as a result, women began to wear monpe (women's work pants).

To Put On Kappogi

This section describes an example of common procedures for putting on kappogi over kimono.

Holding the collar straps, take the kappogi off the hanger for kappogi, and untie the collar straps.

At this point, be careful that your bare hand does not touch the outside of the kappogi.

Unfold the kappogi.

Holding the collar straps of the kappogi and being careful to touch only the outside of the kappogi, stretch the kappogi so that the upper part of the sleeves are smooth and then pass each arm through first one sleeve and then the other.

At this point, be careful that your bare hand does not touch the outside of the kappogi.

Stick the hands out of the sleeves. When it is hard to stick the hands out, pull up the opposite sleeve from the inside of the kappogi. Pulling the collar with the hand which have come out of the sleeve, stick the other hand out.

Tie the collar straps up.

At this time, if an adjustable strap is attached to the lining of the kappogi, and its position is on the obijime (decorative string used to hold a kimono sash in place) of the kimono, tie and fasten the adjustable strap to the obijime.

Make the waist straps go around the back, and tie them at the front.

At this time, if straps are attached to the wrist openings of the sleeves, tie them after the waist straps.

To Take Off Kappogi

This section describes an example of common procedures for hanging kappogi on the hanger for kappogi.

Untie the waist straps, wash the hands, and then untie the collar straps. Holding the inside of the sleeve of the kappogi with the left hand, pull the right hand.

Holding the kappogi on the left hand with the right hand inside of the kappogi, pull the left hand from the kappogi and take it off.

Keeping away from the kappogi so that it doesn't touch the body, hold the collar straps, and put the collars together.

Tie the collar straps, and making the inside of the kappogi outside, hang it on the hanger for kappogi.

[Original Japanese]