Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Views on wearing 18th century clothes in modern Japan

For over a year now I have been wearing 18th century Scottish clothing on a regular basis here in Niigata City , Japan. I would love to wear this type of clothing everyday but poverty forces me to work a 2nd job where I dress up as a modern bicycle shop mechanic ( sorry I am not providing photos of me looking like that ) . Anyhow some of you might be wondering why I dress like this regularly, for most people who like dress up in 18th century Scottish clothing they are taking part in historical reenactments, for me being a Jacobite of one here in Japan means I never have the chance to join other like minded historical reenactors . There are no 18th century Jacobite events in Japan at all ( can not figure that out ) but if you are into dressing up as Samurai or a WW2 soldier there are events to attend.  These days my wardrobe has more 18th century clothing than modern clothing because I took a heap of modern clothes to the recycle store over a year ago and have not renewed any of the limited modern clothing I have. I only need those clothes to fix bicycles 3 days a week.

Do I get stared at as I walk down the street dressed like this ? , well as a foreigner who has lived in Japan for nearly 16 years I am used to getting started at and that happened in modern clothing previously anyhow. In the local area where I live and work everybody is so used to seeing my wife Tamaki & I that it has become normal , but when we venture to other parts of the city or travel outside of the city we do get plenty of looks. I have heard people whispering that I  am a bagpiper ( I guess many Japanese think anyone in a kilt must play the bagpipes ) or very young kids saying what is that ?. But I have never had anything but positive comments from people which is nice. I wear the clothing everywhere and have never bothered to change into modern clothes to suit other people. These days I have grown a strong dislike to modern clothing and personally can not stand wearing it. My 18th century clothes comprise of wool, linen , tweed etc and are perfect all year round , I have purchased some items and made the rest to save money. One nice thing is almost anything goes in Japan , people will stare if you are dressed differently but will not offer any rude remarks at all. I only hope one day in the near future I can wear 18th century clothing everyday , but at present I am making the most of the days that I can dress like this, life is short so if you want to do something that makes you happy just go ahead and do it. Far too many people conform to what society expects them to do especially in Japan.  As for me I do not own a mobile phone which sometimes shocks people even more than the clothes I wear !


  1. Great blog Don. As a former everyday pre Culloden wearer, for five or six years, one of the reasons I quit and went back to "trad" pseudo Victorian was constantly having to explain myself. Perhaps with the politeness of the Japanese you will be spared this. I often miss it though, and whilst many locals here have almost a full wardrobe of Jacobean clothing to try to coordinate them to turn out on mass is something I no longer do.. I often miss wearing the plaid.

  2. Hi Dark Lord , Yes luckily the Japanese are quite reserved about asking big foreigners questions dressed head to toe in 18th century clothing !. Today I was selling pies on the street and handing out flyers for Albannach , so far I have only had positive comments and have not had any grief even from drunkards which is great. Unlike your experience in Oamaru I have not had to explain myself to anyone as yet which is nice.