Big in Japan


Two Uni Watch readers recently took trips to Japan, and both of them made stops at the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, where they took lots of photos and made assorted observations. The first of these travelers was the intrepid Scott M.X. Turner (the man who designed the logo you see at the top of this page), whose report is as follows:

• “Made an interesting discovery at the Hall of Fame: Virtually every current Japanese team uses a different fabric [as you can see in these jersey photos of the Orix Buffaloes, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Nippon Ham Fighters, Soft Bank Hawks, Seibu Lions, Chiba Lotte Marines, Hanshin Tigers, Yakult Swallows, Yomiuri Giants, Chunichi Dragons, and Hiroshima Carp]. Compared to MLB, where everyone uses the same fabric, I found this pretty exceptional. Also, some of the teams wear different fabric for their jerseys and pants.”

• “The Nippon Ham Fighters’ road uniforms have an extra ‘O’ sewn under the placket, so if a player wears his jersey unbuttoned, he’s essentially switched teams to ‘NIPPOON HAM,’ which is just too good.” (As an aside, Uni Watch notes that the same thing happened last year to Zach Day of the Rockies.)

• “Tsuyoshi Shinjo is an absolute rock star in Japan — so much so that the scoreboard at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo (home of the Yakult Swallows) doesn’t mess with Kanji when listing his name on the scoreboard…they go straight to Romanji letters.”

Our other Japanese traveler was Ken Clark, who snapped some Hall of Fame pics of asymmetrical sleeves, old jerseys, and hosiery evolution (speaking of which, check out this shot, which appears to show toe-inclusive socks!). Clark also purchased this Yomiuri Giants yearbook and generously forwarded it to Uni Watch HQ, where it’s quickly become a favorite. Lots of interesting tidbits here, including the following:

• In addition to having stretch gussets, many of the Giants’ jerseys also appear to have little flap vents. Check out the additional views here, here, here, and here. Turns out a similar flap is visible in Scott Turner’s Hanshin Tigers photo.

• Most of the Giants have personalized undershirt collars, as you can see here, here, and here.

• Uni Watch, somewhat surprisingly, kinda likes these pant stripes.

• One of the Giants’ American players, Joe Dillon, wears MLB batting gloves.

Big thanks to Scott and Ken for this peek at baseball in the Far East.

Lederhosen Corner: Longtime Uni Watch pal Rob Walker, who writes the “Consumed” column for the New York Times Magazine (and also has an excellent blog, called Murketing), checks in with a bizarre tale of logo creep from the World Cup, where Dutch fans were recently forced to remove their pants, and therefore had to watch one of the matches in their underwear, because the pants carried the logo of a brewery that wasn’t an official FIFA sponsor. Yes, really. There’s a good audio report here.

34 comments to Big in Japan

  • Matt | June 20, 2006 at 8:36 am |

    The flap vents seem “cool”, but doesn’t it seem to defeat the purpose when they’re being worn with long sleeves and turtle-neck shirts?

    and the stripes that seem to “disappear” into the seam of the pants – a little too XFL-ish for me.

  • Anthony | June 20, 2006 at 8:39 am |

    I like those pants too, but i’m really surprised you do. Especially since it is an obvious case of logo creep by adidas (“the brand with 3 stripes”)

  • Joe Hilseberg | June 20, 2006 at 9:51 am |

    Looking at the close ups of the Japanese jerseys I was impressed with the craftmanship of the lettering. The stiching looks flawless and the lines of the twill are super clean. Having done the Orioles jerseys for 5 years, I can’t say the same for MLB authentics.

  • JFL | June 20, 2006 at 10:02 am |

    I got the uniform number book yesterday, and it is nothing short of fantastic. It is very comprehensive and easy to read. I would highly recommend it.

  • duker | June 20, 2006 at 10:03 am |

    Is that a link to a Randy Milligan jersey?

  • Texas_Islander | June 20, 2006 at 10:08 am |

    I have a question about Dwayne Wade. Will he still be able to get away with what he is wearing (compression shorts, knee pads and long socks that in effect create tights) despite the NBA’s ban on tights next year?

  • Mark | June 20, 2006 at 10:10 am |

    What would happen if the Dutch fans started wearing boxers with non-sponsored logos on them too? Would I would love to see what FIFA would do then.

  • Brandon T. | June 20, 2006 at 10:25 am |

    I’m completely ignorant of Japanese uniform history, but…why do they have uniforms with english letters? I realize english has become a dominant language, but don’t they have teams with japanese letters/logos? Somebody help a brother out.

  • Paul Lukas | June 20, 2006 at 10:44 am |

    Basically, English (and all things Western) is considered “cool” in Japan, which is why you see so much use of it in Japanese consumer culture — not just on sports uniforms but also on package designs, in advertising, etc. It makes for an odd but lively mish-mash.

    About Dwyane Wade: Not sure if he’ll be allowed to wear his leggings next year. If the team trains says it’s necessary for “medical reasons” (which could really mean pretty much anything), then he’ll probably be allowed to.

    — Paul

  • Perry | June 20, 2006 at 11:06 am |

    I’m not sure where they are from, but here is a team with an Link

  • Perry | June 20, 2006 at 11:13 am |

    Let’s try that HTML again: Link

  • Rick V | June 20, 2006 at 11:28 am |

    Umm… not to be insenstive but doesn’t it seem bizarre that Hiroshima symbol is a baseball in flames?

  • Fillby | June 20, 2006 at 11:37 am |

    Thanks for the Japanese baseball info. I have always been fascinated with japanese baseball and the uniforms and the history. On my fantasy baseball team this year, the Samurai, I have Johjima, Iguchi, Ichiro, Otsuka, Saito, and on IR…Godzilla. I just wish that there was a better outlet for J-ball caps here in the US. With all of the “interesting” styles that New Era makes, I am surprised that they have not ventured into the J-ball area. I guess that they are too busy marketing to the hip-hop crowd.

  • Bill | June 20, 2006 at 11:52 am |

    i wonder if FIFA will ban the wrong tatoo next. I’d like to see them remove that. Yohoo FIFA is giving out free ink removal. You don’t get that from the NFL or MLB.

  • todd krevanchi (krvanch) | June 20, 2006 at 12:55 pm |

    are those different fabrics, or just different weaves of the same fabric?

  • Jared | June 20, 2006 at 1:24 pm |

    Todd it looks like they are all Dri-Fit, Coolmax, Coolbase, Etc. Some sort of wicking material

  • Brian | June 20, 2006 at 1:43 pm |

    Those stripes are adidas logo creep! No way you can like that, Paul!

  • Joel Keller | June 20, 2006 at 2:16 pm |

    That Giants uni and cap seem new… when I was in Tokyo two years ago, the uniform and cap looked more traditional (and the shirt didn’t have an adidas logo on it).

    It looks like a lot of the Japanese teams are spicing up their unis, judging by the recent picture Paul posted of Bobby V.’s team, the Chiba Lotte Marines.

    Oh, and Rick… I’ve also been to Hiroshima. Believe me, they’re very serious about what happened in 1945; I think the park and museum they erected on the site of the H-bomb explosion more than makes up for a logo on a baseball shirt. Their stadium was retro-cool, though: 1950’s era with an all-dirt infield.

  • Brett Donohue | June 20, 2006 at 2:16 pm |

    By applauding the pants you have contradicted yourself twice. It is a blatant case of LOGO CREEP and it is similar to the look the original “logo creep” uses on the Miami football pants.
    With all of the LOGO CREEPS popping up, we need a new system to identify them: Logo Creep/Swoosh, Logo Creep/Stripes, Logo Creep/UA, etc.

  • Paul Lukas | June 20, 2006 at 2:35 pm |

    Hey, I said even I was surprised by my fondness for those stripes. Inconsistent? Sure — life works out that way sometimes. I wouldn’t want those stripes on MY favorite team’s pants, but there’s something about the reverse-taper that works for me.

  • JTH | June 20, 2006 at 3:34 pm |


    Thanks for that link. I’d completely forgotten about that site. It used to be one of my favorites.

  • JTH | June 20, 2006 at 3:47 pm |

    Oh, and just wondering…

    Isn’t logo creep pretty much a given when you have teams named for corporations (Rakuten, Inc. Yomiuri Group, Nippon Ham, Lotte Group…)?

  • casey | June 20, 2006 at 4:02 pm |

    anyone notice the inconsistency with the batting helmets in the CWS?? even among the same team, there are 2-3 different designs….

  • Scott M.X. Turner | June 20, 2006 at 5:05 pm |

    A couple of responses…

    It’s hard to tell, exactly, what fabrics these are. Some are CoolDriFitMaxBase, Hiroshima’s is ’70s/’80s hearvyweight doubleknit, Chunichi’s is the sort of doubleknit mesh popular with ’80s football and basketball jerseys, Yakult’s is…well, space-age, I guess.

    Romanji lettering is used on Japanese jerseys because initially they copied what American players wore as the game was imported starting in the late 1800s. Also, both the Giants and Tigers were named directly after the U.S. clubs of the same name. During World War II, the government ordered all teams to replace romanji letters with Kanji (Japanese characters) — in fact, by 1944 all the teams were forced to wear Imperial military caps in lieu of baseball caps. After the war, at the onset of the U.S. occupation, romanji returned to baseball jerseys in a big way.

    Since then, much like multinational corporations, whose romanji letters are seen on buildings and billboards throughout Japan, baseball teams eschew Japanese characters — with the exception of the Orix Buffaloes, who have a kanji sleeve patch.

    A few fans have customized their team’s jersey by having their favorite player’s name sewn on the back in kanji, but overwhelmingly it’s romanji letters everywhere on a Japanese uniform.

    The Hiroshima emblem — a flaming baseball — is a new alt logo that adorns one sleeve of the Carp’s uniform. It does seem odd. Joel’s right, though — Hiroshima Stadium is across the street from the A-Bomb Dome (from the right field upper deck, the Dome can be seen hovering above the grandstand) and fits in with the profound, powerful vibe of Hiroshima’s Peace Park.

    Finally, it is unsettling for a U.S. sports fan to see all the teams named for corporations, not the city they play in. The Hiroshima Carp is something of an exception — half owned by Toyo Corporation, half owned by the city of Hiroshima. The Yomiuri Giants are owned by the media conglomerate Yomiuri (FOX owned the Dodgers, Chicago Tribune the Cubs, CBS the Yankees), and Hanshin’s railroad is the only way to get to the Hanshin Tigers games at Koshien Stadium, Japan’s Fenway Park/Wrigley Field.

  • Ryan | June 20, 2006 at 5:43 pm |

    From the article linked to by Paul about the Dutch fans……….

    “There were also allegations yesterday that England supporters at last Thursday’s Trinidad and Tobago match were forced to hand over Nike clothing at the entrance of the stadium in Nuremberg, because Adidas – the German sportswear giant and Nike’s deadly rival – is the official World Cup sponsor.”

    Anybody else out there feeling giddy and a little scared by this?

  • Andrew | June 20, 2006 at 5:57 pm |

    What’s next, making people who aren’t wearing adidas shoes watch the matches in socks or barefoot?

  • todd krevanchi (krvanch) | June 20, 2006 at 6:35 pm |

    [quote comment=”1132″]From the article linked to by Paul about the Dutch fans……….

    “There were also allegations yesterday that England supporters at last Thursday’s Trinidad and Tobago match were forced to hand over Nike clothing at the entrance of the stadium in Nuremberg, because Adidas – the German sportswear giant and Nike’s deadly rival – is the official World Cup sponsor.”

    Anybody else out there feeling giddy and a little scared by this?[/quote]

    yes. i feel scared. every one of my 127 pairs of kicks are nike and virtually all of my team gear is nike. i would most definitely have gone to that england game wearing a nike wayne rooney t-shirt. im curious if world cup ticket packages came with either a disclaimer or some sort of user instructions…

  • Matt | June 20, 2006 at 7:18 pm |

    hey paul, what’s your favorite CWS uni this year? i’m in a toss-up between fullerton and rice’s whites. clemson’s unis today looked gross with everybody wearing their pants low and the super thick two-color stripe down the side. nasty.

  • JTH | June 20, 2006 at 7:55 pm |

    [quote comment=”1134″]every one of my 127 pairs of kicks are nike[/quote]


    just wow.

  • Bob | June 21, 2006 at 2:53 pm |

    It’s “romaji” letters not “romanji”

    Also every player in Japanese baseball has to officially register his name. Sort of like a thoroughbred. Shinjo asked that his name be “SHINJO”.

    A lot of foreign players go by their first name or a nickname. Dave Nilsson played as “Dingo”.

  • Jeremy Brahm | June 21, 2006 at 10:23 pm |

    New Era is getting into J-Ball hats, it has really only happened in the last couple of years or so. Prior to that I would say that the best hats you could get looked like trucker hats. I’m not kidding, I got one as a gift in 1994 of the Yakult Swallows. It was polyester and horrible. You could get the real deal but at that time they cost like $150, which shocked me because, “It is a hat, how hard is it to make.”
    Swallows hat from New Era.

  • Jared | June 22, 2006 at 1:28 pm |

    [quote comment=”1136″][quote comment=”1134″]every one of my 127 pairs of kicks are nike[/quote]


    just wow.[/quote]

    Are you shocked at the # of shoes, or that he only has Nikes?

    I too ONLY wear Nike. I’m at around 80-90 pair at the moment, I sold some off a little while ago. In fact, I don’t own ANYTHING, not a single Item from any of the other shoe companies…. Reebok, Adidas, And1, Cons, whatever……

    Maybe Todd and I were separated @ Birth?

  • acc (the brain) | January 30, 2007 at 9:39 pm |

    check out Emeka’s shoes.

  • Retro Sneakers | November 2, 2007 at 8:49 pm |

    I think Nike’s are going to the retro look now for the more casual crowd. Their athletic line is ugly, but I like the retro looking ones.