60th birthday = need a red hat!
January 31, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

For a 60th birthday, it's an old Japanese tradition to dress the celebrant in a special red hat and vest (Here's a bonus picture of a cat in said attire). Where can I get a hold of the hat and vest in the U.S. (or some kind of reasonable approximation)?

My family is Japanese-American, and we're throwing my dad a kanreki/special 60th birthday party this year. He's mentioned in the past that he would kind of like the whole red hat deal, so now I'm on the hunt. I found a few places online that sell the hat and vest, but I'm not super keen to spend the >$200 I've been seeing to ship them over from Japan. I know for a fact that my dad won't care about the quality, only the symbolism of the clothes. I'm not that far from New York, and my family is in L.A., so it seems like there should be closer/cheaper options. I knit, so I've thought about knitting him a comically oversized red beret, but I'm not sure if that visually translates. I'm open to alternatives than the totally traditional set, but it seems like it really should be more than just plonking a Red Sox cap and valet vest on him.
posted by Diagonalize to Shopping (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That hat looks like a beret to this WASC-raised chick, so that's one vote for a beret. If you decide not to knit you can go with many purchasing options for about $10-30 bucks, it looks like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2013

Oh, wait, you could knit the vest, though. There's a book on knitting kimono (or, at least, knitting kimono-inspired garments), and a couple of the patterns could suit. If you're on Ravelry, check the book out there and have a look at either their dogi or the jinbaori.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on January 31, 2013

Response by poster: I should probably mention that this'll be taking place in L.A. in July, so even though I love to knit, I also want to avoid giving my dad heatstroke, but I like the way your brain works!
posted by Diagonalize at 9:53 AM on January 31, 2013

You might try contacting this vendor on alibaba. I've never tried buying through alibaba as a consumer, but it's worth inquiring.
posted by drlith at 9:55 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

The entire official kanreki (還暦) set is kind of expensive - more than $300 at an equal exchange rate.

Couldn't you just get a red vest and a red beret, and maybe get a good calligrapher to write out 還暦, and frame it?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:17 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're close enough to New York for a quick day trip, you could also maybe just come in for a browse in Chinatown; yes, I know that China =/= Japan, but a lot of the catering-to-tourists shops in Chinatown stock some Japanese items as well to placate white folks who don't know or care about the difference. There are also a few genuinely Japanese shops mixed in as well in Chinatown. Between all of that you may be able to find something that approximates things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2013

I know for a fact that my dad won't care about the quality, only the symbolism of the clothes.

The hat looks similar in shape to a chef's toque. Could you make it from soft red paper (check your local art supply shop for oversized sheets of paper) from one of these DIY toque patterns, modifying the details to make it look more like the traditional hat? For example, it looks like the brim for your father's hat should be narrower than a toque's collar, but that's easy to do. If you use super-soft handmade paper, the crown will be easy to shape into the soft beret-like shape shown in your photos rather than the stiffer upright shape of a toque.
posted by Elsa at 10:35 AM on January 31, 2013

Are there any seamstresses in your family? The book Make Your Own Japanese Clothes has a vest pattern that could be modified And the hat is basically just a big circle with a rectangular band.
posted by vespabelle at 11:42 AM on January 31, 2013

Oh oh oh oh!

The Folkwear pattern comany has a sewing pattern for a kataginu that they claim is "easy". That may work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2013

You might try contacting this vendor on alibaba. I've never tried buying through alibaba as a consumer, but it's worth inquiring.

I have ordered from Alibaba / Aliexpress before, and it was a really good experience - lots of communication with the seller, quick delivery and a great item (custom shoes). Granted that will vary from seller to seller, but it seems like a decent system overall.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2013

There is Little Tokyo (downtown) and Japantown (Sawtelle and Venice in west LA) that have clothing stores catering to Japanese immigrants, I mean tiny little mom n pop stores that do not have websites and where the proprietors do not speak English so well, so phone calls would be tricky, unless one of you knows enough Japanese language. Could your LA family members do an afternoon of on the ground searching, maybe bringing a photo of the hat and vest, or find a recent yellow pages and make some calls? I'd start in little tokyo because it is bigger (like 15 blocks versus 2 blocks in west LA) and where I have seen more traditional-Japanese-culture things (kimono, fancy tableware, textiles), whereas Japantown in west LA is more Giant Robot, trendy young adult, Sanrio/hello kitty type stuff.
posted by holyrood at 2:09 PM on January 31, 2013

Response by poster: I grew up in L.A., visit often, and have lots and lots of contacts there, including a family friend who runs a major gift shop in Little Tokyo. I know the JP scene pretty well in L.A. The problem is that I also know that no one really carries this stuff on the cheap. The stores really only stock the expensive kanreki gear because it's a pretty damn small market in the U.S. (Japanese people in the U.S. celebrating their 60th birthday? Whoo-boy...)

I guess I was hoping someone might pop up with secret knowledge of some hidden shop in Brooklyn where magical hipsters have decided to manufacture cheap kanreki sets for some inexplicable reason, but I think all my suspicions have been confirmed. But it's cool. I can either try my luck with Rakuten or alibaba, or I'll figure something else out and my dad'll still have an awesome birthday. Thanks, everybody, for all your help!
posted by Diagonalize at 3:47 PM on January 31, 2013

Best answer: I know you've said shipping from Japan is expensive, but I wondered if this might be cheap enough...
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:20 PM on January 31, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, wow, that's perfect, three_red_balloons! Their English description is, er...inspired, but this is almost exactly what I was hoping for!
posted by Diagonalize at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2013

« Older Biographies on the influential & powerful w/ a...   |   Wife has a poor prognosis cancer – How do I stay... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.