Skip to main content

Rain Cape

Curated Submission
Shonai, Yamagata Prefecture, Tohoku, Honshu Island, Japan
1930 – 1940
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
149 x 60
Materials & techniques
Linden tree bark, seaweed, grass, cotton fabric; Twisted, knotted, weft-twined
Gift of Marilyn White
Textile Museum of Canada T2011.1.1
Renewable plant materials from the local environment have been used historically to create clothing in Japan. Traditional rain capes (kera) were made from grass, straw, or bark. Once indispensable for daily life, they faded from use when plastic raincoats became available after the Second World War. They were traditionally worn in the rain and snow when working in the fields or mountains, and provided thick padding for the shoulders and back, which protected the body when carrying heavy loads. This example was purchased in Kyoto in 1960 by Marilyn White and her husband, who were travelling around Japan by motor scooter while on their honeymoon. After discovering the cape in a local craft shop, they fell in love with it, packed it on their scooter, and eventually brought it back to Canada.
Everyday kera were unadorned, but those worn at festivals, weddings, or other celebrations were decorated with embroidered yokes. This example is a date-gera and was worn for formal occasions such as the New Year and other celebrations. It was made with a grass called mige, dried and softened, and decorated with linden tree bark. Strands of seaweed (hamagusa) are dyed black and attached. When the guests wore a date-gera, it was a formal visit. Today kera have become a decorative art.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners