Japanese Traditional Clothing: Samue
What Are Japanese Samue?
Samue is a type of traditional Japanese clothing. The original form was "Uwappari" or "Monpe" worn over a kimono. At first, samue was worn by Buddhist monks when performing their daily labor (samu). They are still used in temples today.
The wearing of samue eventually spread to artisans. Over time, it became regarded as a garment worn by those involved in traditional Japanese cultural arts.
Today, samue are widely popular among the general public as loungewear and daily use. Their ease and comfort of wearing, the spirituality and history peculiar to traditional Japanese clothing with a collar, and their chic appearance are attracting renewed attention.
What Is It like to Wear Samue?
Each samue is a set consisting of a top (jacket) and bottom (pants).
The jacket is tied at the inner and outer sides with two strings and has a collar like a kimono. The waist of the trousers is made of elastic or strings, making them adjustable and eliminating the need for a belt. The width and hem of the trousers are loosely made. The ankle portion is often tied with elastic or strings to prevent dust and debris from entering from underneath.
Originally created for wearing while doing manual work and chores, samue are functional and allow freedom of movement. Despite their practicality, they have a Japanese-style collar (eri), so as to ensure the wearer does not deviate from propriety.
Where Do Samue Come From?
"Samu" in the word samue refers to all kinds of labor, such as cleaning, performed by Zen monks as part of their mindfulness training. Like zazen, it is an indispensable part of Zen Buddhism and is still practiced today.
The samue is a "robe" (koromo) worn while performing samu. Initially, it did not have a specific shape. As a result, it evolved into a comfortable yet elegant garment that is easy to wear and work in. In recent years, it has spread as comfortable and fashionable clothing for practitioners of traditional Japanese arts and the general public alike.
What Are Samue Made Of?
Samue are often made of hemp, cotton, and polyester. Some are made of silk or wool. Various fabrics, from thin to thick, are used according to the season and climate.
Can Anyone Wear Samue?
Yes, anyone can wear samue. Samue is the closest Japanese-style garment to western clothing. They are unisex and designed to be worn loosely, with the size adjustable by means of strings. This makes them great choices for gifts.
Traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos are known for being difficult to put on and restricting movement. Samue, on the other hand, are easy to wear and allow you to move freely.
How are Samue Worn?
To wear a samue jacket, slip the sleeves on and tie the inner and outer strings together in two places.
Pants can be put on just like jeans or other pants. There are two types of pant hems: elastic and string. Pull the string around your ankle and tie it if there is a string. If the pants have a waist strap, adjust the strap like a belt to fit and tie it.
When Can I Wear Samue?
In short, samue can be worn for any occasion or situation.
Some people wear them for going out, while others use them as loungewear while relaxing. Samue are perfect for wearing while doing gardening or housework, being active, or meditating.
In Japan, inns and hotels sometimes offer samue to be worn as pajamas. Many have taken this habit home with them.
Samue vs. Jinbei — What’s the Difference?
While samue and jinbei appear quite similar, there are four major differences.
1. Pants: The major difference between samue and jinbei are the pants. Whereas samue pants go down to the ankles, jinbei are half pants that go down to the knees.
2. Sides: The next major difference is that most jinbei have sides woven with thick and strong thread to improve ventilation.
3. Sleeves: Samue jacket sleeves are usually longer than those of jinbei. Samue sleeves come in long, rolled-up, and elastic varieties.
4. Seasonality: Jinbei are designed to keep the wearer cool during Japan's hot and humid summers. Samue are worn year-round and come in variations to match the season.
Do Samue Come In Different Sizes?
Children's sizes range from 90 cm to 150 cm. Adult sizes range from SS to 4L. Samue were initially designed to be worn loosely. If you are worried about the fit, it is better to choose a large size.
What Is the Difference between Women’s and Men’s Samue?
Samue are essentially unisex garments. As long as the size fits, a samue can be worn by both men and women.
That said, in our store, you will see "Women's Samue." These are made in sizes for petite women and come in more feminine designs and colors.
How Do I Care For My Samue?
Laundry labels indicate how to care for each garment, so be sure to check it before washing.
Machine-washable samue can be washed with other clothes in a standard household washing machine. Using a laundry net is recommended.
Do not use a tumble dryer, as it may cause the fabric to shrink. Do not use fabric softener for summer samue and jinbei, as it may cause the fabric to shift and tear. Do not use detergents containing bleach.
For hand-washable samue, wash by pressing gently. Samue dyed with plants such as persimmon or indigo, will fade when washed, so be careful not to wash them with other items.
How to Dry
1. Remove the garment immediately
2. Stretch out wrinkles by hand (folding and patting the garment with your hand will further elongate wrinkles)
3. hang dry in a well-ventilated, shady place (direct sunlight exposure may cause fading or discoloration)
How to Iron
Samue made of natural fibers tend to wrinkle easily, so ironing them with an appropriate cloth will give them an even more beautiful finish.
In the case of summer samue (Omi chijimi, yoryu, shijira, etc.), the fabric has been purposely made uneven called "shibo," so pressing with an iron will remove the good qualities of the fabric. Therefore, if steam is applied without pressing, wrinkles can be removed without losing the "shibo".
What Should I Look for When Buying Samue?
We offer samue in different materials and thicknesses depending on the season. We recommend selecting one according to the time of year you wear it and your area's climate.
Are you buying it to relax in your room, go out, or do some active work? The shape of the sleeves, number of pockets, and fabric may differ depending on the intended use.
As for the size, consider focusing on the waist because if the waist does not fit, the garment cannot be worn. Refer to the size chart and choose a larger size if you are in doubt.
What Makes Wasuian’s Samue Special?
We own and operate a factory specializing in making traditional Japanese garments; samue, jinbei, and hanten. It's located in Gunma Prefecture's Kiryu City, which has a 1,300-year history of textile production.We manufacture the widest variety of samue made in Japan.
At Wasuian, we are working to attract and train young artisans. This ensures that Japanese traditions and techniques are adequately handed down to future generations.
We work with textile factories throughout Japan and use a wide range of materials, from those used for more than 1,000 years to the latest technology. We have inherited the original techniques of Japanese-style clothing in terms of the collar, shoulder specifications, and sewing methods while proposing uses and designs that match modern life.
Wasuian's values are "tradition and modernity," "old and new styles," and "inheritance and innovation."
Where Can I Buy Samue Made by Wasuian?
We accept orders online via our official website at WasuianJapan.com. We carefully ship each item directly from Japan to any destination worldwide.
Of course, if you are visiting Japan, feel free to stop by our headquarters, which is located in Gunma Prefecture. We have a store attached to our factory where you can see, touch, try on, and purchase our authentic samue.
Our address is:
6-429-1 Sakaino-cho, Kiryu-shi, Gunma 376-0002, Japan
Whether you visit us or shop online, we look forward to being of service.