Shitagi – Samurai Shirt

Shitagi is a term that refers to a Samurai Suit worn under the clothes. Simply put this is a type of shirt worn as a form of Samurai armor when they are about to wear their full armor during battle.

This is the next piece of garment that Samurais put on after they use their loincloth or Fundoshi. This shirt resembles a kimono although this is a short version of it. It has a button at the neck and thin attached waist cord or Obi.

This is simply worn like a standard Kimono. Thin cotton Shitagi is suitable for practicing Kendo or Iaido. This is identified as martial arts suitable undergarment.

There was a time when this was treated as a part of the Samurai Armor and not just a regular shirt. Shitagi is worn for Judo and Aikido.

This is usually made of cotton and has a cross-hatched pattern to make it look distinct from the jacket worn by practitioners. The materials use will facilitate the flow of the perspiration from the heavier weave on top.

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Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Shitagi

  • Using a shirt four feet long this will hang above the knees in most cases. The neck hole should be of the right size. The size will normally vary for this.
  • Sleeves are positioned on the left. The body is in the middle and the lapel is on the right side.
  • Fold the body part portion half along the shoulder line and use a pin on it to mark the center.
  • Fold the sleeve part in half along the shoulder line and place a pin as well. This will not call for the use of hem to the sleeve.
  • Open up the body and sleeves part and match these with the edges and pins. Using several pins is advisable as long as it will not prick.
  • After the pins are removed this is sewn together. Voila, a complete Japanese shirt.
Hayakawa Kyuukei [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Shitagi is different from the traditional Hadagi because this has a black neckband. The sleeves are shorter as well and worn under a Kimono. Some describe this simply as a Kimono inspired relaxed shirt that fits the wearer.

Some use linen blend fabric to make the shirt lightweight so that it can be worn all throughout the year without worrying whether this will damage the shirt.

Today, some designers are incorporating the use of this on their designs to make it more versatile. Some matches this with haori coats or hakama chino pants. This combines a century-old fashion to give it a contemporary twist.

This brings the use of this shirt into the modern age where it is not just used on martial arts practice alone or as a part of the armor worn by Samurais. High collar designs are said to protect the back of the neck against the chilly weather.

Although this is design as a regular t-shirt, however, this can be worn in the traditional manner under a Kimono. The two-hole button design will keep the wearer comfortable during hot and cold days.

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