Yo! Mural is an ongoing art series that sources work of all mediums from our community around a given theme. Through this series, Yo! Magazine hopes to showcase talent, share inspiration, and encourage dialogue.
During obon festival season, I see the happi coat as an emblem of Japanese American heritage.
It’s not as traditional as the full kimono or yukata, but instead a gentle nod to Japanese culture as an identifier of one’s involvement in a community organization, church, basketball team, or taiko group, with a coordinated outfit to reflect one’s own personal style.
In the “young adult” demographic, you’ve seen it at obons on guys paired with khaki or basketball shorts, a t-shirt or tank underneath, maybe a cap, and a footwear choice of slippers, Vans, or Nike Air Max. You’ve seen it on girls styled with denim shorts or leggings paired with some Converse or slippers. You’ve seen it on moms paired with shorts or cropped capris, strappy sandals/slippers or athletic shoes, some sort of hair piece or visor, and a crossbody bag/purse to hold food/drink tickets, your kachikachi, etc. And you already know what I think JA dads would be wearing.
For all intents and purposes, it’s safe to say that the happi coat is an obon classic. But who’s to say classics can’t be jazzed up? Enter stage left: a handful of talented and artistic friends in our Yo! Magazine network. We asked them to contribute a unique happi coat design and they did not disappoint. Be sure to check out all of their designs, read a bit about each of the contributors, and let us know which ones you loved!