Original U.S. Vietnam War “Sukajan” Embroidered and Patched Souvenir Jacket
Original Item: Only One Available. Now this type of jacket has more history than we anticipated. The “base” of this jacket is what the Japanese call a Sukajan, or souvenir jacket. And this is what we found on the Sukajan, and it’s a rather interesting history and evolution!
The roots of the Souvenir Jacket, or Sukajan in Japanese, can be traced back to American soldiers stationed in the Pacific Theater following the end of World War II. During the post-war occupation, American troops began getting traditional Japanese designs hand-stitched into the backs of their jackets to commemorate their time in Japan. Popular designs included Japanese (and Chinese) style dragons, cherry blossoms and trees. Other soldiers chose local artwork that ranged from traditional maps to Geisha girls. These jackets would often incorporate rayon and silk and, in some cases, were actually constructed from excess silk salvaged from military parachutes. These jackets were brought back to the United States as literal souvenirs and sometimes were purchased as gifts for family members and close friends. Other than the embroidered designs themselves, this style of jacket is defined by its cut, which is similar to a classic American baseball jacket. They often incorporated bold colors and contrasting sleeves. The origin of the term ‘Sukajan’ is contested; with some believing the word was an amalgamation of Sky Dragon Jumper in Japanese. Others trace the origins of the name to Yokosuka, an area where American soldiers were stationed; simply combine the words ‘Yokosuka’ and Japanese-accented ‘Jumper’ and you get ‘Sukajan.’
New conflicts in Korea and Vietnam saw the style extend outside of Japan. The souvenir jacket became ingrained as a popular style for soldiers, and were offered at any city where American GIs were stationed. The brutality of the Vietnam War was especially reflected in the designs of these Souvenir Jackets: often, these had a darker, more morbid outlook and featured political or anti-war sentiments. Many jackets from this era, like this one for example, were embroidered with the phrase “When I Die, I’m Going to Heaven Because I Served My Time in Hell.” These new conflicts brought the jacket outside of just Japan and made it a part of military culture across Asia.
Besides the quote mentioned above, other features of this beautiful jacket include an embroidered/patch of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with locations for Hue, Danang, Quangai and a few we cannot read, next to the date 69. Now we do not know if this is where the veteran was during the war and year, but it’s a strong possibility. Scattered throughout the front, back and sleeves and numerous unit and rank patches, some humorous and some official military patches. One of the patches appears to be a shoulder rocker type of patch that features the words “Sorry about that Vietnam” which just adds to the significance of this type of jacket.
This is truly a wonderful example of a Sukajan! This jacket was worn as an expression type of piece, he was proud of his service, but rebelled against the nature of it in a way.
Comes ready for research and display!
Collar to shoulder: 10”
Shoulder to sleeve: 22”
Shoulder to shoulder: 19.5”
Chest width: 22.5"
Waist width: 22”
Hip width: 22”
Front length: 30"
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