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Tracing the Roots & Funky Allure of 'Yankee' Gangster Fashion from Kisarazu

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When you hear 'Kisarazu', what image comes to mind?
While today it's often associated with commercial facilities like outlets, Kisarazu is also the city where the popular band Kishidan was formed, and the setting for the hit 2002 drama "Kisarazu Cat's Eye."
Even for those not from Chiba Prefecture, there seems to be a certain familiarity with the city of Kisarazu, and it's probably not just the author who feels this way.
In such a city, the established men's clothing store 'Asahiya Kisarazu (hereafter, Asahiya)' has its premises. In the current retail landscape dominated by department stores and large chain stores, a street-level men's clothing store is quite rare.
From the city of Kisarazu, known for its saline breeze, bright sunshine, and 'Yankee' (ヤンキー) gang-ish youth culture, Asahiya aims to deliver exciting products. What kind of store is Asahiya? This time, we had a direct conversation in the store itself.

The Deep History of Kisarazu & Asahiya

Asahiya, a little-known 'Yankee' shop, was founded in Meiji 39 and has a history spanning over a century.
Originally, it primarily sold work clothes and tabi socks related to national railway construction.
The name 'Asahiya', which appeared on old maps, came from the location of the shop which received plenty of morning sunlight.
After the war, as times changed, Asahiya began to sell imported denim, sukajan jackets, and suits, gradually shifting towards becoming a men's clothing store.   
When exactly did Asahiya start being recognized as a local 'Yankee' shop, one might wonder.
"It was around the late 70s to 80s. Back then, schools did not have different uniforms as they do now, so Asahiya also handled school attire like dokan and bontan pants, but not school jackets. We had trousers custom-made by manufacturers.
"At the same time, we also started dealing in men's casual wear. Since then, the store might have acquired a mischievous image," a representative shared.
Though no longer available, back in the day, Asahiya supported many students by offering ready-made clothes in S, M, & L sizes.
Considering Kisarazu has many schools and the significantly larger student population before the demographic decline, it makes sense that Asahiya's modified school attire became popular so quickly.
Moreover, Kisarazu was the only place nearby for local students to hang out, which added to the reasons.
Furthermore, Asahiya was a regular haunt for Kishidan's Ayanokoji Sho and often featured in the media, which also served as a hook.
"As far as Asahiya is concerned, we never really saw ourselves as a Yankee shop (laughs). It gradually became known to the public through television and other media appearances," they explained.
The store interior is dominated by prominently displayed koi-kuchi.
Koi-kuchi, known as short-sleeved jackets worn over kimonos to prevent them from getting dirty during work, derives its name from its sleeves resembling the mouth of a koi fish. While not commonly known, you might have seen people wearing koi-kuchi at festivals or food stalls at least once.
"Koi-kuchi might be associated with a manly image, something like the actor Susumu Terajima wearing one, but about four or five years ago, they became popular at the Kishidan Banpaku Festival because they stand out, and recently even girls have started buying them.
"With festivals resuming post-COVID, koi-kuchi sales have significantly increased, prompting us to stock up early this year," they noted.

The Unexpected Image of 90s GALFY & Fabulous Men's Items

Currently, the street fashion GALFY is popular among youths, but it had a more outlaw image in the past. However, Asahiya's perception of GALFY is slightly different from the general view.
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