Kasa – traditional Japanese hats

Kasa is a term used for group of different traditional Japanese hats. Word kasa turns into gasa when preceded by a word specifying the exact type of hat. Some of the kasa hats are Amigasa, Jingasa, Sugegasa, Takuhatsugasa and Sandogasa. Amigasa is a traditional straw hat used in some Japanese folk dances like for example Obon.

Amigasa hat
Amigasa hat

Jingasa (jin means military) or “samurai hats”, like they are also known, were used in second half of the Edo Period (1700-1860). There were different types of Jingasa - Bajo-gasa (Riding Caps), Ichimonji-gasa and Toppai-gasa. Jingasa hats were made of iron, leather, paper, wood and bamboo.

Almost all hats had painted surface. The main colour was black. Black was used for hats worn by lower class samurai warriors. Those of middle rank wore vermilion hats. Daimyo (local Lord) wore those of golden colour. There were also hats with black or red base and vermilion or golden specks on them. The Jingasa often had “mon” marks on them. They were "Aijirushi" or "Kinship" marks which showed relations inside certain clan. Samurais were not the only who wore the Jingasa hats. They were also worn by some craftsmen or even farmers.

Asian conical hat
Asian conical hat

Sugegasa is the Japanese version of Asian conical hat. Apart from Japan the hat is also worn in other parts of East and Southeat Asia. In China this hat is called “dǒu lì”. In Korea similar hat is called “satgat” and is usually worn by local monks. The Vietnamese call it “nón lá” ("leaf hat"). Sugegasa is a good protection from the sun and rain. The hat is kept on the head by a chin strap. The strap is often a silk one.

Takuhatsugasa hat is made from woven rice straw. It protects the person wearing it from strong sunlight and rain. Its shape also enables kind of protection of one's identity as it partly covers the wearer's face. Very similar hat to Takuhatsugasa is Sandogasa. It just has a different shape.