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Okinawans pleased with Prime Minister’s fashion

Date Posted: 2005-06-10

Kariyushi wear is a traditional mainstay in Okinawa, worn half the year by locals in lieu of more formal clothing.

The popular shirts are common on the streets of Naha, but now local manufacturers are beaming at attention stretching beyond the Prefecture. Kariyushi wear has been a warm summer mainstay as a pseudo-uniform for civil servants, bank workers, travel agencies and even hotel and restaurant staff uniforms. Airport and souvenir shop employees are also embracing the casual, comfortable apparel.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi upped the ante for local shirt manufacturers earlier this month when he showed up at a Tokyo government meeting wearing a Yaeyama minsa kariyushi shirt. He’s declared the open collar look to be acceptable government-wide for daily use, rejecting coats and ties on grounds they’re too hot in Japan’s sweltering summer.

In conjunction with the switch to cool, easy wear shirts, the government is appealing for offices to turn the air conditioning to 28 degrees as an energy conservation measure. Officials say the move could lead to potentially huge savings in energy costs. Women are praising the move, saying the cold air conditioning has been tough on them, reducing blood circulation.

Okinawa Prefecture and the local Hotel Association are joining tourism agencies in touting the kariyushi wear as a travel plus. Factories are scrambling to manufacture more to meet demand. Officials point out there’s no large scale kariyushi wear manufacturer presently in business, so there’s a new market.

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