Japan’s Noragi Is the Best Transitional Jacket You’ve Never Heard Of

A new company in Oakland has updated a traditional Japanese workwear piece with a more modern, American fit

akashi-kama noragi jackets
The latest collection of Akashi-Kama's Noragi jackets
Akashi-Kama
By Walker Loetscher / August 27, 2019 8:53 am

In the Bay Area, you can never have too many jackets.

Light jackets. Heavy jackets. Rain jackets. Wind jackets. Formal jackets. Casual jackets. If you’re gonna be wearing one damn near every day, you need to diversify. And there’s probably nothing in your current collection quite like the Noragi, a Japanese-style work jacket that’s now being made right in Oakland by Akashi-Kama.

Just now in its second season, Akashi-Kama is the creation of Alec Nakashima, a Silicon Valley product manager who decided to launch his own venture after his company was acquired last year. “It just happened that around that time I went to Japan on a trip,” he tells InsideHook. “It’s basically like this bridge-building trip. Not a lot of people know about it, but they send Japanese-Americans completely paid for by the government on a bridge-building learning trip to Japan.”

akashi kama noragi jackets
The second collection of Akashi-Kama’s noragi jackets

While overseas, Nakashima took a special interest in Japan’s singular and inimitable flair for menswear. That’s how he found the noragi, which he calls “Japan’s version of a straight-up farmer’s work wear jacket.” Their answer to a Carhartt chore coat, if you will.

He knew that with a few modifications, the jacket would be a hit back home in the States. “I wanted something that split the difference between a Japanese aesthetic and an American jacket that I could wear day to day. Something that took a Japanese aesthetic — and specifically the collar design that I really like — and made it more for the modern guy or gal.”

To achieve that, he retained the basic silhouette but brought the typically flowy sleeves and body in a little tighter, like you’d expect from a blazer. “I wanted to make it more cut for the modern gentleman, more tapered,” says Nakashima. “I brought in the sleeves a lot. Kept the collar the same. There’s a really cool detail that is very American and super not traditional Japanese, which is the aglets.”

akashi kama noragi jackets
A close-up of the aglets on every Akashi-Kama jacket

And, of course, he makes all the garments from imported Japanese cotton. “I fell in love with fabrics going street to street in Japan during the markets, touching all these Japanese cottons and being like, ‘Holy shit, this is so versatile.’ So no compromises there — it had to be Japanese cotton.”

The latest collection of Akashi-Kama’s noragis (the company’s second) are all cut from double-gauze Japanese cotton, and you’ve got three options for color: a deep indigo, gray-blue “fog,” or light-blue chambray. Nakashima recommends wearing them on any warm days when you still want to “layer it up,” with an otherwise simple outfit like jeans, tee and clean white sneakers — “because it’s already such a statement piece.”

The jackets run from $125-139, and you can pick one up online here. The first collection sold out in weeks, so you’ll probably want to get on in the rotation ASAP (which is when you should be wearing it, anyway).