This is “kataginu” (shoulder cloth), only the upper vest of kamishimo without a trouser. Kami-shimo simply means top and bottom in Japanese. It was a high ranking samurai’s formal attire when they attended official meetings at the Edo castle. It was worn over kosode (kimono with small sleeves) with trousers. The shoulders are arch shaped and this was the style that developed in the late Edo period (1603-1868). Longer trousers (approx. 1.5 times longer) were chosen for special occasions. The small sword, “chiisa-gatana” and fan were added to finish the look as part of their dress code. The Tokugawa government was occasionally forced to step in to limit the competition among daimyo (regional lords) with their attire.
We have several “kataginu” with the same family crest of “tea berry” at this time. The colors, fabrics, shape and the way that they were made are beautiful. The owner must have been pretty keen on his appearance. They may be well preserved and look good but are old and not wearable. Kamishimo has also been worn as a costume for rare traditional events or by theatrical musicians and dancers in Kabuki up to this day.
The color is a beautiful moss green, 27 1/4" wide x 31" long.