Kasa The Mikado poster

A traditional straw Japanese hat

A Kasa is any one of many traditional Japanese woven hats made from straw or similar. These include Amigasa, Sugegasa, Tengai and Jingasa. Kasa is “umbrella” in English but depicted by a different Japanese character.

The design of Kasa often identifies the occupation of the wearer and when prefixed with a word specifying which type of hat it is, Kasa becomes Gasa eg. Amigasa, Sugegasa etc.

At first, Kasa were made to protect workers and travelers from the elements while traveling and working, but over time, they became more decorative.

Materials used to make Kasa were natural fibrous types such as bamboo, sedge, straw, rush, wicker and grasses. Kasa were often waterproofed with lacquer or tree sap, although some materials were already water resistant.

Kasa was often painted, most commonly black, with gold and vermillion and gold worn by the upper and middle class respectively.

Variants of Kasa include: Amigasa, with a circular shape folded in half with sloping sides often seen in folk dance; Jingasa is a hardened warrior hat worn by samurai and ashigaru and bearing a crest; Sugegasa are woven conical straw hats worn by farmers; Takuhatsugasa is a basket-like rice-straw hat worn by Buddhist monks, masking their identity and allowing undistracted meditation.

Types of Kasa

  • Ajirogasa
  • Amigasa
  • Fukāmigasa
  • Jingasa
  • Roningasa
  • Sandogasa
  • Sugegasa
  • Takuhatsugasa
  • Tengai
  • Torioigasa

Kass making materials

  • bamboo
  • sedge
  • straw
  • rush
  • wicker
  • grasses