Lifestyle clothing to wear out in nature and out in town, twelve months a year—this is the concept behind Juuni-no-yohinten, a small brand launched in Kochi in 2017. The originators are the Kochi-born couple Kota and Kyoko Takahashi. Kota immersed himself in mountain climbing as a university student, and after graduation, he moved to Nagano Prefecture seeking a job in the mountains. Having acquired woodworking skills there, he returned to Kochi and took a job in furniture making before launching Juuni-no-yohinten.
“The only clothes available for hikers until then was sportswear. We had no other choice. Since my wife was a dressmaker, we said let’s try our hand at doing something about it. In the beginning, we were like two self-taught amateurs going through a process of trial and error. After a series of improvements, we arrived at a completed product.”
They posted the product on their online store, and it sold out right away. This has become their signature product, the “monpe pants.” Monpe is a type of traditional work pants that was worn widely throughout Japan. The monpe pants retain the advantages of the original while adapting the shape to the modern lifestyle. The shirred waist reminiscent of a haramaki bellyband provides a comfortable fit for all physiques, and the pants have no front or back. This design caters to all tastes, regardless of age or gender, and it’s creating a buzz in outdoor circles and beyond. In short, it’s a modern monpe that can be worn for hiking and as casual town clothes.
In December 2020, the couple opened a physical location in Tosayamada-cho, Kami City, featuring Kyoko’s diner Juuni-no-shokudo. The building is a unique standalone house with the first floor facing the street serving as the flagship store, and the second floor extending from the garden serving as the couple’s residence and workshop. Kota and Kyoko enjoy a work–life blend with their pet dog Kyumaru.
“For me, outdoor activities started with mountain climbing, but as the years passed by, the concept of outdoor activities itself seemed to have faded away. From mountain climbing to fishing, every activity is part of my daily life and not a special event. To phrase it a bit differently; I don’t want to lead a life where going outdoors is special. Kochi offers a perfect environment with the mountain and the ocean close by. I hope more people will spend time in nature as part of their daily routine, and I hope to offer equipment that will encourage that kind of lifestyle. I want the store to develop into a community hub.”
As for myself, the writer of this story; I’m writing this story wearing a pair of monpe pants. The sun isn’t too bright on this afternoon, and after I shut down my computer, I plan to work the soil in my kitchen garden. Of course I have no need to change clothes. How fun life is when you blur the boundaries!