Okayama: Museum Highlights History of Jeans, Manufacturing Process

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors admire pairs of jeans on display at the Jeans Museum in Kurashiki City.

KURASHIKI, Okayama — A museum that illustrates the history of jeans in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, is now a popular spot that draws about 50,000 visitors a year.

The Kojima district in the city was once known as “Uniform Town” because of the thriving production of student uniforms, but is now better known as “Jeans Town.”

Betty Smith, a Kurashiki-based manufacturer that sold Japan’s first women’s jeans, opened Jeans Museum I in April 2003.

Inside the facility, the walls are decorated with jeans from various periods, including a reproduction of the Levi’s “501” jeans the U.S. maker produced more than 100 years ago, as well as those made in the United States in the 1890s.

There is also a sewing machine that was used in the 1960s, when production of jeans began in Japan, and the history, background and manufacturing process of jeans are described in an easy-to-understand format.

Next to Jeans Museum I, sits Japan’s oldest existing jeans factory, which has been in operation since 1962. Visitors can learn about the history of domestically manufactured jeans at Jeans Museum II.

They can also produce their very own original pair of jeans there.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors create original jeans.

The museum is about 10 to 15 minutes by bus or taxi from JR Kojima Station. Admission is free.