Hello Kanji Fans! Today, I want to share an interesting question from a follower! Have you ever seen this short kimono?

I heard this kanji says “No 1” but what does that mean?

kanji on the short kimono souvenir from Japan

It’s a very popular souvenir from Japan and Japanese people call this kind of short kimono “happi (半被)” or “hanten (半纏)” depending on its shape.

So, why does it say “一番”?? Actually, this design is based on Firefighters culture in Edo era! 

hikeshi_firefighter_edo era

KansaiChick is here for help. (*’▽’)/

That Kanji on the Souvenir Kimono

As this follower heard from somebody, it says “一番 (ichiban)” which means “No.1” or “First”. The top character “一 (ichi)” is “One”. And the bottom one “番 (ban)” is often used for words related to number or order like; “番号 (bangou: Number)”, “順番(junban: Order / Turn)”, 番付(banduke: Ranking List).

This one says “No.1”. So, some people might imagine “No.2”, “No.3”, and more exist. And they are right! There supposed to be more numbers.

However, at souvenir shops, we’ve never seen other numbers.

Why Does It say “No.1”?

edo era firefighter

by mag.japaaan

First of all, this souvenir is designed as a firefighters uniform in Edo era. There were 16 firefighter teams in Edo City area (around Tokyo today) at that time.

So, “一番 (No.1)” means that he is a member of Edo City Firefighter Team No.1.

And as we know, there is only “No.1” in souvenir shops. I asked a manufacture and they answered “we considered that only one number is just enough for souvenir”. That’s true.

By the way, the white stuff that he has in these pictures, is called Matoi, which is a fire site marker.

Thank you so much for the question again!

Today’s Kanji Shirt is “Guts”! Go, Edo City firefighters!

Japanese Kanji T-Shirt Guts


If you want to know the meanings of any Japanese kanji that you don’t see English subs for in a particular animation or live action movie, tell me “Name of the Show”, “Season and Episode #” and “the Exact Moment (Minute: Second) if it’s available”!

If it’s just Japanese kanji that you see around you, like a shop sign or a tattoo, you can send me the photo as long as you are allowed to take picture of it.

I can’t promise to reply to everyone but I’ll try my best!

Email to: info@kansaichick.com