Between the past and the present… Learn about the design and meaning of the “Samurai” national team uniform participating in the World Cup soccer tournament

Finally, the FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar on November 20. The Japanese national team will play its matches in a uniform based on the concept of “origami”. In this topic, we highlight the designs of the official uniforms of the Japanese national team that appeared in the World Cup competitions.

Origami is a symbol of prayers that bring joy.

The Japanese national soccer team’s uniform has been redesigned for the first time in about three years. And it has been used since the international friendly match with the United States national team held in Germany on the twenty-third of September this year.

The basic concept of the design is based on “origami”.

At the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, 2.7 million origami cranes took to the skies over the Yokohama International Stadium (now Nissan Stadium) to celebrate the winner after the final match. From this scene, origami became a symbol of prayers that bring victory and joy.

Moreover, the march of the Japanese national team, which has continued to develop after going through periods of “boom and decline”, is nothing but “folds of mountains and valleys” in origami.


Japan 2022 home kit designed by Adidas Japan. Same design for men and women.

The home away kit is based on the color blue and features the graphic origami design on the front, folded stripes and open shapes. It differs from the regular uniform in the presence of the Japanese flag. Until now, the flag was placed over the crest on the left side of the chest, but this time it was placed on the upper back. The advertising department of Adidas Japan explains this and says: “The design includes a message that says: ‘At the same time that the players take responsibility for the country on their shoulders,’ the fans support the players and push them from behind. ‘”

In addition, the player’s number on the back has turned yellow, after taking into account the clarity of vision when watching matches on TV or smartphone.

The red badge on the inside of the neck area is from the kit worn by Japan when they became champions of Asia in Qatar in 2011.  With wishes to
The red badge on the inside of the neck area is from the kit worn by Japan when they became champions of Asia in Qatar in 2011. With wishes to “make joyful moments in Qatar again!”

On the other hand, the away kit is a white shirt, and black was used for the first time in the shorts. As in the home away kit, graphics based on the origami concept were mainly drawn on the sleeves, and a method called “embossing” was used to give a three-dimensional impression by overlapping blue and red.

Save outfit with interlocking origami figures.
Save outfit with interlocking origami figures.

On his impression of the “new combat uniform,” Japanese national team player Minamino Takumi said, “It is an honor for the players to play matches in the blue uniform of the Japanese national team. It is a design that makes you say: “Let’s put it on and fight!”.

“When I was a high school student, I remember going to the national tournament with a thousand origami cranes (senbadzuru) given to me by a former alumnus,” player Asano Takuma said excitedly. I believe there is power in origami loaded with wishes and prayers, so I want to go with that power in games. I want to continue the traditions and everything that the Japanese national team has done so far, play with all my might, even though I am inexperienced, and contribute to the victory.”

The player is Minamino Takumi.
The player is Minamino Takumi.

Bring back memories of the Japanese national team in the World Cup

The Japanese national team is called “SAMURAI BLUE” after the color of the blue uniform they wear. When Japan participated in the World Cup in France in 1998, Asics designed the uniforms, but after the Japan Football Association contracted with Adidas Japan in 1999, the company has supplied all the tournaments since the World Cup in Japan and South Korea .

Nakata Hidetoshi plays in a 1998 kit (for the French World Cup) designed by Ashics.  The flame pattern on both sides has a special impression, and it does
Nakata Hidetoshi plays in a 1998 kit (for the French World Cup) designed by Ashics. The flame pattern on both sides has a special impression, and it is also called “flame uniform”. The costume is designed in the shape of the Karorain flame that the Buddhist deity Fudomyo carries on his back. Kyodo Agency.

2002 World Cup Japan and South Korea (reached the last 16)

Concept: Mount Fuji

The simple design expresses the beauty of Japan. The red border running from the left and right necklines to the cuffs of the sleeves is an image of “upside down Mount Fuji” reflected on the surface of a lake.


“Mount Fuji” costume at the 2002 Japan-South Korea Championships.

World Cup 2006 Germany (first round exit)

Concept: sword

As the Japanese team is famously called “Samurai Blue”, the design expresses the “Japanese sword”, which is a symbol of Japanese tradition and technology. As the “sword edge” ripples appear on the blade, the costume expresses to fly high from the land surrounded by the beautiful sea of ​​Japan’s blue to the pale blue sky (world).

The
The “Sword Edge” costume at the German Championship in 2006.

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (reached the round of 16)

Concept: Wings leading to revolution

To achieve the goal of reaching the World Cup semi-finals set by coach Okada Takeshi, the design idea was based on the idea of ​​”wings that lead to revolution.” The front of the shirt is decorated with feathers inspired by the Japanese football symbol, the legendary Yata Crow. The red square at the top of the chest also makes a special impression. Two types of uniforms are designed with different functions, and players can choose between them according to their playing style and court conditions.

    The
The “Wings That Lead to Revolution” costume at the South African Championships in 2010.

World Cup 2014 Brazil (first round exit)

Concept: circle of togetherness

The design is based on the “Circle” concept so that players and supporters can fight together as one. And the phosphorescent line is placed on the back to express one big circle formed when players and fans form a circle of solidarity. The eleven lines on the left side of the chest, extending from the center of the logo, represent the players who form a circle of solidarity and then take to the field to play the game.

The
The “Ring of Solidarity” uniform at the 2014 Brazilian Championship.

World Cup 2018 Russia (Reach the last 16)

Concept: the color of victory

Going back to the origins of Japanese blue, the base color is a very dark indigo, which is a traditional Japanese color meaning “the color of victory.” The “sashiko figure (embroidery with white thread on indigo cloth)” contains the message that the players, coaching staff and fans who built the history of Japanese football will play in the Russian championship matches. The V-shaped neckline is decorated with the color “victory red”, which expresses the color of the red sun disk, inspired by the front of the samurai kimono.

The
The “color of victory” kit at the Russian Championship in 2018.

Special Issue No. 1

In the previous tournament in Russia, the public relations person of Kumamoto Prefecture, “Kumamon”, who is popular abroad, was given a special uniform by the Japan Football Association. By the way, the number 55 is taken from Kumamon’s Twitter account name.

A Kumamon figure wearing the uniform of the Japanese national team with officials from the Kumamoto Prefectural Football Association (May 17, 2018, Kumamoto Prefectural Building in Kumamoto City), © Jiji.
A Kumamon figure wearing the uniform of the Japanese national team with officials from the Kumamoto Prefectural Football Association (May 17, 2018, Kumamoto Prefectural Building in Kumamoto City), © Jiji.

Special Issue No. 2

Adidas Japan designs and manufactures the uniforms for the Japanese national team as well as the official FIFA World Cup uniforms, and so far continues to offer innovative designs and functionality.

For example, the 2020-2021 uniform is based on the concept of “Running Japan.” The sky seen by each player and fan from where they are located is interconnected, and the scene of transition to a cloudless “bright Japan” is expressed with “different shapes of sky” using five different shades of blue. And the back is a single bright and vibrant sky blue color.

The
The “Rising Japan” costume is highlighted as an innovative design from the Japanese art of yokyoe. This uniform was also worn at the Tokyo Olympics.

(Originally written in Japanese. Banner photo: Japan’s squad before the international friendly with the United States, dressed in “origami” attire (September 23, 2022, Düsseldorf, Germany), Jiji. © Text by Nippon.com, photos The Japanese national team kit provided by Adidas Japan)

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