Friday, August 6, 2010

Child's boku-zukin

Today is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and so I thought it might be an appropriate time to post a picture of this very special item from my collection. This is a small child's 'boku-zukin' fabric air raid helmet.  These hoods were standard wear for children during the extensive bombing in the final year or so of the war. They were  more commonly made from sturdy indigo cotton and a thicker wadding than this one which is very light and about the right size for a baby or toddler. It's made from a very fine striped silk from an adult's kimono with patches of two other fabrics in the lining.  The person who  made it - probably the child's mother - has gone to the trouble to add the decorative stitching  around the edge. The red tie which is made from a piece of a child's kimono is attached with a large herringbone stitch. There is something very poignant about the care that's gone into making this item which the mother must have known would offer  little protection if it was needed.


  1. Thank you Wafuworks. As a complete non-expert in fabric history, I nevertheless find your blog extremely interesting. The link between design and social history is particularly fascinating.
    As a graphic designer the colours and pattern designs are quite inspiring.
    Please keep it up!

  2. Thanks Pete. That coming together of social history and aesthetics is one of the things that I enjoy about what I do. It especially moves and interests me when we're looking at things which were made by people 'making do' in difficult times.

  3. Hello,

    I am writing a book about a man who experienced WWII as a child in Kyshu. He did not have a formal boku -zukin, but his mother made family members a similar protection from zabuton. Might I use the picture you have here in the book, please?

    My email is

  4. Greetings: I am writing a family history book also -- about a woman who survived the fire bombing of Tokyo and describes wearing one of these. May I have your permission to include your picture in this book? It will be for her family and friends only and less than 100 copies.
    Many thnaks.
    Gwenn Jensen

  5. Thanks Gwenn, that's fine. I'll email you.