Behind Bape

Examing the early roots of Nigo, A Bathing Ape, Last Orgy and beyond

A Bathing Ape, or BAPE, is one of the world’s most popular brands, specializing in streetwear and lifestyle clothing. BAPE’s founder Nigo is almost as famous as his brand, having collaborated with everyone from musicians  such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, to brands like Pepsi, Stüssy, and Adidas. Japanoscope has translated a 1997 interview with Nigo here

BAPE has inspired collectors around the world to purchase anything associated with the brand, with some of the collectors becoming popular on Instagram, and even getting interviewed about the extent of their collections.

What Does Bape stand for?

Bape is short for “A Bathing Ape In Lukewarm Water”. The initial concept came from Japanese illustrator and designer Skate Thing who got the idea after seeing an illustration of a monkey in a hot spring (itself an image famously associated with Japan). 

The other inspiration behind the name comes from the Planet of the Apes film, which features a society that has fallen down due to excess and hedonism. Nigo was a big fan of pop culture, including Planet of the Apes. In BAPE immagery, the ape can be seen as a symbol of human kind in its most “primitive form”. So the image of the monkey-man, sitting in Luke warm water, as if he had been lazing around in a luxurious bath so long that the water was starting to go cold, was an ironic dig at the consumer culture of the Bubble-era Japanese youth generation that Nigo was born into. 

 

Before starting the BAPE clothing line in 1993, Nigo was known as Tomoaki Nagao and he looked up to the Japanese musician and fashion icon Hiroshi Fujiwara, especially Fujiwara’s Last Orgy series. So what was Last Orgy?

 

Last Orgy 1

In 1986 Japanese musicians Hiroshi Fujiwara and Takagi Kan released their first music as Tiny Panx on the album 建設的(Construction), which was released as a joint album with Seiko Ito. The Tiny Panx name, which changed from Tiny Panx Organization, T.P.O., Tinnie Punx, Tiny Panx, Tiny Punx, and TPO depending on the release, was inspired by Fujiwara’s nickname given to him while he had spent time in London during the 1980’s. 

Inspired by his time in London and New York during the 80’s, Fujiwara had returned to Japan influenced by the exploding hip hop scene, and Tiny Panx became one of the earliest Japanese hip hop groups, who would support the Beastie Boys on their Japan tour in 1987.

In 1988 Tiny Panx released the song Last Orgy on the influential Japanese record label Major Force. This was Major Force’s debut release, and the label would go on to release music by Toshio Nakanishi aka Tycoon Tosh from Plastics and Melon, DJ Red Alert of The Wild Bunch, and the Japanese hip hop group Scha Dara Parr.

Last Orgy contains a mixture of English and Japanese lyrics, with the Japanese delivered in an English accent at times, making the lyrics almost hard to decipher.

 

 

Peter and Fumiko from Japanoscope listened through to the track and did their best to transcribe the words, and the below is their best approximation. XXXs represent bits they couldn’t take a good guess at. If anyone has a better idea of what this says, please let us know!

How to make / Loving is student
Now I’m telling you / Geisha Boys
You moving / まずはそこから
Feel the beat yo / ラップに決ら
Little punx / Listen while I say
All the bullshit / Try to walk this way
Got to keep xxxx / You don’t stop
その気になるまでやらなきゃど
Rhymingしなけりゃ始まらない
575resumeはget no fight / DJの作り出すリズムをget XXX / すかさずマイクでXXX
Deepになりたきゃ今Rock hard
Major Corporation Boyそうしたら
Xxx / 俺はMCカン
酔い出しゃ止まらぬBoogie Wonderland
Last Orgy / Just tonight
マイクのチエック123 / Check it on the needle
それどうり / Ready now
ひろしはいつでもTry to get busy
Tiny Punks / The place to be
黙っていれずに

Gonna Rock Baby Ready for rock yeah
用意は出来てる

Motherfucking Sucker / Kick it Strip it rest / ビートで dig it Xxx in the house / In the Tokyo posse Xxx / Xxx / Kicking the line? Tycoon Toshi gonna make you fine / まつだせいこ and Double Master X They’re in the Xxx one more sex

Last orgy / Last orgy just tonight

Last orgy / Last orgy just tonight

Kan’s rhymeは やくざ Machine gun おまけに中身はAin’t no冗談 目の前そのまま現実Hard core Watch out / いつでも体をCheck you? Xxx よりの近未来 チェルノブイリに Green Mile Straight to hell / ごめんだ wake up Punkもserious / Never see the future? Xxx / Keep the party / Never negative xxx on the mic / Like this Beep  Jump up / Movin’ and groovin’ and chillin’ and illin’ and xxx Xxx / Kan China Say yeah

In 1987 Fujiwara and Kan were invited to start a column in the Japanese magazine Takarajima, and they called the column Last Orgy, with the column making its debut in Takarajima’s July 1987 issue. Through the column they wrote about, promoted and recommended music, clothing, and film, focusing on what would become known as Street Culture. The monthly column became influential and spun off into a TV series airing on FM-TV in Japan, which featured the same content but this time in video. 

The July 1987 issue looked like this: 

Here’s Kan and Hiroshi scratching it up on the Last Orgy TV show.

One of their fans was a young Tomoaki Nagao who would record each episode of Last Orgy and re-watch them with his friends on repeat. Last Orgy influenced Nagao’s decision to move to Tokyo and enroll at the fashion institute 文化服装学院 (Bunka Fashion College) where he met the aspiring designer Jun “Jonio” Takahashi.

Tomoaki Nagao soon earned himself the nickname Fujiwara Hiroshi Nigo, Fujiwara Hiroshi Number Two, due to Nagao’s likeness to Fujiwara. Nagao embraced the nickname and he soon after met Fujiwara who hired Nigo as his personal assistant, with the two becoming friends. In 1993 when Nigo and Jonio decided to open their own store it was with the support of Fujiwara, and their Nowhere store became an important part of Japanese street culture history.

Last Orgy 2

While working as an assistant to Fujiwara, Nigo also began a part-time job at the Japanese culture magazine Popeye where he contributed a new column titled Last Orgy 2. This new column was written by Nigo and Jonio and served as a continuation of the Last Orgy by Fujiwara and Kan which had ended around 1990.

 

In 1991 Nigo and Jonio collaborated on the Last Orgy 2 t-shirts, which continued to be released into 1994. These featured assorted designs, from photography, to text, and were released through their Nowhere store, with the back of one t-shirt detailing the Last Orgy history and announcing that as of June 1994 the Last Orgy 2 column was finished but would be relaunching soon as Last Orgy 3.

 

For Christmas 1994 a Last Orgy 2 Stadium Jacket was released, and this design was later re-released in 2009 alongside several t-shirts, as part of a promotion for a new Nowhere store opening in Hong Kong. 

 

Last Orgy 3

In September 1994, Nigo and Jonio collaborated with Fujiwara on a new column titled Last Orgy III, which was now in the culture magazine Asayan. By now Nigo had his BAPE line, Jonio was running his Undercover brand, Fujiwara had his Good Enough clothing line, and the Last Orgy III column tended to focus on these brands, serving as a promotional advertisement for Nigo, Jonio, and Fujiwara’s brands, as well as promoting their Nowhere store.

You can see some Last Orgy articles in English translation here.

 

In 1995 there were still new Last Orgy 2 t-shirts produced, as well as a new Last Orgy song.

 

Record on Amazon

In the 1990’s James Lavelle had started the Mo’ Wax record label in England and collaborated with the Japanese label Major Force, eventually re-releasing most of their catalogue to a wider audience. Through his friendship with Major Force, Lavelle soon met Nigo and the pair became friends, with Lavelle soon inviting Nigo to record in the Mo’ Wax studios in London. This collaboration would eventuate in Nigo’s debut album Ape Sounds, a mix of hip hop and rock similar to Lavelle’s own UNKLE project. Nigo also collaborated with Lavelle on the Planet of The Apes inspired song Ape Shall Never Kill Ape, which featured members of Major Force, UNKLE, Nigo, and UK turntablists The Scratch Perverts all on one song.

During this period Lavelle also released a song called Last Orgy 3, which featured Takagi Kan rapping much like on the original Tiny Panx song which had released almost ten years previously in 1988. Last Orgy 3 first appeared in 1997 on a mix CD by Nigo and James Lavelle titled A Bathing Ape Vs Mo’Wax, and was later released on CD and Vinyl with several remixes in 1998.

Last Orgy 4…and beyond.

The final Last Orgy so far, Last Orgy Four was a t-shirt collection released around 2000, and is the only Last Orgy to have been released without an associated magazine column, tv series, or song sharing its title. Around this time Nigo and Jonio were contributing a column titled 4lom to Smart magazine, which was similar to Last Orgy and had begun in 1996 and continued in to the 2000’s, while Nigo also contributed his General’s Seminar columns to Relax magazine for several years in the early 2000’s.

 

IAlongside the 2009 re-release of the Last Orgy jacket was a Last Orgy shoe which released in 2010. The shoes were a collaboration with Nigo’s BAPE company and featured their Bapesta shoe design. Since then there has been little news of further Last Orgy lines, but the brands close ties to BAPE may be one of the reasons for the draught, as in 2013 Nigo left BAPE and is now working with the Japanese brand Uniqlo.

There are even Bape masks made for those that want to maintain style during pandemics. 

But what of the original Last Orgy creators, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Takagi Kan? Both of the original Tiny Panx have continued to work in their respective fields, with Fujiwara regarded as an important part of the Japanese fashion world, with his career recounted in two large English language books from publisher Rizzoli.

Meanwhile Kan continues to release music with Major Force, and in 2020 he has been putting on live performances via his Instagram page while the world has been locked down during the Corona Virus pandemic.

Further Reading:

Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style by Marx, W. David 
Hiroshi Fujiwara: Fragment by Sarah Lerfel and Ino Hidefum

Why is Bape so expensive?

Even though Bape makes street ware, the idea of “luxury” is part of its core. From the start, its branding was based around an ironic take on “A Bathing Ape in a Luke Warm Hot Spring”, meaning a primitive person soaking up the luxury. So its no suprise that Bape pricing reflects this focus on the hedonistic urge. 

This fits in with the larger trend within hip hop and street cultures to fetichize wealth in the form of gold chains, diamonds and brands. 

In a way, it is odd that this question is asked about Bape more than any other brand at the high end of the market such as, say, Apple. The cost of anything is rarely based on just the cost of what an item cost to produce.

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Contributor

James Gaunt is an artist, writer and musician based in Tokyo.

Traditional Japanese Pajamas Gallery & Guide

Japanese Pjs Gallery

寝間着

We spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping. Why not do it in style? Who says you have to look a grandparent when you get into bed? 

 

Japan has a lot of luxurious and exotic options for things things to wear between the sheets. A few options include silky kimono robes, more practical & understated Jinbei (which we’ve done a whole post about here) or a Yukata summer kimono, which would look equally at home at a festival in Japan. Let’s have a look at what’s out there.

A typical Jinbei

What is a Kimono?

First thing’s first, what does this word “Kimono”, which we all use, mean?Literally, “Kimono” really just means “clothing”. The two characters that make up the word are: 

着 “Ki” which means to wear

物 “mono” meaning thing.

So any “thing” you “wear” is a kimono. As Western culture was imported into Japan in the late 19th century, there began to be a distinction between kimono and “western” clothing, referred to as Yofuku 洋服  

Today Kimono is used in Japan to refer to any clothing that is traditional. So within “Kimono” you have a range of styles. Let’s look at a few which can be used as Japanese pyjamas.

Japanese Kimono Silk Robes vs. Jinbei vs. robe style Yukata

Yukata

Yukata ー The simplest form of Kimono. The Yukata is a robe that was traditionally worn before and after bathing. Over time, it has become a Kimono that is often worn at festivals in the summer months. Other kimono have a reputation for being difficult to put on correctly without practice. The Yukata, by contrast, is Kimono for the masses. They are also traditionally worn without any long undergarments.

They are traditionally made of cotton or sythetic materials.

Patterned Pajama Style Jinbei

Jinbei – are a bit closer to Western style clothing than a full blown robe-style Yukata. So they are a little bit less of an overt “statement”. They are also easier to slip on and off because you don’t have to worry about tying up your obi belt. A lesser known are a subset of Kimono, they are light cotton or hemp material top and bottom pairs that are made to be airy by including hatched gaps along the stitching.

Silk or satern kimono style robes and Haori

 There is a long history of women wearing Kimonos as Japanese night-ware stretching back to the Japonism movement in Europe. These long flowing robes, often made of silk or satern, have come to represent luxuriousness and exoticism. Today you see a lot of variations including shorter garments somewhere between a Haori (jacket or overcoat) and a full length Kimono.

Gustav_Klimt_-_Dame_mit_Fächer

Are Kimono worn by both men and women?

Cotton vs. Hemp

Since Kimono simply means clothing, yes, men and women did and do wear Kimono. There are plenty of sleepwear & Japanese pajama options for men & women.

Materials for Jinbei and yukata are roughly divided into cotton and hemp (linen), either of which may be 100% or mixed. The more cotton you have, the better it feels and the easier it is to clean.  Hemp tends to wrinkle more than cotton, but will give you a breezier feel.

Some garments also use Japanese paper, “washi”, as a mixing material – especially in some of the more high end examples.

The more luxurious robes use materials such as silk or satin.

Imitate Silk Pajamas Sets Long Sleeve Trousers Sleepwear Homewear Suit Women's Japanese Kimono Leisure Yukata Thin Thin Section

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Imitate Silk Pajamas Sets Long Sleeve Trousers Sleepwear Homewear Suit Women's Japanese Kimono Leisure Yukata Thin Thin Section

Traditional Japanese Kimonos Cardigan Men Women Sunscreen Thin Loose Summer Japanese Kimono Yukata Asian Clothes New

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Traditional Japanese Kimonos Cardigan Men Women Sunscreen Thin Loose Summer Japanese Kimono Yukata Asian Clothes New

Japanese Kimono Pajamas Set Pure Cotton Double-deck Gauze Women Autumn Yukata Suit Thin Printing Japan Sweat Steaming Suit New

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Japanese Kimono Pajamas Set Pure Cotton Double-deck Gauze Women Autumn Yukata Suit Thin Printing Japan Sweat Steaming Suit New

Japanese Kimono Loose Cardigan Pajamas Set Cotton Woman Yukata Femme Summer Short Sleeve Pijama Kimono Mujer Home Serve Suit

$13.27
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Japanese Kimono Loose Cardigan Pajamas Set Cotton Woman Yukata Femme Summer Short Sleeve Pijama Kimono Mujer Home Serve Suit

Women's Yukata Japanese Summer Bathrobe Kimono Mujer Verano Nightgown Full Cotton Long Sleeve Robe Lovely Pajamas haori Homewear

$12.84
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Women's Yukata Japanese Summer Bathrobe Kimono Mujer Verano Nightgown Full Cotton Long Sleeve Robe Lovely Pajamas haori Homewear

Gauze Cotton Kimono Yukata Men And Women Japanese Bathrobe Loose Pajamas Spring Summer Couple Home Service Robes Traditional

$13.93
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Gauze Cotton Kimono Yukata Men And Women Japanese Bathrobe Loose Pajamas Spring Summer Couple Home Service Robes Traditional

Stand Out Japanese Pjs from other online stores

Recommended Men's Jinbei

Cotton & Japanese paper made Jinbei from Ikisugata on Amazon

  • High-end, muted-tone Jinbei with 55% cotton and 45% Japanese Washi paper material!
  • Aerated seams
  • Pocket
  • Made In Japan
Dark Cotton Watanosato Jinbei on Amazaon

 

  • Cotton
  • Double stitched
  • pockets on front, pant side and back
  • Made in japan
  • Rich color
Jinbei M-LL image 0
Traditional Striped Jinbei on Etsy
  • Cotton
  • 2 piece
  • pocket
  • handmade
Watanosato Hemp Blend jinbei on Amazon

  • Made In Japan
  • Cotton 85% hemp15%
  • Aerated seams
  • Multiple pockets
  • Traditional navy
Ikisugata Jinbei Rich Black on Amazon

  • High end item
  • Cotton:55%, Japanese paper:45%
  • Made in Japan
  • Rich shijira black

  • Linen material
  • Comes with bonus Kinchaku-bukuro bag 
  • Made in Japan
  • In cool muted tones
Trad-style Jinbei on AliExpress
  • Cost effective
  • 100% cotton
  • Aerated seems
Patterned Pajama Style Jinbei on AliExpress
  • Unisex design
  • Cotton
  • Cost effective
  • vibrant colored pattern

Recommended women's Jinbei

Summer white & red jinbei on Etsy
Peony Floral pattern Women’s Jinbei on CDJapan
Women’s cute cat print Jinbei on AliExpress
Muted tone, large dotted jinbei on AliExpress
Women’s Pink floral Surugajino Samue on Amazon

Tokyoin breathable Matte Cotton on Amazon

Tokyoin Pink Breathable Matte Cotton on Amazon

Simple red & white Stripe Women’s Jinbei on AliExpress
Kawaii floral cotton Jinbei on AliExpress

Recommended children's Jinbei

Hot Biscuits Boats & Bears boys Jinbei on Amazon

Hot Biscuits butterflies and bunnies Jinbei on Amazon

Kid’s colored spots jinbei on Etsy
Japanese Kimono Jinbei Children/Imperial Kamon CREST/Japanese image 0
Imperial crest pattern Jinbei on Etsy

Look for more Jinbei options on Amazon

Look for more Jinbei options on Etsy

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

Contributor

Hi, I’m Peter.  I lived in Japan for four years as a University student completing a Masters Degree in Musicology.  I have succesfully completed the  highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N1).  have toured the country six times playing music and singing songs in Japanese and English.

All about Jinbei clothing (or Jimbei, Jimbe, or Jinbe if you prefer)

Get your Jinbei on

甚平

I love my Jinbei. In summer you can’t get me out of the thing. They are just so light and airy, with their open hatched seems and light cotton/hemp fabric.

Jinbei 1
A typical Jinbei

There is a long history of women wearing Kimonos as Japanese nightwear stretching back to the Japonism movement in Europe. Here’s a Klimt painting of a European woman in a kimono.

Gustav_Klimt_-_Dame_mit_Fächer
Klimpt painting of woman in Kimono

Jinbei are light cotton or hemp material top and bottom pairs that are made to be airy by including hatched gaps along the stitching. The great thing about Jinbei is that they pass both as pajamas and as casual wear that can be worn outside the house. In Japan, you sometimes see people wearing these at festivals, or around hot springs. A common pattern goes: relax in hot-bath, put Jinbei on for the evening, then wear them straight to bed.These garments are designed to be super cool for hot summer nights, loose fitting and comfy.

Are Jenbei worn by both men and women?

Cotton vs. Hemp

Traditionally Jinbei have tended to be worn mostly by men and children. Recently there are a lot of designs that have been made for women also, but the more robe-like Yukata (of which Jinbei are considered to be a sub genre of) are more common. 

Many of the Jinbei are “unisex”. Indeed the only real difference between these Jinbei is the coloring and visual patterns.

Jinbei materials are roughly divided into cotton and hemp (linen), either of which may be 100% or mixed. The more cotton you have, the better it feels and the easier it is to clean.  Hemp tends to wrinkle more than cotton, but will give you a breezier feel.

Some jinbei also use Japanese paper, “washi”, as a mixing material – especially in some of the more high end examples.

When to wear Jinbei?

  • In hot weather
  • In bed as pajamas
  • Going out to a festival
  • Before and after a bath

What to wear with Jinbei?

Generally people wear open footwear with Jinbei in the form of Geta. Sandals will do the job just as well.

File:Geta.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Jinbei vs. robe style Yukata

Jinbei are a bit closer to Western style clothing than a full blown robe-style Yukata. So they are a little bit less of an overt “statement”. They are also easier to slip on and off because you don’t have to worry about tying up your obi belt.

People often accessorize with tradional, such as a kinchakubukuro bag.

File:Kinchaku Sack.jpg - Wikipedia

Now you’ve got all the info you need to embark on your quest for the perfect Jimbei. We’ve searched across the internet to find a selection across a range of outlets:

Recommended Men's Jinbei

Cotton & Japanese paper made Jinbei from Ikisugata on Amazon

  • High-end, muted-tone Jinbei with 55% cotton and 45% Japanese Washi paper material!
  • Aerated seams
  • Pocket
  • Made In Japan
Dark Cotton Watanosato Jinbei on Amazaon

 

  • Cotton
  • Double stitched
  • pockets on front, pant side and back
  • Made in japan
  • Rich color
Jinbei M-LL image 0
Traditional Striped Jinbei on Etsy
  • Cotton
  • 2 piece
  • pocket
  • handmade
Watanosato Hemp Blend jinbei on Amazon

  • Made In Japan
  • Cotton 85% hemp15%
  • Aerated seams
  • Multiple pockets
  • Traditional navy
Ikisugata Jinbei Rich Black on Amazon

  • High end item
  • Cotton:55%, Japanese paper:45%
  • Made in Japan
  • Rich shijira black

  • Linen material
  • Comes with bonus Kinchaku-bukuro bag 
  • Made in Japan
  • In cool muted tones
Trad-style Jinbei on AliExpress
  • Cost effective
  • 100% cotton
  • Aerated seems
Patterned Pajama Style Jinbei on AliExpress
  • Unisex design
  • Cotton
  • Cost effective
  • vibrant colored pattern

Recommended women's Jinbei

Summer white & red jinbei on Etsy
Peony Floral pattern Women’s Jinbei on CDJapan
Women’s cute cat print Jinbei on AliExpress
Muted tone, large dotted jinbei on AliExpress
Women’s Pink floral Surugajino Samue on Amazon

Tokyoin breathable Matte Cotton on Amazon

Tokyoin Pink Breathable Matte Cotton on Amazon

Simple red & white Stripe Women’s Jinbei on AliExpress
Kawaii floral cotton Jinbei on AliExpress

Recommended children's Jinbei

Hot Biscuits Boats & Bears boys Jinbei on Amazon

Hot Biscuits butterflies and bunnies Jinbei on Amazon

Kid’s colored spots jinbei on Etsy
Japanese Kimono Jinbei Children/Imperial Kamon CREST/Japanese image 0
Imperial crest pattern Jinbei on Etsy

Look for more Jinbei options on Amazon

Look for more Jinbei options on Etsy

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

Contributor

Hi, I’m Peter.  I lived in Japan for four years as a University student completing a Masters Degree in Musicology.  I have succesfully completed the  highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N1).  have toured the country six times playing music and singing songs in Japanese and English.

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