Kojima in Kurashiki city is known as the sacred land of jeans, even outside Japan.
Founded in 1962, Betty Smith is a well-established brand that was Japan’s first manufacturer of ladies jeans. The company established the Jeans Museum & Village to convey the history of these timeless garments.
At the garment factory of the Kurashiki headquarters, even now skilled staff create Betty Smith products using sewing machines. You can even come and observe the manufacturing process through a window!
Next to the sewing factory is Jeans Museum I.
Originally the museum was established to convey the history of jeans and the manufacturing process to local elementary school students’, but as the facility’s fame gradually spread, the number of observers increased to the point of it becoming one of Kurashiki’s main sightseeing spots. Over 40,000 visitors per year stop by from both Japan and overseas.
At Jeans Museum I you can learn all about the history of jeans going back to their American origins.
There are plenty of invaluable pieces on display, too, such as a replica, supplied by Levi’s, of the model that became the prototype for “501XX”, and a vintage sewing machine imported from the USA at the time.
On the second floor there is a salon for order made jeans. Starting from having your measurements taken, choosing the fabric and parts, and even deciding the treatment method, you can have a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans made that fit perfectly.
At Jeans Museum II you can learn about the history and transitions of the Japanese jeans born in Kojima.
Displayed within the museum is an exhibition of the machines used for the cutting and washing processes as well as representative models that were released at each time period by Japanese brands Big John, Bobson and Betty Smith.
Bobson was a sponsor for auto racing in the 90s, and this is the outfit that the race queens at the time wore. The air of the era comes through naturally.
The factory experience is particularly popular at the facility. Here you can experience part of jeans manufacturing.
First, if you buy a pair of jeans at the factory shop, you can choose buttons of various colors and shapes, rivets, and leather patches, and attach them by yourself using a machine. Staff are on hand to help with the process, so you can experience jeans manufacturing safely and easily.
You will surely grow fond of the jeans that you made with your own hands, and use them for a long while.
Lastly, let’s visit the outlet store operated directly by the factory.
It’s Betty Smith’s only outlet store! You can find good-value seconds and slightly sub-standard samples.
This is EcoBetty, a popular product.
This pen case, made from left over fabric and parts from the sewing factory, is apparently a long seller.
In addition, they’ve also developed accessories and bags, among other products. As the fabric is strong and the designs are lovely, they are sure to be good souvenirs.
How about visiting the charm filled Jeans Museum & Village? It’s almost like a theme park for jeans!
Betty Smith Jeans Museum & Village
Address: 5-2-20 Kojimashimono-cho, Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture
Open: 9.00-18.00 (Including the shop)
Closed: New Year’s Holidays
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yumi Kobayashi
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