Socks & Underwear ー 靴下と「楽ぱん」

I lived with the Nakae family for several months in 1984.  This was near Hirakata, Japan, smack half-way between Osaka and Kyoto.  I had — and still have — a Japanese dad, mom, and three sisters:  the eldest a year older than me, the middle sister about my age and the baby of the family, Yuko, who was just going into the 9th (10th?) grade when I was a college student at Kansai Gaidai (Kansai Foreign Language University).

I will talk a lot more about the Nakae family and what they’ve meant to my life — and the life of my American family — in stories to come.  Many adventures and emotional wringers, highs and lows, have intertwined my life with the Nakaes’.  I love them all so.

From "Heart Message Socks'" website. (that's not Yuko, just some stock photo)

Yuko inherited the family’s sock business, design and manufacturing, when her dad retired from it close to ten years ago.  They don’t manufacture anymore, but Yuko’s an incredible designer.  She sells socks and other apparel online.  Her company is “Heart Message Socks.” (or, in the Japanese, ハートメッセージ靴下).

Heart Message Socks make women’s socks, men’s socks, children’s socks, baby socks, socks for special occasions and holidays, athletic socks, knee socks, and can embroider socks with names or special, personalized messages (from “Happy Birthday” to “Thank you, Daddy”). And . . .

All kinds of socks . . .

.    .     .

Yuko’s also designed a new type of men’s underwear.  That separate company and the product’s called “RakuPan” (楽ぱん) - literally, “Happy Pants.”  Unique in the world, in fact.  They have the look and feel of very comfortable briefs, while the front provides a separate compartment for one’s, uh, Joy Department.*  Here’s a rather graphic — by American standards — set of design drawings and schematics, an example here:

RakuPan / Happy Pants ... lets the air flow.

Even better, this 1-minute video . . . that rocks:


I don’t have the time or inclination to translate all this, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me.  Enjoy.

.       .       .

* Hat tip to Red Dwarf.

  1. What! You’re not modeling the Happy Pants for us? Boo-o-o-o-o-o-o-! 😆

      • letsjapan
      • September 24th, 2010

      I actually have the only 2 pair in the Western Hemisphere. They’re a bit small on me, though. I will, in fact, be writing about that evening in 2004 when sister Yuko and my (Japanese) mom put me in a pair (as their first, I’m thinking so far only, Western guinea pig) and, in a very no-nonsense, workwoman-like manner, got me all “arranged” as “Snap” looked on . . .

    • michelle
    • September 24th, 2010

    I love my socks!!! .. And I remember that story with the modeling the undies… cute!

      • letsjapan
      • September 24th, 2010

      Yes, over the years I’ve given away many pairs to many friends and family. Yuko and her family have always been most generous in sending me back with bags stuffed to the gills with socks — mostly women’s — to give away. I look forward to the day when I can assist in fashioning (so to speak) Yuko’s business to really open up the U.S. market.

    • Lois
    • September 27th, 2010

    I believe I was conscripted to accompany Nakae-san about town on the day of your nuptials. There was a mention of socks, yes, which was somewhat mortifying as I recall, because I’d mixed up the word with that of ‘shoe.’ Some tour guide!

      • letsjapan
      • September 27th, 2010

      Goodness, Lo! world’s collided that day (on so many levels, of course). So, you — from Winnipeg/Vancouver/Ontario, who had been to and through Birmingham once about a 1/2-dozen years before — were “conscripted” as you say, to take Japanese dad around town? Welcome to Southern Gothic Comedy (he says, 10 years and several months after the fact).

      So “kutsu” (靴) and “kutsu shita” (靴下) got a little mixed up for you? I’m thinking that of in attendance, no one would’ve come closer than you (other than me, and I was occupied that day preparing to enjoy the savory goodness of 5 years of mostly delicious sugar-coating which, as I came to find out, was wrapped round a chewy nougat of pain). I wore a pair of Japanese Otou-san‘s socks that day, of course. He brought them over for me to were during the ceremony. Alas, they didn’t bring me luck; or perhaps they were talismanic in that they saved me from some never-to-be-known horrific accident that day (though the one of saying “I will” still springs to mind as the Big Enchilada of the Day). One can never know, of course.


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