Tobifuku, Japanese steeplejack work clothes has really strange, characteristic design. This style to look strange at a glance, however this closes has high function due to manage of safety and efficient works.
Starting with jikatabi – steeplejacks usually work in high places, and some become specialized professionals in that field. Therefore, wearing heavy footwear such as safety boots makes it difficult to get a strong toehold, so in high places it becomes difficult to get a firm grip on the edge of the scaffolding. With jikatabi the toes are separated, so you can use the whole foot and the toes to keep your balance, to check the width of the scaffolding, and to grip the edge of the narrow scaffolding.
There is a secret to the large hem size of the cropped baggy trousers, or knickerbockers – popularly known as “nikka” – that are worn by steeplejacks. As they climb up and down the dangerous scaffolding, steeplejacks usually build up their leg muscles and their thighs become big and strong. So when they are working, regular trousers would make stretching and bending difficult, whereas nikka have the advantage of allowing ease of movement.
And while regular trousers would catch on the various nails or protrusions on the columns and beams on site and this would cause injuries, with nikka it is only the trousers that get damaged, so accident injuries can be avoided.
Also, they can show the other workers down below how strongly the wind is blowing. It is easy to see this from how much the nikka flutter in the wind. Finally, they also give a sense of distance. As the nikka touch the columns and beams, workmen can sense the distance between themselves and the columns without looking down.
This strange designed uniform has a deep meaning.
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