School Uniform: Japan

The Japanese strongly believe in uniforms for both elementary and secondary school children.  The decision appeas to be up to the individual schools and there is no nationwide uniform.  Many schools, especially secondary schools, however, have adopted such similar uniforms along with a small number of companies producing the uniforms that there almost appears to be a national standard.

Most Japanese children go to state schools.  The private sector is relatively small, except for after school cram schools.  Uniform styles are very different in the elementary and secondary schools.  The decision on the uniform is up to the individual school.
Elementary schools:    Japanese elementary school children wear a wide variety of simple uniforms, usually consisting of caps, shirts, and shorts.  Japanese shorts have generally been cut quite short, although this is now beginning tomchange.  Caps  appear to be a required part of many school uniforms, unlike Britain where the traditional school cap has virtually disappeared.    The many styles of caps are often in bright colors.  Not only do young children like bright colors, but it is also a saftey measure so that  the children can easily be spotted bu motorists.  Many schools also require knee socks.  Younger children, both boys and girls, may wear tights instead of knee socks during the coldr winter months.
Secondary schools:  Japanese boys in secondary schools,  both intermediate/jub\nior high schools have traditionally worn military style jackets and caps.  The uniform looks quite standard all over the country, but this is probably because there are only a few manufacturesers.  The girls wear silor uits.  There are quite a few minor stylistic details in the middy blouses, but the use of the sailor suit is quite common.  I don't know why a military style uniform becamme common for the boys and a sailor suit for girls.  In recent years some secondary schools have begun to reassess the uniform,  They have replaced the military/sailor styles with more-British-looking blazer and pants/skirts.  This pricess is just beginning, but will likely become the pincipal style for secondary uniforms after the turn of the century.

Little information is available on the small number of private Japanese schools.  The authors believe, however, that most require school uniforms.

Unfortunately the Web Master has received no comments from the Japanese visitors to this website.  This is unfortunate as other than Americans, Japanese visitors are the most frequent.  Hopefully future Japanese visitors will provide more detailed observations on their country's school uniforms.

Figure 1.--Many Jaanese elementary school boys wear short pants uniforms, often with white socks. Sone schools also require blazers.

Additional Information

Related Links: Careful this will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but both sites are highly recommended

Apertures Press International Project: Pictures at schools in different countries and a book on British schools
Apertures Press New Zealand book: New book on New Zealand schools in progress
School Uniform Web Site Informative review of British school uniforms with some excellent photographs

Christopher Wagner
Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Late 19th century] [1930s] [1940s] [1950s] [1960s] [1970s] [1980s]

Last updated: April 11, 1998