Interesting Facts About Japanese School Uniforms

Photo: すしぱく on Pakutaso

Interesting Facts About Japanese School Uniforms


How to look attractive and cute while your going to school? Well, Japan has totally made it work. Japanese school uniforms were inspired by the European-style naval uniforms also known as sailor suits, where as boy's were inspired by the Japanese army. They try to make a school uniform that distinguishes the wearers as school age children but also looks attractive enough that they would want to wear it just like any other clothing. Even though there are a few changes on the outfit, the theme is always the same, sailor-like suits.

Photo by Vincent Diamante on Flickr.

The first sailor school uniform, called ‘seifuku’, was created in 1921 by Elizabeth Lee, the principle of the Fukuoka Women’s College. She got the idea from the naval guards after her experiences as an exchange student in the UK. In her time, all students wore kimonos to school which can be really warm in summer and difficult to walk around in. She saw that 'seifuku' are more comfortable and easier to wear. Within a few decades, the uniform entered a few schools and then became required outfit for students across the country developing into the sailor uniform we know of today.


Self-identity are the most important things to Japanese people. Therefore, students would more likely spend more time and money to design the uniform as how they would likely be seen by other people. Even if the weather changes, They’ve modified the uniforms to stay warm and comfortable, yet attractive.

Photo by Lordcolus on Wikimedia Commons.

As fall and winter comes, they usually wear a white shirt with sweater, a big ribbon, necktie, or neckerchief as accessories, a skirt, and a blazer as a jacket. Although skirts are not more than knees long, they will use a longer socks or stockings that are made of silk to keep their legs warm. While in spring and summer, blazers are unnecessary due to the hot temperature.

Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

Japanese uniforms are expensive to the cost of fabrics and design. Just by creating uniforms to their hearts’ content can cost about 8 to 20 thousand yen which has brought some economical advantage to many clothing manufacturers.

Kawaii Culture

Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

A school bag is a necessity to every student. Japanese school bags are a bit sporty and they use dark colours such as navy blue, dark brown and black to match their uniform but some girls who want to look ‘kawaii’ (Japanese terms of cute), they use light colours like pink or light blue. Decorating bags are part of the completed look. Using a few pins and charms to give some colour and fun. To give an expensive and exclusive feeling, students use "Randoseru" (ランドセル) which means a backpack. The price range is from $80 - $900 depends on the materials, the more money you spend, the better the longevity of the bag.

Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

As Japanese school uniforms are getting more popular, people from around the world buy a seifuku for cosplay. High demand may make it cost more than the original price in Japan. Japanese school uniform is now widely known for its existence in other countries from manga or Japanese comics. Anime and dramas frequently uses characters dressed in seifuku making it especially popular with otakus.

Although the popularity of the school uniform has grown exponentially, it hasn't changed much since it's creation. What began as an outfit meant to encourage kids to study, is now a cultural icon leaving it's mark in all kinds of media including movies, anime, even art galleries. Try one on, see how you like it.

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