* Japanese school uniform garments : hosiery

Japanese School Uniform Garments: Hosiery

Figure 1.--While many Japanese boys have worn kneesocks, they are now not as popular as they once were. Kneesocks, especially white ones are commonly worn by girls.

The majority of uniformed Japanese schools do not seem to have a sock requirement perse, or at least one which is very strongly enforced. One has to remember that there are two types of uniformed elementary schools in Japan--public, and private. Public schools (and I would guess about 1/3 the public schools require uniforms) typically have a very simple navy lapeless jacket and navy shorts uniform. White socks seem often to be required, but the type of sock (ankle or knee) is often not specified. Some private schools require navy kneesocks, but most don't much care about the length of the socks. This seems a curious departure from an often rather strict uniform code. Tights are also worn at a few schools in the colder northern part of the country.

School Types

The hosiery worn by Japanese boys is at least in part a reflection of the type of school attended. Uniforms are more common and the rules about wearing them stricter than at state schools. For some reason the rules about hosiery are less strict than for other school uniform garments. They tend to ve strictest at private schools, but even here there is a degree of variety not the case for other garments.

Hosiery Types

Japanese boys over time have worn a wide range of hosiery types as part of school uniforms. Younger peimary school children often wear short pants as part of the uniform. Often this was required. Some children at these schools wear tights during the winter. White tights were the most common for formal occasions. Tights were especially common for boys in northern Japan. Japanese elementary children through World War II (1941-45) often wore long stockings with the generally long knee-length short pants, especially during the winter. Long stockings generally disappeared after the War as shorter-length short pants became more popular. Many Japanese the elementary schoolboys once worn kneesocks. This appears to be much less common as many boys now wear ankle socks, even during the winter. The schools are uncharacteristically lack about this. Most schools with uniforms were not strict about the socks worn, but others were quite strict. Boys at other elementary schools requiring shorts allow boys to wear ankle socks, again primarily white. Often the school does not impose a standard type so boys may wear both ankle and knee socks. Some schools insist on at least a common color, although some schools even allow some variation here, at leasr white, blue, and grey socks. Bright colored socks would probably not be permitted.


Many Japanese schools with uniforms are quite strict about the uniform and how it is worn. Sometimes teachers are even posted at the gate to make sure that the boys arrive wearing their caps with chine straps or checking other aspects of the uniform. The boys normally have to wear shirts, jackets, and shorts of a precise color and brand. Curiously at most schools there is much less attention given to hosiery. Normally a color may be closen but the boys can wear either kneesocks or ankle socks. Nor does keeping kneesocks pulled up seem to be a major issue as was the case at some British schools. Some timese even variations in the brand and detailong are allowed. We are unsure why hosiery appears to be a matter of less concern than other elements of the uniform. Japanese schools probably tend to be less strict with socks and shoes than their British counteparts because shoes are usually taken off at the school entrance and replaced with a kind of slipper worn inside the school.

Additional Information

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

New Zealand E-book: A new e-book book on New Zealand schools in available. (This is not part of the HBC site.)

British Preparatory Schools E-Book A new e-book book on British preparatory schools is available, although it is not yet completed. (This is not part of the HBC site.)

Boys' Preparatory Schools: Lovely photographic book on British Preparatory Schools during the 1980s with over 200 color and black and white images.


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Created: March 3, 2000
Last updated: 1:19 AM 8/3/2012