Japanese School Uniforms Garments: Kneesocks

Figure 1.--Many Japanese schools requiring uniforms have strict standards about the socks. This school requires blue kneesocks, but the boys are allowed to wear white ankle socks. Perhaps the boy here wore them for gym.

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. The most common color is white kneesocks, but blue are also common and grey are sometimes worn. Other colors are not common. Kneesocks were once commonly worn by Japanese school boys, even schools not requiring uniforms. Most knee socks are not the turnover type worn in England and New Zealand.


Boys at many of the elementary schools requiring short pants wear kneesocks, but there is often no requirement and it is left up to the boys parents. Kneesocks appears to have declined somewhat in popularity. They do not seem to be as commonly worn as they once were. By the 1990s kneesocks had become less common and were mostly worn at schools requiring uniforms. Kneesocks were once commonly worn by Japanese school boys, even schools not requiring uniforms. Boys at non-uniform schools now rarely wear kneesocks--especially white kneesocks.


While many boys wear kneesocks it is not normally an actual requirement, except in a few private chools. Many elementary schools do set the color of socks which must be worn with short pants uniforms. Normally they require white or blue socks or less commonly grey, but the length is not normally specified. Some schools just specify dark socks and many do not requite any specific colir. Many boys do wear kneesocks, particularly in the winter. Remember that the Japanese pay much less attention to socks and shoes than is the case in some countriues where uniforms are common such as Britain. One Japnese contributor reports that while many schools require white kneesocks, she cannot think of any school with a white kneesock requirement. Requirements to wear other colored kneesocks are also rare.


The most common color is white kneesocks, but navy blue or black kneesocks are also common and grey are sometimes worn. We have noted grey kneesocks being worn with short pants at dsome schools which did not have uniforms. Generally the schools with uniforms chose white or navy blue kneesocks. Other colors were not common. Usually a color was set by the school. At some schools the boys might be able to wear either blue or white kneesocks with their uniform, most other colors would be considered inappropriate and thus not be permitted.


Most knee socks are not the turnover type worn in England and NewZealand. Thus Japanese boys do not wear cuffed kneesocks. The kneesocks worn by both boys and girls are identical. As they are not turn-over-top socks, the kneesocks often do not come to the knee, especially if the boy has grown since they were purchased. Also there is no way of holding the socks up with garters.


Kneesocks used to be worn both during the summer and winter. To some extent they have become seasonal wear. Kneesocks are now more common in the winter than during the summer when boys more commonly wear ankle socks.


Some schools had special kneesocks for gym. Almost always these were white kneesocks. Interestingly some of these had turn-over tops (cuffs) which was not common with the kneesocks worm as part of the regular school uniform. This convention was especially common in the 1970s and 80s. This was the case in both in primary schools as well as secondary schools where the boys wore long pants school uniforms.


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Created: March 1, 2000
Last updated: May 9, 2004