* Japanese school uniform: headwear types cap hat styles

Japanese School Uniform Headwear: Specific Styles

Figure 1.--Here we see some younger Japanese children on a field trip to Nara. The uniform was gingham H-bar shorts and skirts. The school iniform included a wide-brimmed hat for both boys and girls. Note the older girl from the school assisting the teachers and parents.

There are several different styles of headwear, both hats and caps, worn by Japanese school children. The specific style seklected is up to the individual school to select. Severl are familiar with modern Western school children. Others seem based on more historic, although Western styles. Interestingly the origins are different Europen countries and America. We do not yet know the Jpanese terns for these different styles of caps. Hopefully one of our Japanese readers will provide some information here. Some are also difficult to describe in English as they are not all now worn by American or European children.


Berets might be classified as a type of cap, but as they do not peaks they are not true caps. Berets are not commonly worn headwear at Japanese schools. We have noted berets being worn, but except for special occassions, mostly by girls and pre-school boys. They are also worn as part of PE-uniforms for school atletic performances. Presumably sonmething like sports day (figure 1). As far as I can tell they were mostly worn for these special occassioins. Presumably the school had other headwear for everyday usage. We have also noted school choir groups wearing berets. I am not sure what the Japanese term for beret is.


Most Japanese school children wear headwear. Caps are the most common tyoe of school headwear. Most boys and many girls wear caps to school Caps are worn at both schools with uniforms and unlike hats also schools without uniforms. Commonly boys and girls had diffeent cap styles, but this was not always tghe case. Sonmetines the boys wore caos and the giurls hats, but never visa versa. The most popular cap style was once Japanese army hats and Prussian cadet caps. The Japanese army hats are no longer worn. They went outvof style after World War II. The Prussian cadet caps are still popular, especially at secondary schools. Today the baseball cap is the most popular style in primary schools. They are often brightly coilored, a safety fearure for the younger children who walk to dschool.

Army caps

Japanese boys at first wore Prussian cadet caps as school headwear. We note during the inter-War era we an increasing number of boys wearing Japanese army uniforms. This may have begun even earlier. This was a cap style only worn by boys. We do not see girls wearing the army caps. As some schools the army caps were appear to be worn on a seasonal basis. They were very common during World war II. We continued to see them after the War in the 1940s, but they had modtly disappeared by the 1950s.

Baseball Caps

Another style worn in Japan is the baseball cap. Japan is one of the few counties outside JNorth America where baseball is popular. Baseball was introduced to the Japanese during the post-World War II American occupation. After sumo it is the most popular sport in modern Japan. This appears to be a style of school cap that has grown in popularity in popularity in recent years. We note Japanese boys wearing both baseball caps and some caps thar with shorter bills that look some like British peaked school caps. We note baseball caps being wirn ar some schools that otherwuse had no school uniforms. Some of these caps may have been worn soecifically for gym. We notice some caps that were reversable and done in two colors. This was useful when dividing into teams for gym class. Some of these caps had chin straps, but we bnotice that boys often did not use them.

Floppy Caps

I'm nor sure what the proper name for these caps were. The cap had a soft crown with a circular bill. Japanese boys varied as to how they wore this brim. Most of the caps we have noted are blue. Some schools had yellow versions for saftey reasons. These caps campe with chin straps. I'm not sure why the chin straps were needed, I assume to keep the caps from blowing off in the wind. Some schools insisted the boys wear their caps with the chin straps. Not all schools had caps, but we have noted these caps being woirn at several schools. Even some schools without uniforms had the children wear these caps.

Peaked Caps

Japanese boys have worn English-styled peaked school caps. This seems most popular at private schools. We note one school in particular that had a very British-looking uniform. This style now, however, is not very common. The related American-style baseball cap with a larger peak was more popular.

Prussian cadet caps

The most destinctly Japanese school cap is ironically the Prussian cadet cap. It was adopted after the Meiji Restoration when Japan began building a modern education system. It show the Japanese admiration for Prussian military prowess. Prussia had just scucceeded in defeating France in the Pranco-Prussian War which permitted th unification of Germany. The Japanese chose the style not so much because they admired Prussian education, but because they admired Prussian military prowess. The cap became the standard school cap worn by boys until Japanese army caps began to be worn in the inter-War era. Some boys wore it with traditional garments. Other boys, especiallyin secondary school, wore full Prussian cadet uniforms. We ee many boys after the turn-of-the 20th century wearing the Prussian cadet caps wil full cadet uniforms. A good example is Toba Shousen High School in the 1900s. After World war II the cadet continued to be worn by the boys at most secondary schools. We alsi see it at some primary schools, alwats schools that had the OPrussian mcaset jacjkers as a unbiform.

Zouave Cap

Private schools often have elaborate hats. One such example is worn at Tsukuba. I'm not sure how to describe the cap. It looks rather like the uniform caps worn by French Zouave soldiers. I'm also not sure what the Japanese name for this cap is. And interesting feature is the poms on the cap. The primary age boys wear with its poms. The boys in the kindgergarten wear red poms on their caps. The older elementary boys wear white poms. This style is just worn by the boys. The girls have a more conventional hat.


Many Japanese school vhildren also wore hats, both boys and girls. Usually hats were worn at schools with uniforms although there were a few exceptions. Hats were most common for girls, but we see some primary boys wearing hats. At scome primarie the voys wear caps and the girls hats, but at somne schools both the boys and girls wear hts. Hats are especially common in secondary schools where most girls wear hats with their sailor dress uniforms. We note several different styles of hats worn at Japanese schools. Boaters had flat crowns. Most other hats had rouded crowns dine with varuioys styled brims. Hat bands and streajers varied. Mostvhad chin straps, but the children often did not use them.


The boater was a hat style briefly worn by Japanese men in the ealy 20th century. We see a few schools using the boater as the school uniform headwear. They arec only worn, as far as we know, at a few private schools. We note both boys and girls wearing boaters, but they may be more common for girls. We do not yet have enough information on these hats to be sure. We note some stylistic differences such as the height of the main body. And of course the colors of the hat band varied, usually coordinated with a tie. They may have been worn seasonally, but we are not yet positive about this either.

Rounded-crown hats

The rounded-crown hat overlaps with the various brim styles. We see both hard hats as well as softer construction. We also see them made in a variety of didderent material. It is often to determine the material from a photograph. We see canvas-like material, felt, straw, and suiting. We think there were also plastic material used, but we are not yet positive about that. Most seem to be blur, grey, or white. The bright colors used with caps were not very common with these hats. They were worn mostly at primary schools. They were most popular for the girls, but we see boys wearing them at quite a number of schools. At sone schools the boys wore caps and the girls wore these roubnded-crown hats. They were dine in variuious styles, the most important variation was the brim. We note narrow znd bef=g=dium brims, but rarely wide brims. We note variuous hat brims and streaners. We think tht virtually all were doinbe with chin straos, by=ut the children did not always use them.

Sailor Hats

One of the most common cap styles is a a variety of versions of the sailor cap. Many have rounded crowns with the brim turned up. This is most commonly worn by girls. Some boys wear them, usually at private schools where uniform styles often persist for decades. The Keio hat is black felt, worn by both boys and girls. The Keio uniform was adopted, I believe, well before the war and the round felt hat and Etonesque collar reflects European children's fashions of the 1920s. Others sailor styles have versions rather like the caps worn by American sailors, only in blue and with the brims turned down. This is often worn by boys.

Wide-brimmed Hats

We have noted some younger apanese children wearing wide-brimmed hats with rounded crowns. They were not excceding wide brims, butv wide-brimmed hats note-the-less. We have seen older primary boys wearing them less commonly. They were normslly worn with chin straps. This was a style worn by both boys and girls. The colors we have noted or white or shades of white.


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Created: 7:10 PM 3/17/2008
Last updated: 3:35 AM 8/12/2012