Japanese Boys' Foreign-Language Clothing Glossary: Unknown Japan

Figure 1.--

We have only just begun our Japanese glossary, pulling together the Japanese terms from the Japanese section of HBC. As we have no Japanese language capability, here we have to rely on an on-line dictionary and our Japanese readers. Hopefully our Japanese readers will provide us more Japanese terms to add to the glossary or correct and refine the terms that we have found.

???: A HBC reader tells us that he has never noted Japanese boys wearing lederhosen. HBC has noted some younger Japanese boys wearing knit shorts rather styled like lederhosen with an "H"-front halter. We have no idea what the Japanese term for lederhosen is. Lederhosen or modern leather short pants appeared first in the German state of Bavaria. I'm not sure when they were first worn. I assume they have originated with knee breeches and gradually become shorter. Thus you would assume they probably originated un the 18th Century. There are two types of lederhosen, short pants and knicker-like pants. Lederhosen were also worn in rural parts of Austria and Switzerland. They are often associated with the local popular folk music. Boy scouts and other youth groups in those countries, like the Hitler Youth, also sometimes wore them too. Boys in the 1920s-40s wore them much as modern boys wear jeans.

???: I do not know the Japanese term for romplers. The romper was in many ways the beginning of a revolution in children's clothes. It was the first true play suit and the first garment (other than dresses and pantalettes) designed for both boys and girls. One of greatest change in children's clothing occuring after the turn of the century was the declining custom of dressing boys in skirts until the age of 4 to 6 years ended. While the custom did not disappear until the beginning of the 1920s, it became increasingly less common as the century progressed. One of the reason for this decline was the appearance of rompers for younger children. Other fashions appeared for little boys. One of those fashions were one-piece romper suits which were worn by both boys and girls. Older boys wore short pants. In America, School-age boys wore knickers.

?? seifuku: "Seifuku" means uniform. The Japanese word for school uniform is "gakuseifuku". This applies to all school uniforms for all ages and both genders. "Gaku" is prefix meaning academic; I am not sure what the word for Scout or youth group is. Boys since the 19th century have worn various types of uniforms. The idea of wearing uniforms have varied greatly in popularity in different historical periods. Uniforms were very popular with boys at the turn of the 20th century. The idea bof wearing a uniform has become much less popular with most boys by the end of the century.

???: Francis Hodgson Burnett, an English-born American, helped popularize a style of dress for boys that proved exceedingly popular among romantically inclined, doting mothers. The author modeled her famous fictional creation, Cedric Erol, after her own son, Vivian, and thereby condemned a generation of "manly little chaps" in America and Britain to elaborate, picturesque outfits. The actual description of Cedie's suits were rather brief in her book, Little Lord Fauntleroy. Perhaps even more influential than her text in popularizing the style were the lavishly detailed drawings by Reginald Birch, the artist who illustrated Mrs. Burnett's story. Whether it was the book or the illustrations, combined they were responsible for an enduring vogue of boy's clothes in the romantic style of the Cavalier/Restoration or Van Dyck Period worn by the young American hero of the story.

???: I'm not sure of the Japanese word for tights. Tights or garments looking like have been worn for centuries. Ove most of this era they were worn by adults, mostly men, and not children. They fell from style in the late 16th century as men began wearing knee breeches. They appeared again in the 19th century for specialized wear such as theatricals and athletics. They did not become coomonly worn children's clothes until after World War II in the late 1940s and early 50s. Children wore over the knee stockings in the early 20th century, but these were usually stockings and not tights. Conventions for wearing tights have varied from country to country. Very young boys might wear tights in America and England, but they were mostly worn by girls. In coninental Europe and Japan it was more common for boys to wear them. Tights were for many years befginning in the 1960s woren by preomary school boys. They are still worn by very young Japanese boys with short pants for cold weather dress-up; before the second world war, many boys through 8th grade wore long stockings with short pants, but the fashion died out after the war and was repaced by tights. Older boys wore shortpants and knee socks even in thewinter despite the cold. If it were brutally cold (i.e., the severe winters of northern Japan), they would wear long pants.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: October 16, 2001
Last updated: July 21, 2002