Teachers Promote Proper Schoolgirl Skirt Length Poster

Poster promotes longer skirt length at high school  in JapanPosters promoting longer skirt lengths in Niigata high schools are causing a controversy. A group of high school teachers who also act as guidance counselors made the posters and distributed them to all high schools in Niigata prefecture in December 2008. At the end of January, school principals started the "Proper dress all at once together campaign". Parents were sent a follow-up document about the dress-code campaign in February. The material asks parents to instruct their daughters about skirt lengths.

There are three posters (pictured):
"It’s undignified for women" (white); "You can smarten your mind and your skirts if you’re motivated" (pink); "Beautiful style - Why don’t you change your skirt length?" (yellow). 

Many schoolgirls object to the prohibition of short skirts. Some schoolgirls wear sweat pants underneath so they can continue to wear short skirts during winter.

Hiroshi Uchikawa, principal of Koshi High School in Niigata city, and head of the student guidance staff, said, "We’d like students to think (about the issue) through the posters, rather than ordering them to change (the length of their skirts). There are some moves to make skirts longer."

Teachers check skirt lengths at high school in Japan Some teachers at high schools in Japan keep watch for too-short skirts, and if a surprise inspection catches too much exposed thigh, students are told to immediately correct the situation. Sometimes skirt hemlines have been shortened by rolling up the waistband of a skirt. Schoolgirls can quickly oblige a request to lower the hemline. But once out of sight of inspectors, the gals often re-roll-up the waistband.

One TV news report determined the average school uniform skirt lengths in Japan. FNN news reported school uniform skirts come to an average of 13 centimeters above the knee. FNN said high school girl skirt hems in Niigata are 15-18 centimeters above the knee. According to FNN, the shortest school uniform skirts are worn in Niigata, Sendai, and Mito. Medium-length skirts prevail in Tokyo, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa. The longest are in Osaka, and Kobe.

Some high school students from Niigata on a school excursion to Okinawa received complaints about the length of their skirts from Okinawa locals. The students were told their short skirt length was "unpleasant." The average high school uniform hemline in Okinawa is 7.7 cm above the knee.

TV report about high school girl skirt length in Japan Hiroshi Uchikawa, head of Niigata City Taka-shi high school and chairman of the Niigata District Student Guidance Liaison Council Assembly, says he’s aware that girls change clothes on the way to and from school. "The child shortens it according to surroundings and changes into a long skirt at the station on the way to school. A station employee confirms that."

Lets Japan asked two Japanese ladies about skirt lengths, Yoko (age 27) and Keiko (33).

LJ: Do public and private elementary, junior high, and high schools have rules about length of girl’s skirts?
Yoko: Girls is not allowed to shorten their skirt…also.. too longer skirt is not ok.
Keiko: It depends on the schools. There are a lot schools which have the rules about "appearance" including uniforms, hair styles, nails, make-up, shoes, and so on. Some schools are very strict and they never allow the students to make it short. Other schools don’t say anything.

LJ: Who sets the skirt-length rules?
Keiko: I think individual schools set the rules on their own.Pupil's handbook issued by schools in Japan.

LJ: How do the students know the rules?
Keiko: Parents knew the rules because they needed to go to the school orientation meeting. Parents and students receive the document at the orientation. In my school days the rules were written in the student’s pocketbook.

LJ: What is a pocketbook?
Keiko: Pocketbook is a small notebook that students have. It’s combined with student ID in my school. Students receive it from the teacher on the first day of school.

LJ: What about in Japan’s history – the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s – surely students tried to wear short skirts then?
Keiko: I guess that teachers at that time had much more authority/power than they do now, and they didn’t permit students to wear the uniforms in untidy way. Or the ordinary students just didn’t have the idea to make the skirt short. Rogue students used to wear too-long skirts instead of too-short skirts when I was a kid.

LJ: Is the Niigata skirt poster the first time a poster was made about skirt lengths?
Keiko: I’ve never seen such a poster in my life before.

LJ: Why is the poster such big news?
Keiko: Because Mainichi and Asahi have such stupid editors. (I hate both of them.)
Hair length rules at high school in Japan.



Excerpts from some school rules, translated from Japanese:

Aomori prefectural Hachinohe east high school.
The summer uniform period is 6/1 - 9/30.
Boys attire: In the summer, a white shirt, school emblem, and the standard school uniform as specified by the school. In the winter, a stiff upper collar jacket and the standard school uniform as specified by the school.
Girls attire: In the summer, the standard school uniform as specified by the school, and white socks. In the winter, the standard school uniform as specified by the school, and black stockings. 

Hair
Boys: Does not hang to the collar.
Girls: Hair that reaches the shoulder must be tied. Dyed hair and perms are prohibited.

Shoes: Girls and boys - black or brown is preferred.
Coat: Wearing a gaudy coat is not allowed.
Part-time job: Allowed only when it is unavoidable. It is permitted under economic circumstances.

Tokai Takanawadai Junior High School (Tokyo).
Uniform
Unisex standard: Necktie (ribbon); Necktie (ribbon), blazer. The blazer need not be worn in the school. Sweater and long-sleeved shirts can be worn depending on the season. When the school ceremonies specifies it, full dress is worn.

Girl standard: The socks color and shape are specified. However, when full dress is worn, specified goods are worn. (Both navy blue high socks in the winter and summer.) The height of the skirt hangs to the kneecap.
Boy standard: white socks.

Both: Shoes are assumed to be black leather.

Hair
Boys: Does not hang to hang to the ear or the collar.
Girls: Bangs no longer than the eyebrow. When hair reaches shoulder length, please tie it up with a rubber accessory or get a haircut. Hair accessories limited to brown, navy, blue, or made of stainless steel. No glitter or highlights. Heavy makeup is prohibited. 
Prohibited for both: perms, dyed hair, and the fashion hair style, etc. Persons with peculiar hair that is not natural should correct the style.
School uniform in Japan 1965School uniform in Japan 1969School uniform in Japan 1969

School uniform in Japan 1975
School uniform in Japan 1975

School uniform in Japan 1993

School uniform in Japan 1997School uniform in Japan 2007Sites selling school uniforms: Nishiki; Gyakushi; Konomi; Noguchi.

photos: TV split screen; pink postergreen pocketbook; hair length1965; 1969 boys; 1969 girl; 1975 girls; 1975 boys; 1993; circa 1997; 2007.

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19 Comments

  1. blauereiter Says:

    Haha, I think they’re going to have a hard time persuading the girls to wear anything longer, since its so ingrained in the current fashion wave right now.

  2. Danielle Says:

    High school girls who can control them?  I went to a catholic girl’s school in Canada and we had woolen kilts down to our ankles. They were horrendous, itchy, stinky and horrible colors too. 

    We did the same thing. If you could coerce your mom you could get her to hem it above the knee, otherwise it was the old "top roll".  The waist band of the kilt was rolled about 2548 times to bring it to a cool level.  Showed off your legs but you looked about 6 months pregnant.

    Let the high school girls be! They will go the circuitous route to becoming model Japanese citizens.  I have seen it over and over again in my time here.

  3. Chris B Says:

    My J.H. girls would laugh..walk away then roll up their skirts again. It’s a game for them.

  4. Tomomi K Says:

    When I was in JH, long skirts till almost the ground was in fashion…lol

  5. Tom Says:

    Is this really the most important thing that educators have to deal with in Japan?  Seems to me that they should be teaching critical thinking, foreign language, history and other subjects which are relevant to brining Japanese youth in touch with the real world.  

  6. Male Observer Says:

    Absolutely disgusting! How dare they rob innocent schoolgirls of one of their few remaining mediums of self-expression!

  7. Joanne Says:

    If my memory serves me well our skirt lengths went down as soon as soon as we left the house by rolling up the waistband. We could not see any harm in what we did and the more we were told not to the more we did it.  

  8. Hime_Ayane(USA otaku) Says:

    WOW! those teachers really don’t have anything better do but harrasse people about the way they express themselves. From what i’ve read above they barely get any freedom to express themseleves the way they dress already, leave ‘em alone. To add on i think they way they where thir uniforms now is soooo cute! Every real otaku out here in the US either has one similar to their’s in Japan or desperately want one(seriously). There’s honestly nothing wrong with what they already have.

  9. Katie Says:

    At my school the rule is that the skirt has to be at least a hand-length from the kneecap. Most people get in trouble if they’re wearing a hat inside the school or texting in class. My school used to be really strict about if your shirt was showing a small hint of cleavage or if you were wearing a spaghetti strap shirt that wasn’t three fingers wide, now they don’t care a much. I don’t think it should really matter that much, just as long as it’s not short enough people can see stuff they don’t want to see.

  10. Sarah Says:

    I went to a catholic school for 2 years. Not even the nuns could get us to lengthen the skirts. If we got in trouble, we rolled them down. When the teacher left we rolled them back up. No one could stop us and they’re not gonna stop the japanese school girls.

  11. Filipino Gal Says:

    I stumbled upon this site because I was intrigued by how Japanese students wear their skirts. It’s different in our country. You’ll never spot anyone wearing school skirts with lengths above the knee. We prefer longer skirts and dislike short ones. Well, I guess each country has it’s own fashion style. :))

  12. Anna Says:

    I my school there isn’t a school uniform, everyone wears what they want, we can dye our hairs, have make up and nails however we want, we’re ok as long as we study, this is the important thing in my school :) but I admit that I always wanted to try wearing a school uniform :P

  13. Anonymus Says:

    for me, that skirt is kinda disgusting. just saying. I mean, in my country if you wear really short skirt or pants like that, that means you are cheap and like a bitch, eventho there are so many teenagers use that short thing here. but not because my country is so lame or not up-to-date or something like that but, it’s true right? the virgin girl is so rare these day. and what you wear is reflex your self. and do you realize or it just me, long shirt and (really) short skirt is kinda weird, especially in winter. and I just thinking, those girls, why they fussing them self by wearing a really short skirt? why don’t they just wear underpants? It’s just the same right? equally visible underwear? please, just saying and no sarcastic here. I am an otaku too, but I don’t really like when I saw the real thing they use their uniform. But I love the male one, that makes them look very cool. I just don’t like the skirt.

    Well, like Filipino Gal says, each country has it’s own fashion style. I tottaly agree with her. And I’m still teenage and not an old-fashioned parents.

    Thanks

  14. Kayla Says:

    It’s funny how they feel uncomfortable towards longer skirts… In my country it will be very difficult to spot anyone wearing school skirt with lengths above the knees. Yup, we also prefer longer skirts, it even made as rules. Your skirt must be +10 cm below the knees, or else, you’ll get into trouble :))

  15. Becky Says:

    The school skirt I have is the the same length as most of the ’short’ ones here and I must admit it does make me feel a little exposed. I seriously can’t imagine why or how any of these girls would roll it up anymore! 

  16. Haylee Says:

    I always wondered if it were true that high school girls rolled up their skirts in Japan. Seems they do! Well, I can’t blame them. I live in Western Europe and all you see here are short skirts. Only expensive private schools have school uniforms, and even so, uniforms are still rare. In my school, almost every girl wears jeans. If you can spot a girl with a skirt, it will be awfully high. Altough not that high… meaning, 18 cm? That’s pretty high, if you ask me. 15 Sounds about right tough. In France there even was a girl who got expelled because she was wearing a skirt down to her ankles. Provocative, they said. Geez, people always have to complain, do they? Let those girls live a little, high school life is pretty important for them.

    Only thing I noticed further is… skirts in winter? Even the private schools that have a uniform, that I know of, always lets them wear something underneath. I would just hit someone in the face if they told me to wear a skirt in the middle of winter… - shivers -

  17. Lunar Says:

    Well, i live in Indonesia. You know, if you come here, you maybe wont find any short skirt here. Ppls here think that skirt that above the knees is like, make you look like a (sorry) bitch. Even theres a rule here, that the junior and high school uniform skirt is must reach the ankles, or, minimal +10cm below the ankles. And most of Islamic school here is require all girl students to wearing hijab, and most of girls here also wearing hijab with their uniform.

  18. Gretel Says:

    @Haylee > I’m a french girl living in Paris and when I was in high school (a private catholic one), no one would ever expelled someone because their outfit is provocating, this person would be scold, but expelled ? Come on. And about the skirt down to the ankle, it hides your legs, thus it’s perfect for religious places.

  19. suntu Says:

    Well, Turns me on ! I don’t want to be a perv, but such shorties kinda kick up my animalizm

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