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SHISO, Hyogo -- A high school in this western Japan city will introduce split-skirt culottes as a uniform option from the 2023 academic year beginning in April.
Hyogo Prefectural Yamasaki High School decided to introduce the culottes to promote mobility and comfort. Culottes look like skirts but feel like shorts when worn, so students don't need to wear shorts under them to hide their underwear or worry about them being flipped up by the wind. They were seen as fitting for the school, where many students commute by bicycle.
School uniforms have recently been reviewed across the country from the standpoint of sexual diversity and comfort. At Yamasaki High School, questions about having only two uniform bottom options -- slacks or skirts -- arose, prompting students to come up with a new option.
Mobility and comfort are necessary for new uniforms, and culottes emerged as a candidate that might meet such needs. In a questionnaire on introducing culottes, nearly 70% of the school's 545 students supported the move. In addition to culottes, genderless blazers, on which buttons can be attached on either left or right side, have been adopted as part of the uniform.
The school's slacks come in three types -- wide, with tucks, and without tucks -- and other options include a tie and a ribbon, allowing students to coordinate uniforms by freely combining the options. Despite concerns that this could lead to untidiness, the school intends to respect students' independence. An official defending the move commented, "They wear uniforms untidily if they are tied down by rules, but wear them neatly if they are free from rules." The official added, "We'd like to respect each student's lifestyle and thoughts."
Daiki Harumoto, 17, a member of the student council, said, "We can be ourselves with what we want to wear without being tied down by form now that we have more options."
The introduction of genderless school uniform options has spread nationwide. Elsewhere in Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji Municipal Sanyo Junior High School has set blazer and slacks as the standard uniform for both male and female students.
(Japanese original by Nana Kita, Himeji Bureau)
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