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Rule Breakers


Most private high schools have many school rules that all students must follow, but of course each school is more or less strict about enforcing them.  Even at schools that enforce the rules relatively well, many students go out of their way to break the rules in very subtle ways.  Three of the most common rule-breaker trends involve socks, hair, and skirt length:


First of all, most Japanese schools have uniforms for their students, although they can vary widely in style from school to school.  Many schools uniforms include specific socks that the students must wear to conform to school rules.  This goes for both boys and girls.  Students who don't like the socks and want to be a little more creative will often find clever ways to avoid wearing the correct socks without getting noticed.  The girls may wear similar colored socks with cute or trendy symbols where the school symbol should be.  The guys have an easier time at breaking this rule because their uniform pants usually cover their socks altogether.  Thanks to that, many of them go out of their way to wear "stylish" socks with bright, sometimes neon colors and patterns.


Another common rule enforced at private high schools is a ban on unnatural hair colors or the use of gel or similar hair products.  If boys and girls want to color their hair, they'll often attempt to lighten it to a brown or orange color that is popular and trendy.  However, if they take it too far and get noticed by a strict teacher, they will be forced to dye their hair back to a dark brown or black color.  It's not uncommon for students to add a little color, either.  For example, purple and red are pretty popular, and some students will adjust their hair color ever so slightly if they think they can get away with it.  High school boys in Japan also spend a surprising amount of time styling their hair.  Many of them probably even spend more time on it than the girls do.  Hair gel and other styling products are technically prohibited, and boys who take it too far and get noticed may be forced to wash it out at school, but don't be surprised if a substantial number of boys in your classroom are setting every individual hair in place before coming to class.


If hair gel is the most common broken rule for boys, rolled up skirts may be the most common for the girls.  It is not allowed for girls to roll up their skirts to a shorter, more stylish length in private schools, but by looking at a high school fashion magazine you'd think short skirts were ubiquitous.  Not every girl takes it to the extreme, and some girls do start out by following the rules as a first grade high school student, but by the end of their third year most girls may feel singled out by *not* shortening their skirt length a little.  Teachers are generally on the lookout for girls who take it too far, but this is definitely in the top three most often broken rules at private high schools.


If you have any questions about school life at private junior highs or high schools in Japan, don't hesitate to send your questions to and we may answer you directly or respond in a future blog. 

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