As eye-catching as they look, Japanese school uniforms can be an extremely expensive hassle for parents.

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The annual blow to family finances has some households dreading the start of each new school year.

While some public schools allow students to choose the clothes they will come to class in, once they reach junior high school, almost all students in Japan wear uniforms. Proponents of the uniforms point to a number of claimed benefits, such as fewer distractions for young minds, lower risks of bullying based on perceived differences in economy class, and instilling a sense of oneness. and pride throughout the school. There is also the cultural phenomenon that in Japan a crisp and lively school uniform is the ultimate symbol of innocent vitality and youthful dreams.

But there is also a huge downside to uniforms: their cost.. Japanese schools with a uniform system don’t just dictate what type of blazer, pants, or skirt students should wear. Many institutions also designate what style of bag students are allowed to use carry their books to and from the classroom. If they want to band together with a vest Where sweater in winter, it is often must be a specific design that bears the school crest. After summer arrives, most schools let students leave their blazers at home and switch to short-sleeved jackets. polo shirts, but these have yet to be the designated pattern which includes the school emblem. Oh, and for physical education classes, chances are there isn’t just one school sports uniform which must be purchased, but also a specified pair of athletic shoes to wear with, at the choice of the school.

The fact that sellers have a captive market only makes matters worse. Parents have to buy school uniforms if they want to send their children there, and there is little incentive for the retailers who sell the uniforms to lower their prices because that will not do it ”t significantly increase their sales volume. In a recent study of parental attitudes toward junior high school uniforms by Asahi Shimbun Digital, many parents reported spend around 100,000 yen (US $ 970) for the full set of mandatory winter, summer and sports uniforms for their childrenschools. And because they’re all bought for kids who are about to experience a growth spurt, uniforms can be an annual expense as their wearers grow older every 12 months.

The burden is especially heavy on families with several children whose ages differ so that they enter new schools in the same year. Some families are able to reduce their expenses by making young children wear second-hand clothes of their older same-sex siblings, but even that plan can run into a number of potential problems. On the one hand, the height of the younger brother may differ from that of the elder at this age. Plus, having to wear a uniform every day to school means it’s only dry-cleaned during extended vacation periods, and all that wear and tear is sure to stick around with fellow brand new uniforms. richer class, which negates any anti-harassment effect of wearing a uniform.

Most frustrating of all, the school may decide to update or change their uniform, which means an older sibling suddenly breaks school rules. One mother interviewed said this happened with her second son, who had been accepted to the same high school as his eldest had graduated. Six months before the start of the school year, parents were informed that a new uniform was being implemented, so anyone who planned to use first-hand clothes had to fork out for the new version instead.

A few of the survey respondents pointed to money saving strategies. One woman said her school’s PTA collects uniforms that graduates no longer need and supplies them to financially struggling families. Some uniforms can also be adapted to allow modifications so that children can continue to wear them for the three years they are in college.

Nonetheless, many parents have expressed a desire for schools to relax regulations and allow their children to at least wear unofficial sweaters or polo shirts, as discount clothing stores sell such clothes at much more affordable prices than their uniform versions of the school crest. order. “Isn’t it enough to say that the shirt must be white, or that the pants or the skirt must be navy blue, and leave it at that?” A woman asked, but it looks like Japanese schools will stick to detailed uniform regulations for the foreseeable future.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso


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