High School - Japan, High School Abroad

Breaking Out of the Norm with Important Pieces of Flair

by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant
My school, and most schools in Japan have a very restrictive dress code. (I’ll never complain about my American school’s dress code again.)  We wear uniforms, and since jewelry and dyed hair is not allowed, everyone looks the same.  This can create some problems for me, as I just discovered that the girl whom I regularly talk to in French class is not the same girl whom I usually talk to in English writing class.  Telling people apart is so much more difficult when everyone is the same ethnicity and has the same hair coloring, except for variations in skin color.  I never realized how much I depended on hair color in identifying people, before I came to a country where almost everyone has the same hair color.  Many people also wear masks (to protect from disease) so from a distance, many people look the same.  I’m very grateful that the school doesn’t make everyone wear the same hairstyle, or I would be in real trouble.

One thing that I think is really cool about Japan is the things my fellow students do in order to follow the dress code and still express themselves.  We are required to tie up our hair during school, but most students seem to be trying to stretch this rule as much as possible without actually breaking it.  Everyone has long bangs, and many girls have ‘side bangs’ so long that they touch their shoulders.  hairstylesMany people in my class have short hair. (ie: hair just short enough that they don’t have to tie it up)  Low pigtails also enjoy a popularity that they don’t seem to have in the United States.  Because jewelry is not allowed, glasses are treated like an accessory.  I’m a little jealous of Japanese girls on this point.  In America, glasses aren’t really something you’d want to emphasize.  They’re not considered ugly, but they aren’t treated as an accessory either.  I have bad eyesight, but I wear contacts because I’ve always personally thought that glasses are ugly.  Japanese glasses made me rethink that.  I have seen two pairs of hot pink clear plastic glasses since I came here, along with bright green, purple, blue…  I wish I had an excuse to buy glasses while I’m here. (lime green!)

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.



  1. Pingback: How to Break the Rules in Japan Without Really Breaking Them « Greenheart Travel - October 6, 2010

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