In Japan, a new semester begins in April. Almost every schools and companies have introduced it for years. So, it’s common for us to use April-start schedule books.
For senior students, it’s the graduation season now in March. Junior high and high school students participate the ceremony with wearing their uniforms. On the other hand, university students don’t have uniforms, so they, especially girls wear hakama (a traditional costume) to take part in it.
Hakama is originally a noble men’s costume introduced in more than a thousand years ago. It was worn as a girls’ school costume just in 150-100 years ago. There was the era of Meiji and Taisho when Western culture had been introduced dramatically, and people’s lifestyle was changing day by day. At that time, only wealthy girls were allowed to go to schools, but most schools did not have particular uniforms, so they wore hakama. It’s more convenient than kimono because the bottom edge is very wide, so girls could move their legs boldly. Sometimes they rode bikes and the style was called “haikara-san (Miss. Stylish)”.
It was an interesting phenomenon, and every girl was longing to such a privileged smart girl.
The other interesting point is their shoes. They no more wore Japanese wooden shoes. Instead, they preferred wearing short western shoes. This style could be a target of blames by people who loves tradition, but the flow of the time was too fast to keep the classic styles no longer.
Gradually, schools started to introduce uniforms through the movement.
This is said to be the prime schoolgirls’ uniform. I think the combination of kimono style and western elements are well balanced and so lovely. But this style didn’t become popular, and the main uniform style was shifted into sailor style.
Sailor style still has been one of our popular uniform styles in recent decade.
Though hakama style can be seen only the graduation season and traditional ceremonies, I am glad that we still have chance to wear it on the last day of school life.