Home Podcasts Ichimon Japan What are “buruma?” (The History of Japanese School Uniforms and the “Bloomers” Scandal) | Ichimon Japan 53

What are “buruma?” (The History of Japanese School Uniforms and the “Bloomers” Scandal) | Ichimon Japan 53

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On this episode of Ichimon Japan we ask: Whar are buruma?

Topics Discussed

  • What buruma/bloomers are
  • A brief overview of the history of school uniforms in Japan
  • About the gakuran style school uniform
  • About the supposed link between gakuran uniforms and Prussian military uniforms
  • About sailor uniforms (sērā fuku)
  • About “blazer” style uniforms
  • The controversy over whether it was a school in Kyoto or Fukuoka that first introduced the sailor uniform in Japan
  • The “second button” tradition
  • The story behind why schools across Japan began having female students wear bloomers in the 1960s and why they stopped in the 1990s
  • The urban legend that bloomers became popular due to the Japanese women’s volleyball team wearing them in the 1964 Olympics
  • The 1993 incident in Singapore that was the final straw that led to the disappearance of bloomers from schools in Japan
  • About girls being able to wear slacks instead of skirts as part of their school uniforms
  • About koromogae (changing school uniforms in accordance with the change of the seasons)
  • And much more!

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Sources, Links, Videos, Etc.

Here are some of the Japanese language articles found when researching the topic of this episode.

Here’s some of the English language sources read for this episode.

Here is a video of the Japanese women’s volleyball team competing in the finals of the 1964 Olympics.

Here’s a video that shows the evolution of girls’ school uniforms in Japan over the past 100 years.

To learn about weird/antiquiated/pointless school rules in Japan check out the episode of Ichimon Japan linked to below.

Don’t forget to check out the latest episodes of the Japan Station podcast via the links below.

Support the show by picking up a t-shirt at KimitoDesigns.com.

Japanese Vocabulary List

Most episodes feature at least one or two interesting Japanese words or phrases. Here’s some of the ones that came up on this episode. All information is from Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC.

  • Seifuku
    • 制服 【せいふく】 (n) uniform
  • Sērā fuku
    • セーラー服 【セーラーふく】 (n) sailor suit; middy uniform
  • Burumā
    • ブルマー : ブルマ; ブルマー; ブルーマー; ブルーマーズ; ブルマーズ (n) (1) bloomers; (n) (2) (girls’) gym shorts

We Want Your Questions

Is there something about Japan that confuses you? Is there something about Japanese culture that you would like to learn more about? Is there something in Japanese history that you would like us to explain? We’re always looking for new questions about Japan to answer, so if you have one, please send it to ichimon@japankyo.com.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing Theme: Produced by Apol (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Fiverr)

Ichimon Japan cover art: Produced by Erik R.

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Full Show Notes


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