Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Sailor Fuku (Sailor Uniform) - Japanese Encyclopedia
Written by ニコ
Originally a uniform for the navy, clothes inspired by sailor outfits are currently known as school uniforms for girls in Japan. Thanks to its appearances in Japanese anime and manga, it has become a part of Japanese culture known worldwide.
Inspired by Military Uniforms - The "Sailor" Girls' School Uniform
The type of shirt with a large collar, similar to the ones used as uniforms in the navy, is called sailor fuku (sailor uniform). The unique large collar is called a "sailor collar", and it is believed to have been used to collect the sounds while on the deck - by straightening it up and listening only to the sounds of interest (there are many theories).
From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, clothes inspired by the sailor outfits became known worldwide as a fashionable item. In Japan, school outfits for girls modeled after sailor outfits were created, and have since been known as a part of Japanese culture.
The Japanese School Uniform
There are various theories of how it became a school uniform, but it is said that it began when the design was used at Heian Jogakuin High school (Kyoto) in 1920. At that time, it was not a uniform with two pieces like it is now, but a one-piece dress.
The current two piece design is said to have been used originally at Fukuoka Jogakuin High school (Fukuoka). The design was ordered by the principal of Fukuoka Jogakuin, Elizabeth Lee. In 1917, modeled after the popular sailor outfit in Britain, a gym uniform for girls was created and improved to be easy to move in. After that, Kinjo Gakuin (Aichi prefecture) adopted the sailor fuku as the school uniform, and the sailor outfit became widely known as a school uniform.
One reason why the sailor outfit came to be accepted as a school uniform for girls is because the boy students wore military tunics. Being during the time of World War I, it can be said that it seemed acceptable for girl students to wear navy uniforms.
Now A Popular Cosplay Item!
The sailor outfit is a school uniform unique to Japan, but as it appears in many anime and manga works with school settings, it has become known around the world as well.
In recent years, it has become a popular cosplay item. Sailor outfits for cosplay can be purchased easily on the internet, at variety shops, or at cosplay specialty shops.
If you're looking to buy cosplay sailor fuku, we recommend Don Quijote. In addition to sailor outfits, visitors can find various cosplay items that could make great Japanese souvenirs.
Cosplay events that represent the Japanese youth culture are also worth seeing. Events are held in various locations, but especially well-known are Tokyo Fashion Town, Tokyo Dome City, Harumi Passenger Terminal, and Toshimaen. Also, Yoyogi Park is known as a sacred place for cosplay, and many cosplayers can be seen having photo sessions. Stopping by to look for sailor fuku cosplayers might be a fun addition to your Tokyo sightseeing itinerary.
Other than that, if you want to see real students wearing real sailor outfit uniforms, you might want to try walking around Shibuya Center-gai or other areas with rich youth cultures.