Kitaiju High School Uniforms

I noticed that in most of school-life anime the first, second, and third grader usually wore different uniforms. It's not completely different. Sometimes the differences are pins, ribbon, indoor slippers, tie, and so on. But, what does the reason behind this?

I watch some Japanese dramas. But, couldn't recall any title that has those differences. Is this really part of Japanese culture?

PS: In my country, most students wear uniform too. But there's no differences of uniform between first, second, and third graders.

  • 3
    two words: power distance. Its a psychological concept that describes how much "respect" you should show your "superiors". Japan is a nation with huge power distance, so you will see distinctions between those in a higher position and lower position to make it easier to know who you need to show respect to. (not definitive, this is one answer, there may be others.)
    – anon
    Nov 25, 2015 at 5:49

3 Answers 3


In my country (Indonesia), our school uniform has a badge that indicates what grade we are. It was not just my school, other schools here also have it like this. Thus, this is not/no longer (since Indonesia used to be under the occupation of the Japanese forces) a Japanese specific culture.

As to why we have it that way, a page in Wikipedia explained it well. Basically, the uniform was modeled after the sailor uniform. The difference between Freshman, Junior, and Senior uniform rooted back from the rank hierarchy in the army. Think of advancing class as advancing in rank, like from a Sergeant into a Major, and then General.

Edit: Added from the Tomato Cabal Line group discussion (credit to Krazer), the color on the uniforms and shoes denote the year the students belong in. The color is rotated each year. E.g. the color of the graduated senior becomes the color of the new incoming freshman. This is so that you can tell who is your senior and who is your junior. The color is rotated so that you don't have to change color every year.


I'm Japanese.

Even in Japanese schools, uniform designs are not always divided by grade. Certainly, some real schools in Japan may have different design of gym clothes (For examole, colors of the jersey or headband) or some part of uniforms (For examole, color of Ties or Scarves.) depending on the year of enrollment. This is so that the grade can be visually confirmed. Grade level colors often remain the same until graduation. In other words, it depends on the year of admission rather than the grade.

At my alma, the color of the name tag was divided according to the team at the athletic meet. The same blue name tag is used for 3rd year 2nd year and 1st year A group. Group B uses a yellow name tag regardless of grade, ... .


I don’t know why they do it in Japan, but it is what it is. I only know that in uniforms sometimes, it’s different than others to know what grade you are or something like that. ( for example, I watch this anime called love live school idol project and to know if their a 1st year, 2nd year, or 3rd year, the color of their bows on their uniform are different colors. Blue for 1st years, reddish pink for 2nd years, and green for 3rd years.) I think they do it in lots of anime’s and in real life too.

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