Office dress can be confusing when you’ve come straight out of uni and suddenly need to not wear t-shirts and jeans. Here is a basic guide for what to wear in Japan, especially at the office/at your schools.
There are two basic rules of thumb to follow:
- Dress up REALLY nicely the first day. You will need a suit and tie.
- From then on, it’s up to your BOE/schools’ culture. Look at what other teachers of your sex and approximate age are wearing, and match them (except the P.E. teacher, who will always be dressed down!).
But how, then, can you possibly pack if you haven’t even seen your school(s)? Following are some more guidelines. In general, jewelry, piercings, visible tattoos, low cut shirts, bare shoulders, flip flops and the like are generally not considered appropriate for the workplace.
Depending on your
placement you may be working at many different types of school, so it’s best to
be flexible in your attire. Aside from the formal work clothing, schools often
have some sort of ‘sports day’ and long cleaning periods (40-80min) at some
point. You should consider bringing
some type of sports gear: basketball shorts and a sports shirt for summer, and
jogging pants and sweater for winter, for example. Also, slippers are often worn in schools, and separate shoes are used for
the gymnasium. So if you have a bigger shoe size than 28cm (26.5cm for women) you
might want to bring along a pair of clean indoor shoes and slippers.
That being said, unless you take very large sizes, bear in mind that you can buy clothing and shoes here at pretty good prices at a range of Japanese or foreign brand stores. You can also order from online stores and either have them ship to you in Japan or have your family/friends forward them to you. If you are limited on packing space, consider having some items shipped later from home if possible once you know what you will be needing.
When outside of school, essentially you are free to wear whatever you like, although do remember that Japan is a fairly conservative country. I would encourage you to think about what will be culturally appropriate in Japan. For example, sleeveless or revealing tops for women and super short shorts for men might be considered inappropriate, especially in the more inaka (rural) areas. Bear in mind that people in your local area will probably already be staring at you out of curiosity; don't make them stare for all the wrong reasons. If you have some special but potentially 'sensitive' clothes you want to bring, maybe save them for a night out on the town in Fukuoka, where the same rules do not apply.
Follow the links below for more detail about what to wear in the workplace --