As I said in my previous article where I presented the custom of the "Second Button", it is soon the (school) graduation period in Japan. It symbolizes the end of something but also the beginning of something else, meeting new people, making new friends etc...
The graduation Ceremony marks the transition and students attend it with their usual school uniforms...well normally...
Actually, it is not rare to see Graduation Ceremonies where women are not wearing their regular uniforms but what is called Hakama (see the picture).
First what are Hakama ?
Hakama are a type of clothing that were originally worn by men but can nowadays be worn by women. Maybe you didn't know the term but you may have seen this type of clothing on pictures etc... right ?
Actually this is what women wear when practicing martial arts such as kyudo, aikido or kendo.
But the most iconic image of woman in hakama is the miko or shrine maidens in formal ceremonies. They usually wear a white kimono with a red hakama.
As for men, they wear them at many official ceremonies such as weddings, funerals or tea ceremonies.
Now, why did a type of clothing worn by men become one worn also by women during formal occasions ?
There are mainly 2 thesis.
Historically, it is said that female student started wearing it at the time of Japan's modernisation during the Meiji Era. When this fashion began to catch on, it was considered as an antisocial conduct and a shallow fashion by the media. Then, some 30 years later, Hakama was selected in a university (Jissen jogakuin) to be the official uniform of the school. Soon, it came to be considered as a formal type of clothing and many other universities introduced it as a one of their official uniform.
So, it could be that the youth who were wearing hakama as a "bad girl" fashion at the beginning of Meiji decided to introduced this clothing that they liked as an official uniform.
The second thesis is that this would come from a manga (japanese comic) called "Haikarasan ga tooru" (also known as " Mademoiselle Anne" in the West) that came out in the 80's.
It is the story of a 17 year-old schoolgirl living with her father in Tokyo in 1920. She has grown into a tomboy and contrary to traditional Japanese notions of feminity, she studies Kendo, drink sake etc...
One of her characteristics is also that she wears hakama casually. Since this manga became really popular at the time, we can think that kimono industry tried to ride on the wave and promoted the Hakama more broadly, which ended up being worn by women as well.
Anyway, in a sense, Spring is the season of Hakama. This is the only time where you can see so many girls wearing them at the same time and contrary to Miko etc... the Graduation period arises only once per year, so let's not miss the chance !