Japan Today

Police called after Okayama teens dress differently for graduation

By Scott Wilson, RocketNews24

Since the Japanese school year starts in April, graduation ceremonies usually happen around mid-March. There are tearful speeches, young adults dressing up in traditional graduation outfits, and of course only the most heartfelt thanks and gratitude given to teachers, parents, and everyone else in the community.

But not in Okayama City. For the past few years there’s been an unofficial tradition of the recent middle school graduates gathering outside Okayama Station and wearing long jackets. And not just that, but they’re wearing them in different colors. The horror was so much that police officers were immediately dispatched to keep an eye on all the horrible delinquents.

On March 17, large groups of recent Okayama middle school graduates and some alumni gathered outside Okayama Station to celebrate. Since they were wearing the aforementioned long jackets and some of them even dared to color their hair, local residents called the police to keep an eye on the potentially unruly.

Though it may seem incredibly silly to have several police officers keeping watch on a group of middle school graduates, to be fair, the fears were not completely undeserved. A few days earlier a similar group of recent graduates gathered outside Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture, and one girl was arrested after starting a fight.

Personally, to me it just looks like a bunch of kids having harmless fun on graduation. I think everyone should be thankful the teens didn’t partake in certain American graduation traditions, such as getting extremely drunk and driving around in their parents’ cars.

Source: Breaking News Japan

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The police would have been better off keeping watch on the "unruly" behavior of their own.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

ah, Mr. Wilson, what do American Graduation Traditions have to do with a Fukui JAPAN nuisance?

My hometown school district held a "Project Graduation" party after our city high schools' ceremonies, which were done mostly all on the same day, or a couple of days before. They would rent out an local amusement park, or a waterpark and would shuttle graduates from their school to the locale so they can enjoy the festivities in a controlled environment. This would go on until the early hours of the next day. This would deter your descriptions of American graduating traditions. They would even raffle out a new car to some lucky graduate, but at the end of the event, to keep as many graduates from taking off early and going on a drinking and DUI binge!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Well honestly those are younger initiates into bosozoku and juvenile gangs. I would watch those little brats too. They are just going to grow up into to zaku and since I bet dollars to cents they are not going to be going to high school it would not hurt to have them watched. Future troublemakers.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Highly misleading title! You'd think you were reading about a shocking dictator-style iron fisted police move, when you find out someone just called the cops on grads who were hanging out and there was a fight there the other day apparently. What's the news exactly?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The message on the back of the clothes is harmless and just a celebration of their graduation. I see a lot of kids in bizarre clothing like this also at the Coming of Age ceremony every year as well and never hear about gang warfare.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There aren't just kids having fashion fun. These are kids declaring gang affiliation. And, as the article says, there was actually a fight. It doesn't sound like Footloose-style adult oppression to me. Sounds like a prudent move to make sure ceremonies come off peacefully instead of breaking into melees among rival gangs.

7 ( +11 / -5 )

@Scott Wilson

Maybe at your school students get drunk and drive around in their parents "Camaro" but in my high school we were all shuttled to Disneyland after the ceremony. We got the whole park to ourselves.....FREE!!

It's called Disneyland Resort "Grad Night". Free!!!

So don't bother wasting your time again in the future trying to put American high school graduations on blast. We get caps and gowns. Students in Japan are still in their uniforms falling asleep because the PTA chief loves the sound of his voice.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Not 'dared to dress differently' or 'dared to dye their hair', but dressed in gang regalia. Bosouzoku try to recruit junior high graduates not going on to high school, it's always been a problem.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I'd call the police too....the fashion police. Talk about embarrassing.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Trash journalism.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

I think everyone should be thankful the teens didn’t partake in certain American graduation traditions, such as getting extremely drunk and driving around in their parents’ cars.

This article was about junior high school graduation in Okayama. Not many American teens graduating from 9th grade are "getting extremely drunk and driving around in their parents’ cars."

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Whoever wrote this article must either live under a rock or out of the country. I appreciated the little jabs at someone who perhaps dared not tucking their shirts or dying their hair for their graduation, only to see the picture and realize it was a street rabble rally with the main reason Okayama is going to the dogs. Okayama can't really afford to have kids throw their lives away being public nuisances on motorbikes, when they're supposed to do manual labour before everything is outsourced to rival economies. Bring in the riot police next time.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Future black van crews.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

In the states I don't believe there is any JHS graduation. I believe that these "graduations" (kindergarten, primary and junior high school) are a waste of valuable lesson time. HS graduation is a different animal altogether.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

No need to bash ''America'' over something that happened in a small city in Okayama. I lived in one of the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. back in one of its worst periods and my junior high graduation had absolutely no incidents. It was a joyous occasion which I still remember fondly. Yes, Japan is much safer, has less crime, the kids give less trouble, etc. It's OK to highlight those, as is frequently done on these news sites, but there is no need to bring America into it. At least not in this case.

10 ( +10 / -1 )

I believe that these "graduations" (kindergarten, primary and junior high school) are a waste of valuable lesson time.

They don't use lesson time for the graduations. They are held after the rest of the school year is over.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

the number of ceremonies and graduations etc her Japan reminds me of the "The Incredibles"

Helen: Bob! And you're missing this! I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation! Bob: It's not a graduation. He is moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade. Helen: It's a ceremony! Bob: It's psychotic! People keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...

In the backwaters I came from, there was no graduation except for University, that is the one place you actually graduate from and merits a ceremony, No one" graduates" high School, you leave at the end with the qualifications/credits that you have and hope you have the required level for whatever you want to progress to next. School is a means to end, not your reason to live which it seems to be for some. For all these ceremonies, where is the prize off the top student in the school (Dux)? the top student in each subject? ..deru kugi wa utareru

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We graduate from Elementary, Highschool, and College but we never really have this much fun and freedom, everything was pretty strict when it came to how we should be dressed down to the measurement of the heel of the black shoes we must wear.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ Commodore Shmidlap:

"... and there was actually a fight..."

Yes. The fight was a few days before, outside Hakata Station, which is 450km away.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I dnt like chimpira. But I'm glad they broke the norm. And decided be individuals dressing to their own liking. I hate conformity within any learning enviornment.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Mr Wilson...

You seem to be disconnected totally from the situation in Japan... and still able to make some comment article missing the point totally.

The clothing those kids are wearing, usually refers to gangs (Bosozoku) and sometimes those gangs are backed by the Yakuza. As they are kids and they are infused with "power" given by the outfit (and the gang and the Yakuza), they feel unbeatable and it is not usual that fights and other sort of miss behavior (even crimes) happen when so many kids with those outfits gather.

The calling of the police to watch over those kids is totally understandable and justified

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The nail that sticks up.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

It's quite funny that, the more Japanese kids try to look different the more they look the same. They just trade one uniform for another.

1 ( +4 / -2 )

Amazing. The school near where I used to live had some of the WORST kids I had ever heard of -- 13 years old but stole a teacher's car, drove it around the grounds and crashed it; kicked over neighbours scooters and bicycles and threw rocks at windows; needless to say did not attend classes but my teacher friend tells me would hang out in the staff room and cause fights with students/teachers, and yet the school would NEVER call the police! In fact, when my next store neighbour wanted to call the police because his rather expensive motor-bike was kicked over the school VP rushed over and begged him not to call and that the school would take care of it (which they did nothing about, except I heard they gave him some money for repairs from the school coffers). The reason being is that if they call the police, they have to admit the problems and in the eyes of the community look unable to handle things, etc. Hence bullying never gets reported until there's a suicide, etc.

And yet the police are called for kids wearing stupid clothing? Talk about priorities!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@Disillusioned YUP... it is a Japanese thing.... the heard behavior is strong in Japan, and comes naturally.

@smith I think the reason why the police where there was because someone called them. As for the example you gave about that school, as you said it if the police is not called... then the police won't come

In the case of these kids in Okayama, even if nobody called the police, they were gathering in a public space (in front of the Okayama Station) where most probably was a Koban (Police post) and from there the alarm also must have ringed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


Personally, to me it just looks like a bunch of kids having harmless fun on graduation. I think everyone should be thankful the teens didn’t partake in certain American graduation traditions, such as getting extremely drunk and driving around in their parents’ cars.

I don't know what school you went to, but I sure did not go to it. No, it is not tradition for American kids to do such things at all. I think you might not be from the States and have no idea about what kids do there but they certainly dont do what you are talking about. And personally I don't like your unprofessionalism at all. It is childish America bashing. Your articles is supposed to be about what THESE kids are doing, not American ones. Also you obviously have no idea what these kids in their long coats are about. They are not the cream of the crop. They are the ones who will be getting into trouble in high school and or quitting it altogether as they ride on their stolen motorcycles with their engines blasting up as we try to sleep. GET A GRIP and try writing more professionally, please.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hate conformity within any learning enviornment.

I'm sorry to tell you, but this makes very little realistic sense. Self-expression is extremely important, but anarchy is hardly the best environment for education.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Trash journalism.

Well consider the source and where it is published.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland: They most certainly do use class time for graduation. Many hours of practice, which classes of all the grades are cancelled for, go into a Japanese junior high school graduation. And, classes are certainly not finished even yet, for the first and second year students. I agree that these kids have a high chance of becoming gang members. The police were in the right on this one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

this was a DAMN FUNNY ARTICLE , until ........................ ""Personally, to me it just looks like a bunch of kids having harmless fun on graduation. I think everyone should be thankful the teens didn’t partake in certain American graduation traditions, such as getting extremely drunk and driving around in their parents’ cars.""

1 ( +3 / -2 )

one of the major problems okayama has been having in the past several years is the afforementioned recruiting of youngsters into the bosuzoku ranks, wearing gang colours and slogans is what prompted local residents to call the police. Not long coats but gang colors and uniforms.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Scott must not be from the U.S. or he wouldn't have made such a false claim that it is a "tradition" to get extremely drunk and drive around in their parent's car - and it's IMPOSSIBLE for 9th graders to do so as they are too young to drive OR drink. In going for the cheap laugh, Scott instead embarrassed himself internationally.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Students are not models so they must dress in proper dress accordance with school dress code.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sillygirl: In the states I don't believe there is any JHS graduation.

Confirming Educator60, I don't remember back that far and maybe I didn't have one, but my kids in California had and will have a JHS graduation. Speeches, cake, punch, suits, dresses, parents, grandparents. Their particular district has 7th and 8th grades in junior high (approx 12-14 years old), other local districts have grades 6 thru 8 in junior high.

sandiegoluv: @scott ... try writing more professionally, please.

But he writes for RocketNews24.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

First of all, there is probably a false comparison going on here... This article and most of the discussion is about middle school and junior high graduations, which do happen in some schools in the US, and the event is done after school hours, usually with some rehearsal done during class time, but only a couple hours. The claims about US high school graduations is true, and the reason that we do have such programs as project graduation is because the stereotype of getting drunk and having sex was very real, and still happens, just not as much. Junior high graduation is now far too young for kids to be driving, so let's be clear what sort of event we are comparing. As far as the matter of these outfits and haircuts being indications of gangs, that certainly might be true, but there have always been complaints about kids who don't dress traditionally being punks up to no good by older people. I'm likely to believe the people who have actually lived in the area that there is a connection, but I take the whole thing with a grain of salt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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