If you are visiting Tokyo and have done some research, then you will know that the Japanese have many different rules and etiquette to follow. Not only this, but they also have particular dress codes for certain situations. The majority of the time, the clothes that the Japanese wear are bright or colourful. If your wardrobe mainly consists of black clothes, this may have you questioning your packing options. So, can you wear black in Japan?
You can wear the colour black in Japan without having any issues. Many Japanese people and tourists wear black clothes daily. It is absolutely normal. While there are certain situations and events where black is the required colour of clothing, the colour is not limited to just these situations.
Despite black-coloured clothing being completely normal and acceptable, there may be some other things to know before checking in your suitcase at the airport. Read the rest of this article to learn more about wearing black in Tokyo, and why you should (or maybe shouldn’t) do so.
Is It Okay To Wear Black In Japan?
Despite Tokyo having some clothing etiquette that is fairly unusual, you would be surprised at how unbothered the Japanese public are to tourist’s clothing decisions.
Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, therefore, no one will really take any notice of your clothing. In a city with that many people, you won’t stand out like a sore thumb just by wearing black.
Despite this, there are certain situations and types of clothing, where wearing black could mean something more.
We’ll dive deeper into this shortly, but for now, it is important to know that you can wear black without having any problems or weird stares.
What Does It Mean To Wear Black In Tokyo?
Japan has different views on each colour, and this usually goes for clothing as well. Many countries have different views, beliefs and uses for the colour black. In Japan, however, the colour black can mean a number of different things. Let’s take a look.
1. Black Should Be Used For Formal Events
Like many other countries around the world, a black suit or dress is the standard choice of clothing for formal wear. However, in Japan, black is especially important for weddings and funerals.
In fact, black is known to be the main colour for mourning, therefore being the reason it is worn at funerals. However, in recent years, other colours such as grey or dark blue are now seen as acceptable.
2. Power Or Masculinity
In the older times of Japanese history, black was always associated as a colour for “men” or as a colour of power. This was shown in the clothing and gear that was used being the colour black for certain samurai ranks from the 1100s up until the late 1800s.
As years have passed and women gained more equality, obviously the colour black is much more widespread across the genders in Japan. The belief of black being worn as a ‘power’ statement is still valid, however, it is not just dictated to males.
3. Elegance & Luxury
Many people still in today’s day in age believe the colour black being a staple of elegance. It is simple, but effective. With the colour representing formality and power, wearing this shade will give a certain level of prominence to your persona and looks.
This isn’t just relevant in recent times though. In fact, way back in the Meiji period black was still seen as the more polished and glamorous colour. Traditional geishas in these times would actually stain their teeth black with a mixture of iron solution, tea, vinegar and sake to blacken their teeth.
The main reasons for geishas blackening their teeth are:
- To fit into the beauty and glamour
- To hide the yellow tint of their teeth, which their white painted skin would greatly contrast with
- It prevents tooth decay
There may be many more reasons why the geisha decided to blacken their teeth, but these are the main reasons that we know today.
Can I Wear A Black Suit In Japan?
If you are someone who is visiting or looking to visit Tokyo in the near future and likes to wear formal attire, you may question whether you will be judged for wearing a black suit.
The short answer is no. With over 660,000 businesses in Tokyo, there will be many people walking around in formal black attire everyday of your visit. However, in certain times of the year such as the summer, it would obviously be less common due to the uncomfortability factor that comes with wearing a suit in hot weather.
Another thing to take into account is the area or neighbourhood you will be visiting while wearing the suit. For example, Nihonbashi (the main business district in Tokyo) and Akihabara (the technology and anime hub of the city) are two very different neighbourhoods. Wearing a black suit in one of these districts would be completely normal, while the other would be a little less common.
Is It Considered Rude To Wear Black In Tokyo?
It is not seen as rude to wear black in Japan outside of formal events such as weddings or funerals. Nowadays, Tokyo has over 10 million tourists every year, and the Japanese have learnt and accepted that not everyone can stick to their age-old clothing etiquettes.
However, before all the tourism took over Tokyo, it most likely would have been seen as rude or disrespectful if black was not worn in the correct way or situation. There may even be some members of the public nowadays that still look down on people wearing black casually, but that percentage of people is extremely low.
Rest assured that wearing black while walking the streets of Tokyo will not offend anyone. In fact, it is most likely that no one will even notice!
It is normal when visiting a country with such a rich history such as Japan, to be worried about offending their beliefs and etiquette. Japan is really a unique country in how they welcome and treat tourists though.
Another prime example of people being worried about offending the Japanese, is hand-shaking. Check out this article to find out if “shaking hands in Japan is rude.”
It may be down to the Japanese public being far too busy to be able to worry about how or what other people are wearing, but they are unfazed to say the least.
When visiting Tokyo or Japan as a whole, you are free to wear whatever clothes you desire, in whatever colour you like.