• Japan Tips

ALT Dress Code: Do Teachers in Japan Wear Business Attire?

Man and woman in suits smiling and posing for the camera

All ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) are expected to wear business attire during working hours. It is a requirement to maintain a professional appearance. But what does this look like?


If you’re looking for a job in Japan, here’s some advice about business and work dress codes.

Hairstyles & Facial Hair for Teachers

If you’re working in a school in Japan, is it acceptable to rock the latest hair trends or colours? It’s best to err on the side of caution, or at least wait until you’ve had a conversation with staff.
  • For male ALTs in Japan, keep your hair short, neat and business-appropriate. You should always be cleanly shaven or keep a beard or moustache neat and trimmed.
  • For women, keep hairstyles business-appropriate for an ALT working in Japan. Despite what you’ve seen in anime, brightly-coloured hair colours aren’t commonplace among teachers!
Why not check out our blog post about curly hair in Japan, for some tips on hair care products?

Clothes & Japanese Work Attire

As a teacher in Japan, you’ll have to have a similar dress code to a Japanese office worker or business person. There’s no uniform for ALTs, but work attire is still pretty conservative.
Like with hair rules, it’s best to be cautious and check what your school’s staff are wearing.

Men’s ALT Dress Code:

  • Conservative and businesslike shirts and blouses. No low cut necks on short tops.
  • A suit or sports jacket is required. Casual jackets are not appropriate for teachers.
  • Always wear a necktie for Japanese work attire! The top shirt button must be buttoned.
  • Pants should be well-pressed, clean and appropriate for a business environment. Belt with a normal buckle. Socks should be dark-coloured and matching for men working in schools.
  • Don’t wear a black suit, white shirt and black tie – this is considered funeral attire!

Women’s ALT Dress Code:

  • Conservative and businesslike shirts and blouses. No low cut necks on short tops.
  • Skirts should cover the knees; business-style dress pants are acceptable. Skirts and pants for Japanese work and business attire should be worn at waist-level (not hip-level). 
  • Nylon stockings are required for women wearing skirts, so avoid going bare legged.

Footwear for Teachers in Japan

As a teacher in Japan, you’ll be on your feet a lot of the time. Good shoes are a must!

Jewelry in Japan at Work

Like clothing, hair and shoes – it’s best to play it safe with jewelry working as an ALT in Japan.
  • For men, earrings or other body piercings with business attire are not appropriate.
  • For women, only wear jewelry that is appropriate for the business environment.


Maintain good standards of personal hygiene. Ample use of deodorant is essential, especially in the summer months! Read our blog post about Cool Biz – a change in business attire in Japan.

Japanese Work & Business Attire – General Points

  • Perfume and strong aftershave should not be worn by teachers to school.
  • Any piercings other than earrings for women should also be taken out when you are at school.
  • Summer “Cool Biz” is in effect in some areas and schools for a limited time. Please confirm with the branch regarding any work attire dress code changes during the summer months.

Tattoos & Dress Code in Japan

Tattoos in Japan are associated with persons involved in organized crime, and are definitely not in line with the image and expectations of a teacher or sensei.  
As an ALT, there is an expectation that you will take part in school festivals and sports/club activities. In these activities, you may be required to wear shorts and t-shirts, and therefore any visible tattoo must be covered. 
In addition, living in the communities where you work will require that your tattoos are covered at all times. Therefore, living and working in Japan will prove to be a significant challenge if you have tattoos. 
Any more questions about work attire and business dress code in Japan? Get in touch with us!