Can you wear leggings in Japan? Know where and when it is appropriate

As a first-time traveler to Japan, it is only natural for you to worry about the clothes you are going to wear – especially if you plan to wear comfy, but skin-tight leggings.

This is because while Japan is a fashion hub and the locals are mostly tolerant of more revealing Western clothing, its culture favors simple and conservative clothes.

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So, is it appropriate to wear leggings when you leave your lodging, visit tourist sites, or buy something at the mall? 

Let’s talk about it in detail.

Can you wear leggings in Japan? Know where and when it is appropriate 1

Can you wear leggings in Japan? 

It’s not an easy Yes or No to this question. 

Yes, you can wear leggings in Japan, but you must always wear a long shirt, a dress, or a tunic over it that will cover your hips and bottom. If not, wear shorts or skirts on top of the leggings to cover your lower body.


Because the Japanese think of leggings as some sort of stockings that you should not wear on their own in public. You wouldn’t want to leave your house naked and cause quite a stir in public, right? It is simply inappropriate!

Moreover, since the Japanese are conservative, they do not approve of clothes that leave nothing to the imagination and hug all your body contours and curves, especially for women who are expected in general to embody modesty, simplicity, and purity. 

Meanwhile, though you can wear leggings in Japan, there are places where it is considered inappropriate to wear one.

When is it okay to wear leggings in Japan?

Japan has four seasons, and during the colder months, it is appropriate to wear leggings to keep you warm and protected from the cold. 

You can also wear leggings when participating in nature activities and going on casual tours like hiking, trekking, and biking. 

Going to the mall is another casual activity where you can wear comfortable leggings.

Now, although it is fine to wear leggings, keep in mind that you have to cover your hips and behind by wearing a long top or shorts over your leggings. 

Make sure to do a squat test and pass it. Before leaving the house, squat and check if your private areas are well covered. If they are not, change your top and find something longer to avoid looking bare when you lean over. 

Can you wear leggings in Japan? Know where and when it is appropriate 2

When is it not okay to wear leggings in Japan? 

When visiting Japan, remember that our goal is to immerse ourselves into the country’s culture and experience it at a deeper level; that we’d try Japan as if we are locals.

This means we will be following their customs, traditions, and rules. 

In so saying, since we know that Japan is all for modesty and conservatism, there is no reason for us to wear gaudy or indecent clothes that show off too much skin or tattoos (if we have any) and risk offending the populace. 

Just think of it this way – there is no fun in being denied entrance from places we’d like to visit or being shunned because of inappropriate clothes we could have easily changed.

When attending semi-formal and formal events or functions, leggings are a No, No! 

The Japanese believe in always wearing appropriate and modest clothes. Leggings are considered very casual and unsuitable for formal occasions. 

You must be extra mindful of your clothes when visiting schools, temples, shrines, and historical sites. This means no wearing of leggings in these places. Your top should also be covering your shoulders and arms to show respect. 

What to wear when in Japan

When in Japan, here are a few things to remember when it comes to clothes:

  • Follow the “not too much, not too little, just right” rule. 
  • Show as little skin as possible.
  • Avoid bright colors and stick to subdued tones. In Japan humility is a virtue, and wearing bright-colored clothes translates to boldness, arrogance, and self-importance.
  • Do not wear clothes that will call unnecessary attention.
  • Always choose modest clothes over revealing ones to avoid incurring the ire of the locals.

Lastly, a word to the wise: You never know when you’d need help. It is best to have friends in a foreign place than have people angry at you for something as simple as clothes. Follow the norm and rules to enjoy as much of Japan as possible.