Japanese School Uniform “Second Button”
In Japan, in a typical graduation ceremony, it might be similar to all other ceremonies in other countries. However, one custom might be unique. In Japan, the graduating students giving and receiving the second button of students’ uniform.
Normally, Japanese girls request the second button of the uniform of male students. When he gives the second button of his uniform, that has a special meaning which is equal to a heartfelt confession of his love towards her.
Nowadays, it became Japanese drama, anime and manga cliche. You can see this kind of scene here and there.
“Where this custom from?”
In 1960, there was a famous scene in the movie called “Konpeki no sora tooku” (紺碧の空遠く). In the movie, the main character, who enlisted into a kamikaze(Suicide attack) unit during the war, grieved as he knew that there was little chance of safe return. Wishing to give a final present to a girl he liked, he chose to give her the second button from his military uniform.
Image from Manga de Japan (https://mangadejapan.com/)
“The second button, closest to one’s heart.”
As for why he chose the second button but not the first, there are several proposed theories to explain that. Some would say because its absence is less noticeable to commanding officers. Some believe that it’s because the second button located closest to one’s heart and said to contain the emotions.
Meanwhile, another theory suggests as to why this tradition exists is that five buttons of a “gakuran” each hold different meanings. The first button represents oneself, the second represents one’s most beloved person, the third one represents best friend so on and so forth. Therefore, giving your crush the second button conveys the message that you think of her as the most precious person to you.
It is not that clear where and why this custom comes in Japan. However, it is cute to see the students’ graduation ceremony giving and receiving one’s button each other.