The Orange Shirt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a story I posted in my Intercultural Communication class blog. It's an experience I had living in Japan. I hope you like it.

Culture involves aspects such as religion, language, education, and country, but even colors can be related to culture. How can this be possible? You may wonder. Let me tell you about my color-related experience.

Last year after having graduated from my master’s degree, it was my first year working in Japan. I’m not a necktie guy, so I was happy to hear about the Japanese so-called Cool-Biz concept – wearing a long or short-sleeved shirt with no tie in an effort to reduce the use of air conditioning, contributing, thus, to the environment by saving energy.

One day, I decided to wear a short-sleeved orange shirt that I got at a famous golf store. It was a little casual, but I never thought it would be inappropriate. In fact, it was really hot that summer. That day, I worked as usual and nobody said anything or looked at me differently from the way they usually did.During lunchtime, I usually helped the janitor serve the food for all the teaching staff. Other teachers would often join us.

That day the vice-principal came to help. He was a very kind and talkative man. He brought up the topic about colors. He said with a grin on his face, “ Is it common to wear bright colors to work in your country?” I answered that it was not usual, but there was no rule and some people wore them. He then told me that in Japan people only wore light colors. His tone was no different from usual, so it made me think about whether his intention was to complain about it in a very indirect Japanese manner or it was a mere cross-cultural comparison. I never knew, but my common sense made me think that he probably did not want me to wear that orange shirt anymore. So, it was my first and last time to wear it to work.

This made me aware of colors in the dress code and now I carefully choose what to wear, but I just wonder one thing; are other foreigners living in Japan aware of this? I’ve heard from a Kenyan friend that there’s even more tolerance to colors there. He told me that you could see some people wearing fuchsia or burgundy suits in the streets. I don’t know if this information is true, but colors and the dress code can indeed be an important topic when discussing cross-cultural issues.

Submitted: October 27, 2009

© Copyright 2022 translingual writer 79. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Very eloquently put and an interesting issue. I never really thought about colours in dress code across cultures until I read this, but now that I think about it, I suppose there are subtle ways in which people let you know what is considered acceptable or not. I like orange so your shirt has the thumbs up from me at least :D

Just a couple of tiny things you might want to adjust:
'I’m not a necktie guy, so I was happy to hear about the Japanese so-called Cool-Biz concept – wearing a long or short-sleeved short with no tie...' -- Should be: '...short-sleeved SHIRT with no tie...'

'He said with a grin on his face “ Is it common to wear bright colors to work in your country?”' -- This just needs a comma after '...on his face', like so: 'He said with a grin on his face, “Is it common to wear bright colors to work in your country?”'

Great work! :)

Tue, October 27th, 2009 2:24pm


Thank you so much. It's very kind of you to point out my errors. I already corrected them. This has been of great help. I really appreciate it.

Tue, October 27th, 2009 7:34am

Timeless Thoughts

A very good write. In the United States they still expect people to keep a certain image as well. Health care, corporate execs, and so one. There is an image to uphold. Like this a lot. Gary

Wed, October 28th, 2009 7:10pm


Thanks again for your comments. That's right. In society, everything is about image. : )

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:27am

Mistress of Word Play

Hi my dear friend. I really enjoyed this story. You have a knack for this sort of write. Best of all you live it. I give you an A++ for this one. They make me wear scrubs at the hospital and pull my hair up. I can relate. Susan

Wed, October 28th, 2009 7:49pm


Thank you Susan for your great comments. They're always useful and mean a lot to me. : ) TW79

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:31am


Pretty good read. Your topic was interesting and very well presented. I did have one sentence that I thought might be clearer. You wrote (Last year after having graduated from my master’s degree.) Shouldn't this read (Last year after having graduated with my master's degree.)I will read more of your stuff in a little while. Take care.

Wed, October 28th, 2009 8:55pm


Thank you so much for pointing that out. You're totally right. When I wrote it, I was probably thinking of 'graduating from university' or something like that. I'll correct it. : ) I really appreciate it.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:33am


It is very true, different cultures assess different values and significance to colors, also cultures tend to personalize colors and associate certain personality traits or characteristics with colors which explains why certain things are a taboo, like wearing red to a Turkish Funeral.
Ah, I wish the story was longer and it was a little bit more detailed with more examples of this.
But it was a good read with nothing unnecessary in it.
Well done.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 5:18am


Thanks for your wonderful comments. I'm glad you like it. I also wish it were longer, but it's based on my experience and that's all I've had related to the topic. Maybe in the future I'll do some research and extend it. Thanks for the suggestion.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:43am


And oh yea, this is not related to your story but you're so lucky, I am very interested in the Japanese culture and would like someday to visit...probably not anytime soon though :(

Thu, October 29th, 2009 5:19am


Yeah, Japanese culture is the best. You gotta come here sometime in the future. You'll have a good time while learning a lot of new things. It's amazing.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:44am

Future Compost Heap

A very interesting read this has been, the unusual topic leaves a larger impression... and I have learned something new for today.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 9:34am


I'm really happy that this left you something. Thanks a lot for your comments. : )

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:50am

P Alford

Really enjoyed reading this.. makes you think!!!!

Thu, October 29th, 2009 4:03pm


I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks.

Fri, October 30th, 2009 5:55am

Richa Gupta

hey thanks for this information by your writing .. very good and interesting i have learned something about japanese culture .. thanks

Thu, October 29th, 2009 4:30pm


I'm glad you liked it. I checked your poems, too and I loved them.

Fri, October 30th, 2009 5:55am


this was really interesing story, i liked it.
Actually in US the code of colors is actually a bit different then that of other continent, but therefore this is really important because sometimes you got to adjust the way aq nation lives, and not the way we like to live, society is important.
nice work.
thx denada

Mon, November 2nd, 2009 11:29am


Thanks for your comments. They mean so much to me.

Mon, November 2nd, 2009 5:19am

James Gueth

First things fast... am from Kenya and much as it is true that we tolerate color, there are some folks who can get away with it like.... from certain tribes.

This is lovely and eye opening piece and it augurs well with what I am always doing. I always stick to what I am comfortable in. I go for interviews, church services, funerals in a pair of jeans. It is good to at times ask people's opinions. And a personal invite, do come to Kenya and see those folks I was (or did I not?) talking about in all their color-clashing colors.

Tue, November 3rd, 2009 12:03pm


Jambo, I'm glad a person from Kenya read this to confirm whether what my friend told me was true. I'm looking forward to reading your work. I'll be visiting your site soon.

Thu, November 5th, 2009 3:00am

Vincey Delaney

That was very interesting, orange is a bright color but I think color should not be an issue, you can wear what you wish, light or dark colors depending on your mood. I simply love the color of orange, it's happy, cheerful!!! Anyways, great story, I liked the point you're making! Be in touch, bye for now!

Tue, November 3rd, 2009 3:31pm


Yeah, orange is cheerful. I'm really glad you liked it. I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

Thu, November 5th, 2009 3:01am


...alright then. It's not hard to see colors as a cultural aspect; after all, much art uses the same colors depending on the culture in which it originated.

Thu, November 5th, 2009 5:36am


Thanks for your comments. : )

Thu, November 5th, 2009 3:03am


Very interesting, wonderful! Happy trails!

Fri, November 6th, 2009 5:37pm


Thanks for your comments!

Sun, November 15th, 2009 9:10pm


Very nicely put :) I never thought about that before... Interesting :)

Sun, November 8th, 2009 5:25am


Thanks for your comments! : )

Sun, November 15th, 2009 9:13pm

Graeme Montrose

Very nice write. It made me think! I have lived in several different countries myslef and can relate to a lot of it. Well done!

Mon, November 16th, 2009 3:00pm


Thanks for your comments, Graeme.

Tue, November 17th, 2009 12:52am


Wow, that is very enlightening. It's really good. please drop by my page and read the new poem that i wrote and let me know what u think. ^_^

Fri, November 20th, 2009 11:51pm

Felipe Lima

Great story. I love to learn new infos about other cultures. And we may strange the japanese color and dress code, but we have the same codes in our culture, but we're so involved on it that we can realize them. Congratulation for the amazing piece, you have a natural gift for writing pieces like this.

Best Regards
Felipe :]

Sat, November 21st, 2009 3:56am

Midnight Rose

Very interesting! I love the way you write very eloquently indeed!

Sat, November 21st, 2009 7:57pm


....... Haha this story contrasts really sharply with one of my own experiences in the U.S.

I work in a very small, very casual insurance company in the northwest. One summer day, my boss--a fifty-year-old man--walks into the office wearing a pink short-sleeved shirt.

I said nothing. I barely noticed. Then, a few hours later, a customer comes in, looks at my boss's shirt, and starts to make fun of him.

My boss quietly turned to me. "What color would you say that this shirt is?" he asked me quietly.

"I'd say... more of Mexican rust color," I told him soberly. My boss nodded in approval, and walked away from the laughing customer with his gray chin held high.

Wed, December 23rd, 2009 4:54am

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