It recently came to public notice that a portion of public high schools in the Tokyo metropolis have banned students from wearing their hair in dreadlocks. (The Japanese term for this translates as "tube-locks hair.")
When a Tokyo metropolitan assemblyman queried the board of education regarding the rationale for this particular regulation, he was informed, "There is the possibility that the wearer might encounter an incident or accident."
This seemingly illogical (or irrational) rule led Spa (Aug 11-18) to examine what's been going on at schools around the nation in terms of tondemo kosoku (outrageous school regulations).
A high school student in Tohoku told the magazine her school required that both upper and lower undergarments were required to be white. "I was really embarrassed when a male teacher told me that he could see the color of my bra through my blouse," she related.
Ryo Uchida, an associate professor at Nagoya University graduate school, described the regulation as one of the few that has persisted "since Showa times," adding, "Normally it's the job of female instructors to perform these checks; for a man to make such a remark is outright sexual harassment."
Some schools have required that the face masks worn by students be no color except white, and in extreme cases, that they be "Abenomasks" supplied free of charge from the government.
A 20-year-old man named Kenta recalls that at his school, purple objects were banned. "The aim was to curb delinquent behavior, as purple was popular among yankii (delinquent) students."
At the school 19-year-old Yuki attended, cosmetic surgery was banned. When her classmate had a nose job, she was singled out by the teacher and obliged to write a letter of apology.
At another school, girls were prohibited from wearing their hair in pony tails, because -- are you ready for this? -- "girls' exposing the nape of their necks might arouse boys' erotic feelings."
Another absurd rule prohibits imbibing of coffee or tea beverages by high school students, due to the belief that caffeine is "unhealthy for young people." But the catch is, the school does not ban students from drinking of health elixirs or energy drinks that are chock full of caffeine.
Spa cited a March 2018 questionnaire in which people of different age segments up to age 60 were asked about their experiences with school regulations. These included: fixed length of skirt hems (for girls); being seated before the bell rings at the start of class; color of undergarments; prohibition on shopping en route to home; leaving behind textbooks or dictionaries; prohibition on use of hair pomade; drinking water during phys ed or club activities; limitations on hair length; detailed description on what type of hair styles are permitted; and prohibition on trimming eyebrows.
With one exception (drinking water), all the others seem to be enforced more energetically recently than they were one or two decades ago.
In a sidebar, the writer examines two middle schools in Tokyo's Setagaya and Chiyoda wards that have essentially dispensed with regulations regarding hair and clothing, bringing a smart phone or tablet computer, sounding bells between classes, disciplining tardy students, allowing students to study in the hallways instead of attending class. Did this result in anarchy? In the case of the Kojimachi Middle School in Chiyoda Ward, according to one educator, "Cases of classroom violence or ijime (harassment) declined, more students were admitted to better high schools, and the average academic achievement rose."
The above school also dispensed with requiring submission of homework and taking of regular examinations. Yet their average grades rose to the top level in the city and incidents of trouble seldom occurred.
One question that arises is, will these progressive schools -- which are both located in relatively affluent Tokyo neighborhoods -- eventually be emulated by those in other parts of Japan, or will they remain anomalies?© Japan Today