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Osaka subway drivers win court case over right to grow beards

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"Try to convince elderly Japanese women (huge % of customers) that a long beard on a staff at city office, conbini, JR counter etc is fine."

If they are old enough, they may well think it looks imperial.

This story brings to mind an incident many years back where a tinpot mayor of some town in Nagano was trying to fire two young town office workers who refused to shave off their moustaches, something "abhorrent to Japanese society, which would scare away the citizens". And then they had a visit from Prince Akishino.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A luxurious beard looks magnificent----unfortunately not all men (or women) can grow one---so many men are simply not shaving and just looking pathetically unshaven.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It took me a year to grow this goaty, Ill be damned if Ill let someone tell me I have to shave it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

u_s__reamerJan. 17  06:15 pm JST

In Meiji times sporting beards and other facial adornments were de rigueur for the upper echelons of Japanese society following the style of Emperor Meiji himself.

This was only the case because most were grown to emulate Victorian sartorial preferences.

http://journal.media-culture.org.au/files/journals/1/articles/1041/supp/1041-4171-1-SP.png

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Facial hair here is fashion, not religion. In Meiji times sporting beards and other facial adornments were de rigueur for the upper echelons of Japanese society following the style of Emperor Meiji himself.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Do beards improve or distract drivers from doing their job? 

Of course! Didnt you know that a beard can get in the way of driving any vehicle!

(I haven't shaved my beard off totally for well over 30 years here! I keep it trimmed and neat, and am far from a hairy beast, Okinawan men here have me beat on that regard! Now THEY are hairy!)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Actually with the beard I get the ojisan name-calling and kids trying to punch me or grab onto my legs. When I shave, all I hear are hellos. 

Which to me sounds like you are more approachable and friendly with the beard! They want to play with you and have fun!

Shave it and you are like all the rest of the Japanese fathers, unapproachable and no fun!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But my question is, with a beard they just call you that, but without it they treat you like any other father. So besides calling you "ojisan" when you have the beard, how else do they treat you differently?

Actually with the beard I get the ojisan name-calling and kids trying to punch me or grab onto my legs. When I shave, all I hear are hellos. In baseball here, many of the foreign players sport beards. Adults here will say I look like many different ball players even though they look totally different and I am not even in the same height or weight class as them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why is this even an issue?

Do beards improve or distract drivers from doing their job? A complete waste of time and money. Let them wear beards or not, who cares? Can they drive, that's all that matters.

When do people even see the drivers? Everyone is looking at their phones or watching the doors open and close, not a factor.

What a choice Japan. Train drivers with beards or airline pilots who drink on the job? I'll take not dying in the air for the win.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Dadude abides man. Dadude abides.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The other drivers should grow Lemmy handlebars, Salvador Dalis, Poirots, Fu Manchus or porno moustaches just to rub it in.

It would be a great PR stunt.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

 Only bad thing is going to my kids' Kindergarten and kids call me ojisan. Shave the beard, I am treated like any other father.

With or without the beard you are an "ojisan" anyway! Lol!

But my question is, with a beard they just call you that, but without it they treat you like any other father. So besides calling you "ojisan" when you have the beard, how else do they treat you differently?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wear my beard with pride and laziness. Only bad thing is going to my kids' Kindergarten and kids call me ojisan. Shave the beard, I am treated like any other father.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But many women may not be attracted to the men with beards.

Yes, this is important to this case because it's quite common for women to check out the man driving the subway train. (That's a joke. Sorry if it's a bad one!)

I don't prefer beards either, but what does it matter regarding a subway train driver?

Many women may not be attracted to men who are a bit overweight, men who have big noses, men with shaved heads, etc. Should all such men who drive Osaka subways be given poor job evaluations as well.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When more than one voice fights our corrupt judicial system, some light is at the end of the tunnel

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I work at a large luxury retailer, and I always cringe when I see the grooming standards guide. To think how much a work place can dictate that for just 40 hours out of a 168 hour long week, how you must look, this isn't just basic grooming, which yes in luxury retail you should be well groomed, but dictating hair length, colour, facial hair goes above that.

For a job like train driver it makes even less sense as they aren't interacting with customers, their role is to drive the train, not woo the passengers.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Like the hair on your head, like fingernails, beards can be kept tidily or untidily. It's a matter of personal health and hygiene, which doesn't seem to have been an issue at all in this case since neither side brought it up.

As a Westerner I don't always think that majority opinion/current trends are enough motivation for me to comply (when rules and contracts have more leeway or are silent on the matter), but even if you want to talk about that, it's true in customer service you want to comply with the majority of your customer's tastes as much as possible, but no matter what you do or look like, there will always be a few for whom you are not their cup of tea. The article does not say the city made clear exactly how many complaints they received. The vast majority of customers probably don't notice or care. In my experience customers who feel strongly enough about issues like this to vocalize/file official complaints are rarely an accurate reflection of typical social norms themselves.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Buklfighter* things aren’t as black and white as that. Which is better Japan or America? Not that simple mate. A small victory for self expression in an over reaching rigid society rightly deserves a bit of praise. Doesn’t mean the whole country will now become beardville. All good.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Yuburu and others:

The US allows private companies to set arbitrary beard and hair regs too, unfortunately US courts have upheld.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am a Japanese with a beard. Nonetheless, I do not equate this court decision with something that will somehow lead to a better Japan. If non-conformity somehow made for a better country, one would expect the US to out perform Japan on all social indicators. It doesn't. Same for tattoos. When I was growing up in the US in the 50s and 60s, the only people who had tattoos were guys who had been in the Navy, the Merchant Marine, or in circuses. Now all manner of Americans have tattoos. I'd like to see it demonstrated that the US is a better place now than it was because many people have tattoos.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

The city had defended its position by saying it had received complaints from citizens who found the beards distasteful. 

One of the things I’ve never understood about Japan. The inherent fear of imbecile claimers! If you try and live a life that pleases everyone, well, we all know how that goes.

Claims have way too much weight here. Grow some cahoonas and have a bit of confidence in what you do.

Well done to these bearders for standing firm. Very manly of you!!!

JR, weak loses this time! Grow some sense!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Different cultures have different standards. Beards and tattoo may be common in the West. Good ones can look very cool, in my opinion. But Japan has a different perception. Try to convince elderly Japanese women (huge % of customers) that a long beard on a staff at city office, conbini, JR counter etc is fine. Good luck!

This isn't about tattoos, it 's about facial hair! Convincing elderly people that having a beard is ok is meaningless and pointless. It is like me trying to convince elderly Japanese men to shave their heads rather than keep those silly comb over hair stands.

I have worked with Japanese co-workers who are public servants and while most of the men were clean shaven there were some with beards and there was never a single complaint brought against them from the employer nor public.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Second, for a look that's supposedly 'unprofessional,' Tokugawa Ieyasu sure rocked a beard and 'stache like a champ.

Also:

Abraham Lincoln

Leonardo Da Vinci

Santa Clause

William Shakespeare

Etc etc. Totally unprofessional group of people there.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Some posters are bringing up tattoos. Not a fan myself. Looks trashy especially in a work place. Glad Japan isn't bending over backwards to "Western" ideals of tatsalthough some provisions are being made for big events.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

@ Marcelito. Different cultures have different standards. Beards and tattoo may be common in the West. Good ones can look very cool, in my opinion. But Japan has a different perception. Try to convince elderly Japanese women (huge % of customers) that a long beard on a staff at city office, conbini, JR counter etc is fine. Good luck!

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

grooming standards in 2012, under which male employees were prohibited from growing beards under a policy promoted by then Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

So it's based only by one man decision?

Few years back still in Osaka they required city employee that have tattoo to report if they have one.The city required them to reply in writing whether they had any tattoos on visible parts of the body, including the hands and neck. They were also asked to answer on a voluntary basis whether they had tattoos elsewhere. 

So that's not enough, they want to go track and limit employee beard now.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I am wavering on this. While I believe in freedom, beards usually look untidy. Not many men in customer service or government have beards in Japan. It looks unprifessional. If you are self employed, no issue at all!

Ganbare - Thats interesting , you live in Australia where an untold number of men in " customer service and government " have beards, as soon as you step off a plane you can see customs and police officers , great many of them have beards and on top of it , shock and horror , tatooes. Would you go up to them and say they are unprofessional and you are offended?  As in this case , it does not affect their performance one bit.

But many women may not be attracted to the men with beards.

My experience is the polar opposite, as long as the beard is kept tidy and the men keep stylish women have no issues with it.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

As a dude with a pretty long beard down into my chest & a hefty stache I salute the Osaka municipal court so some MUCH needed common sense!

As for people who think beards are or sometimes untidy etc...…...to hell with you!!

I see people all day long with REALLY NASTY hair all the time we going to start banning them from jobs, make them shave themselves bald(nothing wrong with bald by the way, many bold guys rock SERIOUS beards!!)

The issue here is freedom & the oh so RARE common sense, I sense a breath of fresh air today, its called a start!

And yeah would be nice to see some progress for our fellow man with tats as well!!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Japan needs to be less strict when it comes to physical appearance. I once applied for a job at h.i.s. and they asked me to cut my hair short if I would get the position. What?

I agree with Cleo and since1981. Nobody cares about or even sees the drivers face. And yes, if you work in a position where you meet clients, it should be properly groomed but that is common sense.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It looks unprifessional

To be sure, a dirty and / or unkempt beard looks unprofessional, but I think we can make an allowance for a well-groomed beard.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

This is good evidence of how the state in Japan seeks to encourage physical conformity.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

because wearing beards is a matter of "individual freedom

Colour me very shocked. I assumed standing out was unacceptable in good ol japan

 many women may not be attracted to the men with beards.

Massive LOL. Where's your statistical data for drawing this absurd conclusion?

8 ( +12 / -4 )

The city probably never received any complaints about their beards. Thats the go to lie in Japan “we have received a complaint from a customer”...

18 ( +19 / -1 )

male employees were prohibited from growing beards under a policy promoted by then Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

He also tried to ban dancing, and that one failed in court (Club Noon). Two points for sanity in the Osaka courts!

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Why does it matter what citizens think??

I am willing to bet that this was more about one manager somewhere, more than likely a guy, who could grow one himself, using this as an excuse to get these drivers to shave them off!

I have had similar excuses used towards me, regarding other things, "a customer", "a co-worker" said this, or that, so "you have to do this" when the actual "comment" came from the person themselves but are using an anonymous "somebody" as an excuse. When pressed to say who the person was that made the complaint or comment, the typical answer is, "We don't want you to go after them" (Using the plural WE like everyone in the place has the same opinion)"So just do what WE want".

9 ( +11 / -2 )

And what's wrong with my Sunday morning dress? How do you know what I wear on Sunday mornings?

I assumed she meant what someone would wear to church, which would actually be pretty formal, so I was kinda confused too...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

According to your logic, you may meet up business partners in your Sunday morning dress, because they are not looking at how attractive you are

The people I do business with judge me on my translation skills (=whether I can get the job done), not on what I wear or what I put on my face while I'm working.

And what's wrong with my Sunday morning dress? How do you know what I wear on Sunday mornings?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Getting back on topic, having a beard that is well groomed is NOT a bad thing. The so called citizens (how many we'll never know) have no right to complaint about those guys just because they don't like guys with beards. He is transporting you to your destination, not looking to marry you! We all are blessed to have the ability to control what we look at. If you don't like it, don't look. I have had a (well groomed) beard on and off for over 30 years here in Japan, mostly on and it has never ever had a negative impact on how any of my customers, neighbors, colleagues and so on view me. Japan, mainly in the big cities have too many people that are judgmental. And it usually only takes one customer to complaint about one's personal appearance for the company to request the employee to change. ---So if I complain to JR about female staff who have hair that is too short because I prefer women with long hair, would they order their female staff to grow their hair?

14 ( +16 / -2 )

The question behind this is about what decree of control a company has over people they hire. Many people wear beards because of their faith. Could it be that Osaka is opening up employment to more foreign workers?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The city had defended its position by saying it had received complaints from citizens who found the beards distasteful.

Riddle me this. Why does it matter what citizens think??

The train driver sits in the front compartment and does not interact with passengers. The only time passengers see the train driver is when the trains are pulling in the station, or, perhaps, when drivers enter the driver's compartment.

And citizens will ride the train regardless, yes?

Look, I understand grooming standards and dress codes, particularly for private companies. But in this case, it seems clear that this is rooted in the personal preferences of some city officials and company management executives and are not necessary in relation to the job in question,

22 ( +23 / -1 )

many women may not be attracted to the men with beards

As a woman, I have to admit I'm not usually attracted to men with beards (There are exceptions....)

But when I get on a train I'm not looking for the driver to be attractive. I want him to be a good, safe driver.

Whether or not he is 'attractive' is not an issue at all, and whether or not he has a beard is none of my business.

Assuming of course that it isn't long enough to get caught in the gear stick or whatever it is that drives the train.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

All this effort just for a little individuality! Too much conformity inhibits self expression and essentially creativity. No wonder change here is so slow.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

But, no tattoos of course.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Very good result!Any other opinion can be simply ignored.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Judges will say O.K. about beards but never about tattoos, I guess.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

While I believe in freedom, beards usually look untidy. Not many men in customer service or government have beards in Japan. It looks unprifessional. If you are self employed, no issue at all! But many women may not be attracted to the men with beards.

Firstly, what does the attraction factor of women have to do with the capability of a train driver to do their job, namely drive a train?

Second, for a look that's supposedly 'unprofessional,' Tokugawa Ieyasu sure rocked a beard and 'stache like a champ.

29 ( +32 / -3 )

I am wavering on this. While I believe in freedom, beards usually look untidy. Not many men in customer service or government have beards in Japan. It looks unprifessional. If you are self employed, no issue at all! But many women may not be attracted to the men with beards.

-42 ( +6 / -48 )

The first of, hopefully many more, chinks in the armor of conformity here!

25 ( +30 / -5 )

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