A Japanese teenager is suing her school for forcing her to darken her natural brown hair


Yup. As I understand it, most highly industrialized nations have a low birthrate, and are experiencing a decline in population when you factor out immigration. If immigration isn’t high enough (like Japan), the population drops.

There’s a big problem on the horizon: Capitalism works either on infinite expansion, or boom-bust cycles. Both of which are bad. But, once every nation is highly industrialized, and there’s no more readily exploitable cheap labor overseas, the global population is going to drop, and in all likelihood economies are going to shrink. I don’t see any consideration for how a nation’s economy can gracefully shrink, and this by itself could push human society into a fundamentally different economic model.



I thought it was fairly common for Japanese to dye their hair brown or other colors. I knew a guy from Singapore, sorta email pen pals. Ran a toy company. Anyway, he lamented going to Japan and seeing so many people with dyed hair. I didn’t ask out right what the issue was, but it appeared he was a traditionalist when it came that sort of thing. Hair color was westernizing the culture.

So yes, this story has me a bit confused as I thought it was common to not have black hair, but perhaps her school is very traditional and even if it was a natural color, it wasn’t the “right” color. Remember Japan, overall, is extremely… I hesitate to say racist, because its more like Nationalist. They look down on other Asians, and hold their people and culture in high regards. So much so that they have made it very hard for anyone to immigrate, despite also not fucking enough and they are starting to shrink in population.


Little bit of column A, little bit of column B. Just because as White Americans we view Japanese as being the same “race” as Chinese or Koreans doesn’t mean they think that way. I had an argument once with a Japanese friend of mine about Japanese not being Asian, and Japan being its own Continent.

Also worth mentioning, the insults that Japanese people use most maliciously (and thus get most mad about) usually have a component of non-japanese-ness to them. “Ketou”, “Hairy Chinese” or “Mongoloid” are very rude.


Right. Granted their are some differences, but where as most people separate them out as “Asian”, they further classify themselves as different from Chinese, Korean, etc. They certainly see themselves as special. America can’t even be the best at exceptionalism any more. :wink:

I can’t remember which comedian now, but on Netflix there was a guy who was doing a commercial or something and the direct was Japanese. There was a crew member who was Filipino and he didn’t like him at all. When the comedian asked him why, he made a click with his mouth and pulled at his skin.


I don’t agree with the Nationalist way of thinking for various countries, Japan and China are hardly the only ones doing this, but i can sympathize with the why on some level. I understand that they are proud of their heritage and history, and wanting to keep it a strong and central part of their modern identity is a valid concern. But going as far as to be xenophobic, actively controlling what citizens are allowed to do or what is considered being a real “whatever” (in this particular case Japanese), and discriminating against foreigners or even those of the population that aren’t pure or traditional enough, these things are deeply harmful. There are ways to positively encourage, teach and make relevant the heritage of a culture; but by definition culture is an ever changing thing. If someone wants it to be immutable then what they’re looking for is a history book. Reality does not work that way.


The alternative to a declining population, however, is a Malthusian clusterfuck.


It is my understanding that all Japanese used to be right handed.


Oh please, the very term “American” should give one pause. :wink:


This goes against any Japanese anime depicting school I’ve ever seen ever. You’d think they had hair colors like a box of crayons if you used that as a guide.


I’ve read about schools in Korea with regulations that literally require black hair. The explanation was that the objective was to ban dyed hair but the officials who wrote the rules never imagined that students might naturally have other hair colours.

If the same is true in Japan, it seems that the school can’t admit that it screwed up by rigidly enforcing a flawed regulation so it is doubling down on the stupid instead and insisting that it really does require black hair.


The “sphere of flesh” would be more like an opposite, wouldn’t you say? Whilst there would be a range of alternatives including stasis and gradual increase.


Sphere of flesh you say?


Read through the linked Japanese news sources, all(1) are legit, not tabloid or otherwise sensationalized. It is true that there are strict dress code & appearance standards in Japanese schools. From what I understand this case is uncommon and at the edge of these standards.

  1. Japan Times can be tabloid-ish at times, or even very often but here they don’t really exaggerate.

It is very uncommon for anything but the darkest of browns to be natural here.

Other cultures have their own ways and standards!?!?!?! Say it aint so!

Very true in many ways. But sometimes the nail that sticks up ends up setting a standard for hammering.

In my experience even including some “elite” domestic companies, most work places won’t have an issue with hair color. That said everywhere has some kind of dress code and in some environments that will be strict and “professional” and somewhat traditional in the local context.

Among long term foreign residents here theres a real tendency to laugh at the western weeaboo types who think they can just come here and maintain whatever unusual personal styles or imagine that Japan will accommodate their individual wants and needs. Its amazing how much “what do you mean my green hair/10 facial piercings/visible tattoos aren’t OK?” type questions get asked.

Things aren’t cracking like that it seems. There was an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs talking about how after Rakuten switched their internal corporate language to English, in fact things became more traditionally Japanese due to greater communication of expectations.

Even in “new” companies, its expected that the fresh grads will show up the first year or two in their dark suits with appropriate haircuts and so on.

Discrimination can be a thing anywhere on this earth. I’ve encountered some “Japanese Only” places and even been inside a few. Generally this is about maintaining standards of behavior and not bothering the staff with unusual off menu requests, etc. That and being able to read the menu, speak to the staff and so on. Worth noting there are also plenty of places which aren’t “members only” but you can only get in there if a regular customer invites you.

Was that Debito Arudo? If so he’s famous for being the professional complaining gaijin.

Trying to avoid the attention of Japanese girls? Well… thats different!

I’ve mentioned this before, but in my wife’s small hometown in central Japan, nowadays there is a really big population of brazilians, chinese, south east asians and others. So much so that the city hall publishes information more in those languages than in English and almost as much as in Japanese.

People in the neighborhood generally only care if the non-Japanese can’t follow the local rules about trash disposal, noise, etc. Otherwise I do see a group of grandmothers of Japanese and non-Japanese at the local park enjoying a chat while their grandchildren play together in the playground area.

There is some truth to this, its kind of about “why can’t so and so manage to behave ‘right’”.

As do the Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc.

Things are not immutable here but just as anywhere there are some baseline cultural components.


It’s very common for Japanese adults, esp. women to die their hair various shades of brown. But in most middle school and high schools it is not allowed. Not just dying hair, but having any kind of perm, wearing makeup or jewelry, etc. Teachers will regularly check girls earlobes to make sure their ears haven’t been pierced, and any girls or guys with hair that is naturally light or curly become targets for harassment from teachers.

Most schools are sane enough to allow a doctor’s note that states that the child’s hair is naturally light or curly, but not all schools are so ‘progressive’.

This is actually relaxed a bit more than how it was in earlier decades, when at least through middle school all boys would have to shave their heads and girls would be allowed short hair only. You can still find many schools with this requirement, esp. for students in sports.

Try to find a HS baseball team where all the boys don’t have shaved heads, or a HS girl’s volleyball team that allows the girls to have long hair. You won’t find any. Even as adults, if you look at the Japanese women’s volleyball team, only 1 or two of them have long hair. Though short hair is no longer required for them, most of them tend to keep it short anyway.


Does that make it okay? If restaurants in my town proposed a “No Mexicans” policy out of concern that they might not speak English I’d be pretty mad.


Yup. Buddy of mine went to Tokyo back in March with his SO. Neither speak a word of Japanese, and neither bothered to learn. So, they encountered plenty of places that didn’t want to let them dine there. They managed to bully a few into letting them in. That stereotype Americans have in the world… Yeah.

Conversely, although my command of the language has greatly faded since college, my last trip there last year I never got turned away anywhere with my brother and I, after a few politely exchanged words and mentioning what I read on the signs and menu.


Different cultures have different standards. I’m not happy with some of this stuff but I understand the reasoning behind it, especially when in the past non-Japanese have caused lots of trouble because they didn’t understand the rules. Like going into the public bath without washing beforehand, or causing a drunken ruckus in what was supposed to be a classy bar, or harassing the female patrons, etc. etc. etc. Locals don’t like these kinds of disturbances and often don’t know how to deal with them at all so they simply resort to clearly stating they don’t want the custom of non-Japanese.

Even in a nice suit I got turned away at the door of a particular whisky bar in Ginza for these reasons even I only spoke Japanese and came with a Japanese friend. Again, wasn’t happy about it but understood the context.


Oh believe me its not just Americans and not just tourists! I know a number of Europeans and British who’ve been here for years who do the same.

A little bit of effort goes a long way here. You basically described my first trip here in the early 90s right there. Even in smaller towns, a few words, a smile and pointing to stuff in the display case resulted in a delicious meal.


When my wife was a kid, the rebellious girls would lengthen their uniform skirts!