J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Monday, June 01, 2015


School Rules and the Wolf Cut

According many Japanese commentators such as Shiba Ryoutaro (1986) the rule of law, and laws themselves, are extremely important in the USA, in places where traditional praxes, ways of doing things may suffice in Japan. Indeed one of the ways in which Japan is now awash with Western culture is that it is being swamped with requirements to manualize everything. Wakamatsu (2007), a former Toyota line manager, argues that the recent glut of written materials (shiryou 資料) can kill efficiency with a lethal dose ([chi]shiryou)死量) of voluminous paper (shiryou 紙量). I think he is right. The recent lack of competitive efficiency of Japanese companies is I believe due to their sinking under mountains of shiryou with western sounding names (po-toforio, adomisshion porishi-, gurajue-shon porishi-), in an attempt to be as linguistically regulated as Western countries.

Despite the fact that the West, or at least the USA, is know as being the land of the "shiryou" Westerners at the same time like to draw attention to some of the places in which Japanese have traditionally been very strict, as in the above image, school student dress regulations. And these regulations certainly are very strict, attempting to define each measurement, each cloth colour, the types of hairstyle that are allowed. So why is it that in this particular area, the Japanese have voluminous regulations?

There are so many regulations on appearance because the Japanese desire to express themselves in their appearance so much, that regulations of this severity are required to prevent them from being outlandish (which somehow the Japanese are also claimed to be).

I do not mean to suggest that Japanese are any more or less collectivistic than Westerners. Elsewhere, however, always the focus is upon collectivism and individualism. The image above is from a paper entitled "The Nail That Came out all the Way," which suggests that Japanese outlandishness is individualistic aberration in the face of ruthless, 'militaristic', collectivism. Many people still hold this impression of Japan. Bearing in mind the way that individualism is valourised in the West, being thought a militantly collectivistic country is, needless to say not a positive impression.

The truth is that Japanese dress and dress codes are neither outlandishly individualistic nor collectivist to the point of being militaristic, but that the Japanese have a stronger desire to express themselves matri-visually, in their wombimagocentric culture. They care not a toss about daddy and his logos, but they want to look cool at least in large part for mummy, or at least originating in the pleasure of her simulated gaze.

The hairstyle shown above bottom (from Google image search) is called a "wolf cut" which is spiky at the front, with along wolf's mane hanging behind, is certainly pretty noticeable. No wolf cuts is one of the items of the above dress code. That Japanese schools wish to ban wolf-cuts does need to surprise. That British school do not have an explicit ban on the "wolf cut" is more to do with the lack of self-expression in the area, that liberal nature of British school dress codes. Correspondingly there are few hate speech laws, or other curbs on linguistic expression, since, for the most part, the Japanese do not desire to be radical in their speech, but they do have some wild haircuts.

Image top from Thorsten Morimoto, 1996, p206, originally from Sakamoto, 1986.
Image bottom from Google image search "ウルフカット"

Thorsten Morimoto, M. (1996). The Nail That Came Out All the Way. In W. Dissanayake (Ed.), Narratives of agency: Self-making in China, India, and Japan. U of Minnesota Press.
坂本秀夫. (1986). 「校則」の研究―だれのための生徒心得か. 東京: 三一書房.
司馬遼太郎. (1986). アメリカ素描. 読売新聞社.
若松義人. (2007). トヨタの上司は現場で何を伝えているのか. Tōkyō: PHP研究所.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.