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Japanese schools have become synonymous with strict rules and regulations.
But now, one dress code has got everyone scratching their heads due to the reason behind it: females are no longer allowed to wear their hair in a ponytail because the nape of their necks might "sexually arouse" male students.
Former middle school teacher, Motoki Sugiyama, lifted the lid on schools' infamous rules while speaking to VICE. Sugiyama has worked across five different schools during his 11-year stretch as a teacher in Shizuoka.
"They're worried boys will look at girls," Sugiyama said, about a separate rule that requires female students to wear white underwear, so it doesn't show through their uniforms. In Fukuoka city, research found in 2021 that 57 out of 69 junior high schools dictated the colour of students' underwear.
If students ignored the draconian policy, they were allegedly told to remove their underwear and have their parents informed.
"I've always criticized these rules, but because there's such a lack of criticism and it's become so normalized, students have no choice but to accept them," he said.
But now, the "ponytail ban" has been added to buraku kōsoku or 'black rules'.
While there are no nationwide statistics on how many schools impose a ponytail ban, a 2020 survey said that around one in ten schools in Fukuoka have stopped the hairstyle.
Such regulations have dated back to 1870 but were amplified in the 70s and 80s to stop violence and bullying in schools.
Some schools, however, are ditching some of the outdated rules.
A spokesperson for Hosoyamada Junior High School in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima told the publication that their dress code rules had changed last year after students complained.
Ponytails and pigtails are still prohibited, but their underwear is no longer required to be white. It can be grey, black, or navy blue.
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