Apparently the two block hairstyle is too dangerous for kids to have.

Japan has a lot of school rules that don’t make a lot of sense. While exact regulations vary by specific school, some of the more frustrating ones we’ve examined include “students must participate in extracurricular activities,” “girls must not wear tights,” and “students’ underwear must be white.”

Today, though, let’s talk about a head-related head-scratcher: Tokyo public high schools not allowing students to have what’s known in Japanese as a “two block” hairstyle. In simple terms, it’s a style where the har is trimmed short at the sides and back, but left long on top.

▼ Japanese Google search results for “two block”

At a meeting of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly (Tokyo’s city council equivalent), assemblyman Yuichi Ikegawa, a member of the Japanese Communist Party representing a district of Tokyo’s Machida City, wanted to know why the two block hairstyle is prohibited, and got a very surprising answer, as shown in the video below.

▼ The meeting took place in March, but Ikegawa only recently posted the video through his Twitter account.

As the video opens, the 35-year-old Ikegawa, wearing a gray suit and blue tie, stands up and poses his question.

“I have heard from so many students that, when they ask why the two block hairstyle is not allowed, they are stubbornly told ‘Because that’s the rule’ or ‘Those are the school regulations.’

So why is it not allowed?”

We then see Yuji Fujita, the head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, standing at a podium to give his response. The video jumps a few times as he starts speaking, but shows him saying:

“In regards to the hairstyle you mention…there are cases of students being involved in incidents or getting into accidents as a result of their appearance, and so the rule is something that has been put in place with the objective of protecting the students.”

▼ But wouldn’t it be even safer to give all the kids helmets, to cushion them against impacts and hide any dangerous haircuts?

It’s worth noting that in Japanese, the term jiken (“incident”) often refers to some sort of dangerous altercation or other or other trouble with the law. After delivering his response, Fujita then swiftly leaves the podium, while Ikegawa attempts to follow up with:

“So what you’re saying just now is that if they have a two block hairstyle, there is a chance that students will be involved in incidents and accidents? If I may speak frankly, I don’t understand what you mean by that. I think that’s a surprising answer. Does any data actually exist that shows that having a two block hairstyle makes someone more likely to get into such trouble or accidents?

When kids get into trouble, the message that reaches them isn’t that there’s a problem with their hairstyle. I do not believe that schools banning two block hairstyles has any basis in societal common sense or the progression of modern times, and is simply an arbitrary requirement set by schools.”

No doubt making the two block prohibition especially frustrating for students is that it’s arguably the most popular hairstyle among Japanese teens and young adults, being featured on the heads of numerous pop idols and TV drama stars. The two block has become a common enough sight that many Twitter commenters who watched Ikegawa’s videos were also left exasperated by Fujita’s explanation.

“There’s no need to ban the two block.”
“They had this rule at the junior high I went to…It’s totally out of touch with the times.”
“Hairstyling is a form of personal expression. I think it’s unconstitutional for a school rule to impose upon the student’s freedom of expression.”
“A two block is just common sense these days. People trim their hair at the sides and back before it gets too long or hot. It’s not like 30 years ago where two blocks were only something super-fashionable Harajuku guys or punk rockers had.”

The last comment points to what might be the rationale behind the no-two-block rule. Taken in its loosest definition, a two block could also include mohawks, as well as certain types of pompadours, which also have a strong association with gangs and juvenile delinquency in Japan. Perhaps it’s that image that Fujita and others behind the ban are worried about, and they feel that two blocks are favored by youths likely to go looking for trouble and find it. Alternatively, they may also feel that boys with more modern, fashionable two blocks are concentrating more on their appearance than their studies, though that leaves the question of how that will cause them to be involved in “incidents and accidents.”

Even a few Twitter commenters to Ikegawa’s post voiced their opinions that they think a two block is unacceptable for a high schooler, so it’s unlikely that the ban will be repealed anytime soon, but at least students in Tokyo with naturaly brown hair won’t be forced to dye it black anymore.

Source: Twitter/@u1_ikegawa via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Google, Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still doesn’t understand why his junior high school’s dress code bothered to ban ascots, as though anyone wanted to wear one.