Are buzz cuts mandatory for members of Japanese high school baseball teams?

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Do you need to have a buzz cut to be on a baseball team in Japan?

A Kahoku Shimpo reader from Sendai has a son in high school who wants to continue playing baseball but isn’t comfortable cutting his hair short – a tradition for high school kids on the baseball team.

Kahoku Shimpo spoke to baseball coaches as well as the Miyagi High School Baseball Federation to find out if hairstyle is a requirement for team members these days.

For baseball players at Shibata High School in Shibata, Miyagi Prefecture, which first won a spot to compete in the national high school baseball tournament in the spring, cutting their hair short is an unspoken rule.

“They only have two and a half years to devote to baseball,” said team coach Makoto Hiratsuka, 48. “So I want the students to focus on baseball instead of thinking about their hairstyles.”

When asked about the main reasons behind the rule, many high school baseball team coaches spoke about tradition, the need to focus on the sport, and how easier it is to play that way.

However, none of them believed that the hairstyle would affect a student’s skills or performance in baseball.

Furukawa Gakuen in Osaki City also demands that all of his players have their hair cropped close to the ground.

“It’s about the mindset and attitude towards baseball,” said team coach Ryo Yonekura, 37, noting that each school has its own rules and that students have the freedom to choose the schools to which they apply.

Compiled in 1950, the Japan Student Baseball Charter – which sets out the principles of school baseball – does not include any regulations regarding hairstyles.

The Miyagi High School Baseball Federation allows each school to decide its own approach, but most schools require baseball team members to cut their hair.

“The federation does not plan to establish rules,” said Yoshitsugu Matsumoto, president of the federation. “There’s no rule that says you have to have a buzz cut, and it’s up to each school to decide.”

However, a growing number of schools allow baseball players to choose their own hairstyle.

Sanuma High School in Tome City, also in Miyagi Prefecture, abolished the tradition in the fall of 2019. The players asked their coach to change the rule after seeing their opponents in a practice match wearing shirts. different hairstyles.

Currently, the school does not have special hair length rules. But players have agreed to avoid wearing their hair cut and tucking their bangs inside their caps during practices and games.

“The students seem more confident since they stopped taking their breath away,” said coach Yasuhiro Matsui, 48.

When Matsui was in elementary school, he once burst into tears when he had to shave his hair, because he didn’t want to.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to play baseball without having a buzz cut,” he recalls. “Some students must feel the same.”

In May, only a handful of high schools allowed their baseball players to style their hair according to their preferences.

In some cases, parents of players complain to coaches about shaved hair. Other coaches have said it would be better to end the tradition if maintaining it means more players are leaving the sport.

Students at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen, who is one of the powerhouses of high school baseball in Japan, were forced to have a buzz cut, but the school began to consider easing its policy.

According to team coach Wataru Sue, 38, some students have been hesitant to join the club because they feel uncomfortable with the haircut.

“The downsides of keeping the rule of uniform haircuts are getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “Maybe this is a turning point.”

This section presents topics and issues from the Tohoku region covered by Kahoku Shimpo, the largest newspaper in Tohoku. The original article was published on June 29.

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