“Black Regulation” in Japanese Schools.

By Wakaba Nakanishi


Every school has regulations to try and shape us to be the “same” as everyone else  in terms of appearance and behavior for a comfortable school life and to acquire proper behavior, to be normal. Really though?

Japanese society  has a reputation for being conforming: In the fast food restaurants, you have to return what you eat, tray etc yourself, and still there is an idea that married women do housework at home and men work outside. One area of societal conformity is school regulations. I am one who experienced school regulations in Japan till middle school.

Don’t bring a phone

The skirts must be below the knees

The socks and shoes must be sparkling white

The hair should not touch the shoulder and collar

These are the regulations that I had in middle school and also the most common ones. Maybe these may not be too strict. However, how about these regulations?

Students can not drink water during class.

Underwear must be white or flesh-colored.

If the hair is naturally curly or brown, it must be reported to school authorities.

Prohibition against any romantic relationship.

Without school permission, long sleeves in PE class even in winter is prohibited

These “Black Regulations” – unreasonable school rules that seem unacceptable in modern civil society adversely affect children’s health and dignity – has stirred discussion. Chiki Ogiue who is a critic says, there is belief that “Black Regulations” can make students survive in  unreasonable societies. A Japanese saying goes, “you must hit the nail that stands out” and it means one must beware of being different. Using fear, Japanese society strongly encourages conformity. However, before adults demand unreasonable expectations by cutting off the will of contemporary of young people and telling them “What to do” and “ It must be like this,” they should know that what they are doing debilitates youth.

When we get into a college or company, these organizations say, “I want to have creative talent that is unique”. Is it possible for people to have uniqueness when they grew up being told to be the same as everyone? Since everyone is required to be uniformed, it is difficult and scary to be different from other people. Not only to get into a good college or company, but being honest with themselves will also be difficult for they have lived their lives conforming to societal expectations.Creative and individuality is stifled by Black Regulations.

I don’t think a lot of rules make a school better. I hope, schools will give freedom of choice for students so that students can be individuals and think for themselves. Japanese students have a voice that is ready to be heard – don’t let it be too late.


Works Cited

  1. 海津敦子 . “半数の中学が下着の色まで校則で指定!…アクティブラーニングと真逆?.”HuffPost Japan, HuffPost Japan, 20 Oct. 2016, www.huffingtonpost.jp/atsuko-kaizu/strict-school-rule_b_12553504.html.
  2. “司法における「ブラック校則」問題と、これからの政治の役割.” SYNODOS, SYNODOS, 13 Dec. 2017, Wed, synodos.jp/education/20797.

2 thoughts on ““Black Regulation” in Japanese Schools.

  1. Senior Editor Bailey B.

    This is a very thought-provoking and interesting article about a subject I didn’t know much about!

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