For decades, being a student in Tokyo meant looking a certain way. The dress code of the public school system required all students to dye their hair black, certain hairstyles were forbidden, and even their underwear had to be a certain color.
But those rules, which have recently been scrutinized and criticized as outdated, will now be scrapped, the city announced this week.
Other rules being cut include the practice of punishing students with a form of house arrest and ambiguous wording in the rules about what is considered “typical of high school students.”
Policy changes take effect at the start of the new semester April 1st. The move comes after the Tokyo Board of Education conducted a survey last year in which schools, students and parents asked about their views on politics.
Tokyo isn’t the only Japanese city with a strict dress code – similar rules apply across the country, and many schools require students to wear a specific color of shoes and socks.
As in Tokyo, Fukuoka conducted a public survey last year in which students complained that the dress code stressed them and limited their self-expression, Asahi said.
The issue came to the fore in 2017 when a high school student in Osaka Prefecture sued her school, a case that drew nationwide attention and sparked widespread public debate about restrictive dress codes.
Her lawsuit alleged that the frequent dyeing damaged her hair and scalp and caused her mental disorders. Last year, she won 330,000 yen (about $2,790) in damages.
Other students and their families have since made similar complaints, while several schools have announced a change to the dress code.