Apparently a beard is not popular in Japan, sometimes not even a mustache. Have you ever wondered why the Japanese don’t have or use beards? Is it because they don’t grow many hairs? Or do they consider lack of hygiene? In this article I will try to explain everything about beards in Japan.
In Japan, they use the word hige [髭] to refer to facial hair, beard or moustache. You can specify whether it is a beard or moustache by saying the location before hygiene. Even the Japanese language does not seem to like beards, as the pronunciation hige is also used in the word self-deprecation [卑下].
By nature, not many people grow hair in Japanese, so much so that there are men who have never had to shave. Although Japanese women don’t care about hair removal from pubes, some consider it a lack of hygiene for men to have beards.
Another thing that makes it difficult for men to shave in Japan is the law of many Japanese companies that do not allow the use of beards and the population does not seem interested in fighting against it. The fact is that beards are not considered popular or attractive in Japan, and can cause a violent and rebellious image.
The history of beard in Japan
In the past, beards were seen in Japan as a symbol of power, especially among samurai who wanted to cause a sérious and dangerous appearance. Some samurai even used false beards to make a good impression. This is exactly what resulted in the unpopularity of beard.
Hige (beard) represented the fighting spirit of a samurai, when the country became a civil government, wearing a beard meant rebelling against that government. So many samurai of the time shaved their beards and some made a knot or coke behind their heads.
Discrimination increased when they began using the word ketou [毛唐] to refer to foreigners. The Ainu people also became known for wearing whiskers, other high-ranking people after the Meiji era also wore whiskers and beards and even stood out for it. Even in the last century it was not unusual to find men with beards.
How is the beard faced in Japan today?
Some famous people wear beards like the contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, Hayao Miyazaki, Hideo Kojima, Sailor Fuku Ojisan [Hideaki Kobayashi], Yamada Takayuki and Jumpei Yasuda. Young people don’t usually wear beards because girls don’t like this style, they prefer a cute little face to the standard of male beauty in Japan.
I can say with certainty that there are no negative stigmas with regard to beards. Even Japanese people have played with Azuki beans to make lying beards. The truth is that many Japanese who can have beards are either descendants of the ainu or are in their old age and have decided not to shave their faces.
Nowadays it is also not rare or wrong to find men with beards, it is just not popular because Japanese genetics does not provide a beautiful beard for most people today. It is also very common to have a hair removal at leisure which decreases the chances of a Japanese man thinking about growing a beard.
These are just aspects of Japanese culture, there is no prohibition of beard in Japan. Even in Brazil beard is not as popular as in Europe. What is strange is to know that Japan is a cold country, and beards could warm the faces of men. What do you think about that?