Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why did she shave off her hair?

Have you heard of AKB48, the Japanese girl group? I would say that the group has been very popular in Japan for more than five years. Although I'm not interested at all in the group and their songs, I think that it is worth paying attention to this group as a unique business model. If you are interested in it, please click here.

I've heard that there are rules that all the group members are required to obey. I see these rules as a sort of contract for joining AKB48. I don't really know these rules, but know the most popular one: dating is banned. To be honest, I've been feeling that the dating ban rule is strange and ridiculous, although I'm aware of the fact that there are still many men who don't want female idol to have boyfriends. Anyway, aside from whether or not the rule is positive, it's undoubtedly what the members have to comply with.

The other day, it was reported in a magazine that a 20-year-old member had spent a night with her boyfriend. The magazine also printed pictures of her leaving his house. It means that she broke the dating ban. Immediately after the revelation of the scandal, she shaved off her long hair without telling the other members and her management agency. In a YouTube video on the AKB48 official channel, she displayed her buzz-cut head, made a tearful apology, and asked for forgiveness. Her buzz-cut stunned not only the other members but also many ordinary people. The video has become very controversial. Surprisingly, NHK, the Japanese public broadcasting service, and major foreign media played up the video mainly because of her bizarre reaction (Click here).

In Japan, men sometimes shave off their hair to show their deep reflection on what they have done. For example, when top male athletes weren't able to achieve their goals, they do that, saying that they will make more effort. This custom originates from Buddhism ( I don't know much about it). In my understanding, shaving off one's hair is a way of expressing self-criticism, but not of asking for forgiveness. Because of this (not because a girl shaved off her hair), when I saw the video in the news, I felt that there was something wrong. I hope that she didn't expect tears and buzz-cut head to be helpful to ask for forgiveness.

Japanese society is always seen as a male dominated society. In my opinion, to improve it, both men and women have to change their way of thinking. From this viewpoint, that video has made me think a lot.