Japan’s brown haired plague

Japan Brown Hair

Brown Haired Japanese GirlWhen you think of Japanese hair color, I’m sure that black is the first color that comes to mind. Sure, most people in Japan have black hair unless they dye it. However, there are those with natural colors other than black. The Japan Times has exposed a growing form of discrimination in Japan for those with natural brown hair.

Now I have never changed the color of my hair, and lack the knowledge to know what needs to be done to lighten your hair from black to brown. I suspect the whole brown hair hate stems from the younger generation dyeing their hair lighter in order to stand out and be different. Japan traditionally is a very homogeneous culture that frowns upon that kind of standing out.

Brown Haired Japanese GuyHowever, this idea of wanting to stand out negatively affects those that have no choice but to stand out. The article points out that in order to not attract attention, natural brown haired people have to spend money and time to keep dyeing new growth every week or two. The author then noticed something that went on in staff meetings she attended at a school. She wries,

Later I began to notice during junior high school staff meetings that teachers regularly mention chappatsu (brown hair), when they talk about students’ problematic or delinquent behavior.

So even though you may already know about the younger generation’s desires to stand out, there is also a silent, conformist movement plaguing some in Japan. Personally, I like to see Japanese with brown hair. But I’m used to seeing different color hair. What do you think about this issue?

Read more at the Japan Times.

What do you think?

Written by xorsyst

Comments are closed.


  1. What’s that famous Japanese saying about comforming? “The nail that stands up gets hammered down”? Stories like this always remind me of that. =(

    I too like the look of brown hair on Japanese. the chappatsu somehow makes them look more exotic.

  2. I personally think the hair colors look beautiful and I can’t really understand why a Japanese person would want to get rid of it. Japan should really just stop with the homogenious bull and accept that there are different types of people in their country. Foreigners included.

  3. I think that people always want what they don’t have. If they’re short: they want to be tall. If they have white skin:they get tan. This isn’t as bad as Japanese bleaching their hair–that’s a little freaky.

  4. Personally, Japanese people look better with black hair. Other colors of hair don’t suit them. I am not Japanese by the way.

    By the way, the Japanese people on this article don’t seem to have natural brown hair.

  5. @Tom: I definitely agree with that.

    @Vera: A lot of the people with natural brown hair may really look black with certain lighting. So rather than try to hunt down a natural brown haired person (which seems next to impossible), i went with showing the styles that traditionally frowned upon and started the whole debate.

  6. When I worked on the JET program a 2nd year junior high student in one of my schools had natural brown hair and the teachers would forcibly dye her hair black in the nurses office.

    They would take 2 or 3 teachers and 1-2 to hold her arms behind her back and 1 to rub the dye in her head… One of the more disturbing things that I saw and can’t imagine the outrage that would occur if someone ever tries to do this to my daughter.

    The reason given to me was that, even though her color was natural it could incite others to dye their hair. Likewise I shave my head and was told when I first started that I would have to grow my hair out or be fired. I told them to fire me and they backed off, but this girl never had a chance to tell them no.

  7. I am a Japanese with dark brown hair, my son he has very light brown hair, with bits of red in it… so I guess he’s even MORE weird because of the red? o__O

  8. To turn black hair brown, you can use a blonde, but not a true blond, you want a blond with more brown to it, it’s possible but very complicated to do, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself. Seek a professional, as if you get the wrong shade of blonde you will go red… haha!

  9. @xorsyst, I had been meaning to come back here, and read through all the comments, as this is a big use, it really is. As a Japanese, I want to say I really appreciate your article.. After reading all the comments, I had to say one thing.

    You are MOST correct… in actuality about 80% of Japanese actually have brown hair… just it’s VERY dark… (and you only tend to see it at the ends of the hair where light is more refracted) if they were to dye their hair black, in a few weeks you would see roots. When I was in High School, people used to argue with me about my hair and eye colour.

    “You have black hair and black eyes” they would say.

    1. ) Black eyes are impossible, genetically impossible, as a medical professional that works with genetics, I can say that with confidence, that no one on EARTH has black eyes. (Unless they get sucker punched or play hockey.. haha)

    2.) My hair, and most of Japanese hair is dark brown, and I dyed it just to shut them up and when they saw that I had roots showing after a few weeks, they left me alone.

    3.) The reason why most Japanese have brown hair is because Japanese people are a race of people made up to two entirely different race backgrounds.. We have two ancestral blood-lines. One is Mongolian in origin, the other is what we call Ainu, they were the original inhabitants of Japan, they had white skin, light brown hair, round eyes, and were hairy. That is why some Japanese appear to be almost white skinned, that’s why some of us (like me) have big eyes (some have had surgery, yes, but not all so it’s not wise to assume it), even some Japanese have hair on their arms and hairy legs. But our culture is so anti-body hair, a lot of people even men, seek means to be rid of it.. haha.

    My own boyfriend has a lot of Ainu heritage, he has very large eyes, similar to that of a Korean in the fact that they are wide, and his skin is very, very light, he even has freckles, which I find to be very cute. ^__^ Infact he’s quite unique looking, he’s absolutely stunning in his uniqueness… I don’t say that just because I’m his girlfriend either. ^__^

  10. I’m from Russian Far East, and I’am mix of 2 small nations: tuvinian and buryat. My mom told me that her ancestors , before Mongolian invasions, were light skinned tall, with red hair and green eyes. Thats why some tuvinuian couples still have babies with blue eyes and completely white features, eye color normally changes to light brown. My dad is buryat but he has heisel eye-color. So my skin is very light, brown eyes with green underlayer (I can see it in mirror if direct sunray hits iris of my eyes), my hair starts growing black and ends with red or blond color by roots, especially in my private area :) so I believe that huge areas in Northen Asia were populated by white race, then Mongolian and Chinese messed everything up..
    I’m actually glad that Russians took over our lands:) Russian and local nations get really cute and smart mix kids :) Sort of completely new race is being formed there :)

  11. Huh. Imagine that. I believe what you wrote in this article, and I’m not attempting to discredit you in any way…..yet I also read that sometimes social pressure exists in Japan *to* dye your hair. I read that going brunette is a sign of trendiness and genki-ness–the latter of which is a particularly positive trait– and that keeping the black hair is a sign of stodginess or something.

    My bet is that both viewpoints are true, depending on the situation….

  12. Hope people come back to read: In Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM) the darkness of hair and eye color is sign of the strength of their Kidney Jing constitution with the lightening of hair and eye color as a sign of weakening of this meridian (Water element in Five Element cycle). That’s why you see hair on people becoming gray as they age; this meridian is losing congenitally/genetically passed strength. Strength is as follows in order of strongest to weakest:
    HAIR: Black, dark brown, brown, blond, red, albino/white.
    EYES: Black, dark brown, brown, blue, green, yellow, red/albino.
    You can gain strength and “work your way back up” (see a TCM doctor or qi-gong or taichi master). I’ve heard plenty of people state that during some time in their life their eye color changed which seems like some kind of freak impossibility without this base of knowledge. We’re like cultivated species of plant and domesticated animals in many respects and need only to kow how to build strength to make stronger, smarter, and longer-lived people. This thinking needs to spread like wild fire because it’s at once so simple yet so powerful and alleviates so much suffering, stress, and makes the perceptual, emotional, and intellectual experience of life so much richer and fulfilling…it should be the right of all humans to have this type of health care. I’ll get off my pulpit now. Good luck~ =)

  13. @ How it Works: That sounds racist. It’s like they’re saying Chinese is a race full of strength because of their black eyes and black hair. And that everybody that’s different from them are weak because they have other colored hair and other colored eyes such as Caucasians.

    They’re using “medicine” to discriminate other races. What is this, the Holocaust?

  14. I think that is wayy unfair! They can’t help it if their hair is Brown, I have brown hair, and I wish it was darker, but that’s because all my friends have dark hair. People in Japan shouldn’t be ashamed or frowned apon because of thier hair color, they should show it off, and be proud!

  15. I think thats absurd, I have black hair (im not Japanese though), but I think having different coloured hair adds variety to life. If we were all the same life would be boring, a little bit of variety adds to the mix and makes us different.

    Its quite amusing because people across the world lighten their hair to try and make it brown, or even blonde, if your hair is naturally light then you should show off :-D

  16. Wow…. hating because of hair color? People are getting crazy……. i really dont care what color their hairs are, in fact, i like people with different hair colors… :]

  17. So you think that people from japan are a plague i say you a fool I happen to have brown hair and be from Kyoto I love the fact I look different, but even if I didn’t who the he’ll are you to say it’s a plague fucking twat

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