The Liberalization of the Haircuts of Japanese High School Baseball Players

Japanese high school baseball team players are lined up and facing each other.

The world’s most popular sport is soccer, but it’s still baseball in Japan as I wrote before. Let me tell you a definite proof. The average annual salary of Japanese professional baseball players is about 280,000 USD, while that of soccer is about 200,000 USD. Mind you: Shohei Ohtani (30 million USD in 2023) is an exceptional exception, by the way. This year the very popular seasonal baseball event has started again: the national high school baseball championship where high school baseball teams compete for the championship after going through the elimination tournaments held in all the 47 prefectures.

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The shaved head was the standard hairstyle of high school baseball players in Japan, and even Shohei Ohtani once did.

The championship tournament has a long history of about 100 years and has been in a time of change recently. Once the shaved head was the standard hairstyle of high school baseball players. Even Shohei Ohtani shaved his head when he was in high school. If you’re interested, you can see him in a shaved head in some YouTube videos. Anyway, it’s changing now, and many high schools have abolished the hairstyle rule.

The advocates of shaved heads insist the hairstyle (no-hairstyle, to be more precise) makes high school kids look clean and tidy. If that is a case, all the other sports players should shave their heads as well. In the first place, what’s the point for baseball players to make themselves look clean and tidy? The claim doesn’t make sense to me. The other common point the advocates always make is a sense of unity by doing the same thing (shaving heads) together. I agree to this point to some degree. When I joined the Japan Self-defense Force, the first thing we had to do was a haircut (GI cut) like a sheep. It was a shocking experience, but it’s true that our camaraderie became stronger.

A zoom-up image of a head in buzz cut

Shaved heads work to make teams stronger or not.

Don’t jump the gun. I didn’t mean to agree to shaved heads. A sense of unity may be built, but it’s not an end goal. The point is if the sense works to make teams stronger or not. If the advocates of shaved heads still believe their own claim and keep insisting on it, I want them to come here and advise our local baseball team, Hokkaido Fighters, to shave their heads. Our Fighters are in the bottom of the league now, though it was strong when Shohei Ohtani played here. The same as in MLB, there’s no professional baseball team with such a hairstyle code even in Japan. This is more than enough proof.

In America, in addition to the US, there are many other countries strong in baseball, like Dominica, Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico. Speaking of Mexico, I will go to Monterrey, Mexico next month for the first time because our Mexican dealer starts selling our furniture. Do you know why I started this article from the topic of baseball? It’s because Monterrey is the capital city of baseball in Mexico. I hope one day our furniture will be used somewhere (VIP rooms, hopefully) in Estadio Monterrey, the largest baseball stadium in Mexico.


Photo credit: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/11/01/national/social-issues/baseball-hair-cuts/


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Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.


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