Gusokuya edition
Yellow publisher
Yellow carver
Yosha Bunko

Tokyo nichinichi shinbun
No. 813
   1874-10-3? (1874-10x)
Boy raised as girl

Story translation (partial)

In village of Higashikami, in the district of Kagawa, in Sanshu, otherwise known as Sanuki province, now Kagawa prefecture, a boy was given a girl's name and raised as a girl. At 18, Ooto became a maidservant in the home of a Takamatsu domain family, and one night she fornicated with the daughter of the house. She did the same with some girls and women in the neighborhood. In Yasumoto village of the Miki district of the same province there was a man, a lacquerer, called Hayazo, who fell in love with Ooto. He continued to love her, even when he was appraised of the fact that she was not a girl, and he married her, knowing she was a man. Some three years passed and Ooto's transfer to his register was investigated. She cut her long hair and became a man with a cropped head.

Sumida, Westbank
Onkokudo Ryugin

[Translated by William Wetherall]


As a woman, Ooto would not have been allowed to crop her hair. As a man, he had that choice.

Cropped hair

cropped head reflects 散髪天頭 (zangiri atama) -- literally "cropped-hair head" -- now more commonly written 散切り頭. This style became fashionable after 1871, when men who had been obliged by their status to wear topknots and swords were free to cut their hair and not wear swords, thus ending such distinctions in dress.

Men generally took to cropping their hair short, without shaving or tying it. As this style spread, so did the expression: "If you tap a cropped head, you can hear civilization and enlightenment" (散切り頭を叩いてみれば、文明開化の音がする zangiri atama o tataite mireba, bunmei kaika no oto ga suru). Kabuki accommodated the age with a new genre of plays called "zangiri mono" (cropped hair pieces).

In 1872, Tokyo prefecture issued an ordinance forbidding women to cut their hair. In 1873, Meiji Tenno cut his hair, and men in government service quickly followed.

The cropped-head style is still alive and well in the 21st century. If you have long hair, you can walk into any salon or barbershop in Japan, ask for a zangiri, and walk out looking like your favorite manga or anime chracter.

See note on yaro heads in TNS-876 Misterious incidents for an example of the "Meiji transformation" to cropped hair.