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Should I shave my beard in Japan?


When traveling to Japan, one may wonder if they should shave their beard or not. This article will explore the cultural significance of facial hair in Japan and provide information to help individuals make an informed decision.

The History of Facial Hair in Japan

Facial hair has a long history in Japan, dating back to the samurai era. Samurai warriors often wore beards as a symbol of masculinity and power. However, during the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, the government implemented westernization efforts that included shaving facial hair. This trend continued through World War II and into modern times.

Japanese Snack Box

Modern Attitudes Towards Facial Hair

In modern Japan, attitudes towards facial hair have relaxed somewhat. While it is still not as common to see men with beards or mustaches compared to western countries, it is becoming more accepted. However, certain professions, such as teachers or government workers, may still require a clean-shaven appearance.

Cultural Significance of Facial Hair in Japan

In Japan, there is a cultural association between facial hair and criminal activity. This stems from the Edo period where criminals were often depicted with beards in ukiyo-e prints. Additionally, yakuza members often wear full beards or mustaches as a sign of their affiliation with organized crime. While this association may not apply to foreigners, it is important to be aware of this cultural context.

Personal Preferences

Ultimately, whether or not to shave one’s beard in Japan is a personal decision. It depends on individual preferences and comfort levels. Some individuals may feel more comfortable conforming to societal norms, while others may wish to express their individuality through their appearance.

Practical Considerations

There are also practical considerations when deciding whether or not to shave one’s beard in Japan. For example, some public baths or onsens may require patrons to be clean-shaven due to hygiene concerns. Additionally, wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic may be more difficult with a beard.

Cultural Sensitivity

Being culturally sensitive is important when traveling to foreign countries. While having a beard may be acceptable in one’s home country, it may be seen as disrespectful or inappropriate in certain situations in Japan. It is important to research and understand local customs and norms before making a decision about facial hair.

Grooming Options

For those who wish to maintain some form of facial hair while in Japan, there are grooming options available. Trimming one’s beard or mustache neatly can help it appear more polished and professional. Additionally, using beard oil or balm can help keep facial hair moisturized and healthy-looking.

Professional Considerations

For individuals traveling to Japan for business purposes, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and shave one’s beard. While attitudes towards facial hair are changing in Japan, certain professions and industries still prioritize a clean-shaven appearance.

Personal Expression

At the end of the day, personal expression should be respected and valued. If having a beard is an important part of one’s identity or self-expression, they should feel empowered to maintain it while in Japan. However, it is important to balance personal expression with cultural sensitivity and practical considerations.

Tips for Maintaining Facial Hair in Japan

If an individual decides to keep their beard while in Japan, there are some tips for maintaining it while respecting local customs. Keeping the beard well-groomed and trimmed can help it appear more polished and professional. Additionally, being aware of cultural contexts and adjusting behavior accordingly can help avoid offending locals.


In conclusion, whether or not to shave one’s beard in Japan depends on personal preferences and practical considerations. While attitudes towards facial hair are changing in Japan, it is important to be aware of cultural contexts and adjust behavior accordingly. Ultimately, personal expression should be respected while being mindful of local customs and norms.

Is it OK to have a beard in Japan?

In the Japanese workplace, it is considered unprofessional to have a beard. This may be because facial hair is not as prevalent in Japan and can be viewed as unkempt. Many Japanese companies strive to present a polished image to their clientele.

Do men shave in Japan?

In Japan, it is common for people to shave their face, arms, legs, and pubic areas. In fact, having hair in the pubic area is often seen as attractive. Over time, Western influence has led to more acceptance of this practice in Japan.

Do Japanese high schoolers shave?

The tradition in Japan is to have your facial hair shaved at the barber, even for young boys. It is uncommon to see a high school student with a mustache or beard, as they usually learn how to shave in junior high school.

Which country has best beard style?

Out of all countries, Germany has the highest number of clubs associated with the World Beard and Moustache Championships.

Do Japanese shave their face?

It may come as a shock, but a significant number of women in Japan shave their facial hair. While not all Japanese women follow this practice, it is more prevalent in their skincare routine compared to western cultures.

Is long hair on men acceptable in Japan?

Japanese men have a variety of options when it comes to hairstyles, including very short, semi-short, and long haircuts. While it’s not as common, there are also some men in Japan who choose to shave their heads completely.

It is also important to note that facial hair trends may vary depending on the region in Japan. For example, in Tokyo, it may be more common to see clean-shaven men, while in Hokkaido, a more rugged appearance with facial hair may be more accepted. Therefore, it is helpful to research the specific area one will be visiting and adjust grooming habits accordingly.

Another consideration for individuals who wish to maintain facial hair in Japan is the type of beard or mustache they have. Some styles, such as a full beard or handlebar mustache, may draw more attention or be associated with certain stereotypes. It may be helpful to choose a style that is less extreme or more common in Japan to avoid unwanted attention.

For those who are unsure about whether to keep or shave their facial hair in Japan, seeking advice from locals or expats who have lived in Japan for a while can be beneficial. They may offer insights into local customs and norms that can help individuals make an informed decision.

Overall, maintaining cultural sensitivity while expressing oneself through personal appearance is a delicate balance. By being respectful of local customs and adapting grooming habits accordingly, individuals can enjoy their time in Japan while staying true to themselves.

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