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Why are beards uncommon in Japan?


Beards have become a popular trend in many parts of the world, but in Japan, they are still uncommon. There are various reasons why beards are not a common sight in Japan, including cultural, social, and historical factors. In this article, we will explore these reasons in detail.

History of Facial Hair in Japan

The history of facial hair in Japan dates back to the Edo period when samurai warriors flaunted their long mustaches and beards as a symbol of their masculinity and warrior status. However, during the Meiji period, Japan underwent rapid modernization and westernization, and facial hair became associated with backwardness and lack of hygiene. The government encouraged men to shave their faces to adopt a more modern and westernized appearance.

Japanese Snack Box

Cultural Beliefs about Facial Hair

In Japanese culture, a clean-shaven face is considered more professional, respectable, and trustworthy. This belief is deeply ingrained in many aspects of Japanese society, including the workplace, where beards may be viewed as unkempt or unprofessional. Additionally, there is a societal expectation that men should conform to certain beauty standards and grooming habits that do not include facial hair.

Hygiene Standards

In Japan, cleanliness and hygiene are highly valued, and facial hair may be associated with uncleanliness or laziness. Shaving is seen as a way to maintain personal hygiene and cleanliness. Additionally, some people believe that facial hair can trap dirt and bacteria, leading to skin irritation or infections.

Religious Beliefs

Shintoism and Buddhism are the two main religions in Japan. Both religions place an emphasis on purity and cleanliness, which may explain why beards are not popular among religious leaders or practitioners. In Buddhism, monks are required to shave their heads and faces as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly desires.

Influence of Fashion Trends

Fashion trends play a significant role in shaping attitudes towards grooming habits in Japan. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards a more rugged or masculine look that includes facial hair. However, this trend is still relatively new and has not yet gained widespread acceptance.

Media Portrayals

The media plays an influential role in shaping societal attitudes towards various issues, including fashion and grooming habits. In Japan, most media portrayals of men depict them with clean-shaven faces. This can reinforce the societal expectation that men should not have facial hair.

Professional Expectations

In many professions in Japan, such as government officials or teachers, strict dress codes are enforced that often include requirements for clean-shaven faces. This can create pressure on men to conform to societal expectations even if they personally prefer having facial hair.

Personal Preferences

Some men in Japan may choose not to grow beards simply because they prefer a clean-shaven look or find it easier to maintain their appearance without facial hair. Personal preferences can play a significant role in grooming habits.

Social Stigma

Despite the growing trend towards accepting beards in some parts of Japanese society, there is still a social stigma attached to having facial hair. Men with beards may be viewed as rebellious or non-conformist by some members of society.

Masculinity Stereotypes

In Japanese culture, there is a stereotype that associates masculinity with physical strength and toughness. Some people may view beards as a way for men to assert their masculinity or toughness. However, this stereotype is changing as more people recognize that masculinity can manifest itself in various ways.

The Future of Facial Hair in Japan

As attitudes towards grooming habits continue to evolve in Japan, it is possible that we will see more men embracing facial hair as a way to express themselves or assert their individuality. However, it is also possible that the societal expectations for clean-shaven faces will remain dominant for years to come.


In conclusion, there are various reasons why beards are uncommon in Japan. These reasons include cultural beliefs about grooming habits and hygiene standards, historical factors related to westernization and modernization during the Meiji period, influence of fashion trends and media portrayals on societal attitudes towards grooming habits. Personal preferences also play an important role in grooming habits among individuals. Ultimately, the future of facial hair in Japan remains uncertain as societal attitudes continue to evolve.

Why do Japanese men not grow beards?

Facial hair is viewed differently in Japanese culture compared to Western culture. While beards are commonly associated with masculinity in the West, in Japan they are often seen as unattractive or unclean. Thus, most men in Japan do not grow beards, and those who do typically keep them neatly trimmed.

Why do Japanese have less facial hair?

The reason why Japanese people typically do not have beards is linked to historical symbolism, where beards were seen as a sign of laziness. Employers also expect their employees to have a clean-shaven appearance.

What ethnicity has the hardest time growing beards?

The growth of a man’s beard can be affected by his ethnicity. Typically, Caucasian and African American men can grow thicker beards compared to Asian men who may find it difficult to develop a full beard. This was reported on November 21, 2019.

Why do Japanese shave their face?

In Japan, it is a common practice for women to shave their faces as a way to achieve smooth, hairless, and flawless skin. While this may seem unconventional, it is now understood as a beneficial ancient practice that can be revitalized.

Are beards socially acceptable in Japan?

In the Japanese professional environment, beards are often viewed as unprofessional due to their rarity among Japanese individuals. They can be perceived as unkempt and many companies in Japan prioritize projecting a pristine image to their customers.

Why can’t Asians grow full beards?

The reason why most Asian men don’t grow beards is due to their genetic makeup, specifically the androgen receptors. These receptors are responsible for stimulating hair follicles with testosterone, but in Asian men, they are often low, resulting in little to no beard growth.

The Impact of Globalization

With the advent of globalization, many cultural practices and norms have been influenced by foreign cultures. The popularity of beards in western countries has started to spread to other parts of the world, including Japan. However, it remains to be seen whether this trend will take hold in Japan or if it will remain a niche trend among a small group of men.

The Role of Gender Expectations

In Japan, there are often gendered expectations regarding grooming habits. While it is generally acceptable for women to have hair on their legs or underarms, men are expected to have clean-shaven faces. This reinforces the societal belief that facial hair is not a desirable trait for men and can create pressure on men to conform to these expectations.

The Influence of Pop Culture Icons

Pop culture icons, such as actors and musicians, can have a significant impact on grooming trends among young people. In Japan, many popular male celebrities have clean-shaven faces, which may contribute to the societal expectation that men should not have facial hair. However, there are also some popular celebrities who sport beards, which could help shift attitudes towards facial hair in the future.

The Role of Age and Generation Gaps

Attitudes towards grooming habits can vary greatly among different age groups in Japan. Older generations may hold more traditional views that favor clean-shaven faces, while younger generations may be more open to experimenting with different styles of facial hair. These generational gaps can create tension and disagreement over what is considered socially acceptable when it comes to grooming habits.

The Importance of Self-Expression

Ultimately, the decision to grow or not grow a beard should be a personal choice based on individual preferences and self-expression. While societal expectations and cultural beliefs play a role in shaping attitudes towards grooming habits, it is important for individuals to feel comfortable expressing themselves in a way that makes them feel confident and authentic.

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