New school rules
I didn’t join the theatre club in my third year. The teacher who supervised the theatre club was disappointed, but the conflict with Izumi and the despondency after the unsuccessful play previous year did not encourage me. I wanted to relax for the rest of my final year in junior high school before another intense three years started in high school. I joined the chorus club, which was great as we only had to sing a couple of songs at the cultural festival.
Izumi was friendly to me again, perhaps partly because I was no obstacle to her in the theatre club. Also, I had become aware that Izumi’s wit and brilliance were not given exclusively to me as the sign of her friendship, but I was to admire her for those dispositions.
Izumi, Kei, and I were full of ideas again, and after successfully changing the girls’ rules the previous year, we were determined to go after the school rules.
1) Boys’ hair
The school rule stated all boys had to shave their heads in the length that did not show when caught between the index and middle fingers. We wanted to abolish this rule because it was the legacy from the war period when children’s heads were infested with lice. Also, we didn’t think it was democratic to impose a one-hairstyle rule.
2) Girls’ hair
The rule stated girls had to tie their hair longer than shoulders with black/brown/navy rubber bands. We didn’t think any of this necessary.
3) Gym uniform
The gym uniform was made of cheap, crude oil-based fabric that burnt by friction. It had the numbers in front that indicated the grade and the individual student number. I was in the third-grade, and the number was 14, so the uniform number said 0314. We questioned, who else got numbered? – prisoners and livestock.
In summer, boys wore short pants, but girls wore “Buruma.” The word originated from “bloomers,” but they were not as cute as the victorian underwear (research told me they were worn as undergarments in 19th century America.) They looked like a pair of a nylon bikini bottom. They fit tightly around the rear part and exposed the full legs. While they were strict about the length of the school uniform skirt, teachers were adamant about our exercising in Buruma.
We wanted a full replacement of gym uniform with better quality, free of the number, and half shorts for both boys and girls.
4) Schoolbag and shoes
The design of the schoolbag and shoes were decades old and were of poor quality. We wanted them to be replaced with better quality ones.
The proposal was submitted to the school, and we had a school meeting in the stadium. We read out the list of changes, and we heard opinions from parents. My mother was one of them. She was very enthusiastic about it and told the audience that she was 100% behind it.
The new rules passed by unanimity, and by the end of summer, boys were growing their hair and girls were enjoying colorful hair bands. The new gym clothes, school bag, and shoes had to wait until the new school year, so we were unable to wear them while we were at junior high school. But it didn’t matter because the change was made and we were proud of it.
When I became an adult, I came to know men’s perversion toward Buruma, as they were associated with underaged girls. When I passed by my old school years after I graduated, I was glad the students were all wearing half-shorts, and from afar, their gender was not distinguishable.