Zanpatsu Datto Rei (散髪脱刀令)

Zanpatsu Datto Rei is an edict of the Grand Council of State submitted by Meiji government in September 23, 1871. In general, it is called "Dampatsu Rei" for cutting topknots.

Although the tendency of not knotting the top-hair was already common since Western-styled military system was adapted in the last days of Tokugawa Shogunate, the edict formally given a freedom of forming their own hairstyle and noble and warrior class to not yield their swords at all time, stating 'one shall chose to have hair cut or to leave one's sword' (a prohibition was issued regarding to common people to wear a sword in the previous year, February 16, 1871). It stated that 'government officials should still be required to yield sword in a case of formal attire' as an exception to the rules.

It is a common misconception that Zanpatsu Datto Rei by all mean ordered the forcible hair cutting by forbidding topknots, but rather, it conveyed a freedom of hairstyle. People like Kenkichi SAKAKIBARA kept his topknot even after the edict was officially announced, but was not punished in any ways.

In March 1873, The Meiji Emperor had his haircut and then many, mainly government officials, also followed and had haircut.

For its modest sentiment, the purpose of Zanpatsu Datto Rei is now recognized as the very first attempt to prohibit wearing a sword as a part of policy to take away the rights of warrior class, of whom could cause the uprising if the policy simply forced seizure of their swords, which were believed to be 'the soul of samurai.'

In May 11, 1872, Tokyo Prefecture issued 'Jyoshi Danpatsu Kinshi Rei' (The order of prohibition of haircutting for women). This policy was created as women misunderstood the true meaning of Zanpatsu Datto Rei and started to have their hair short.

In Fukui Prefecture, one group which opposed Zanpatsu Datto Rei caused uprising, resulting the death penalty of six individuals.

[Original Japanese]