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Top Japanese high school baseball club turns heads with end to mandatory buzz cuts

Saibi High School's baseball club players sing their school anthem after winning a game in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, on Aug. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Yuichi Nakagawa)

MATSUYAMA -- The decision by a top-flight high school baseball team in this western Japan city to abolish the compulsory buzzcuts for players typical of the clubs across Japan is turning heads.

    Saibi High School's baseball club in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, judged that the era of the mandatory buzzcut was quickly coming to an end in the intermural high school baseball world, as Japanese society recognizes greater diversity. Most of Saibi's players now sport various short hairstyles, and hope that they won't be accused of becoming "weaker" as a team for abandoning the traditional buzz.

    The annual National High School Baseball Championship -- popularly known as Koshien after the Hanshin Tigers' home stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, where the tournament is played -- has been called off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    However, regular Koshien contender Saibi has advanced smoothly to the quarterfinals in a substitute tournament in Ehime Prefecture after winning its third-round game on Aug. 5.

    Team captain Hibiki Yamada said, "We think Saibi must always play at the top of the rankings. We want to win the tournament to prove that getting a buzzcut or not makes no difference."

    (Japanese original by Yuichi Nakagawa, Matsuyama Bureau)

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