Since ancient times, hairstyles in Japan have reflected the wearer's age and social status. In the Tokugawa era, samurai often wore topknots. But as part of the Meiji era's efforts toward Westernization, the government encouraged men to cut off their topknots in an effort to do away with old dress customs related to status. Carrying swords was also outlawed, and the samurai class was abolished. Today, generally only sumo wrestlers wear a topknot. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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