Takekurabe, translated as Child’s Play, is a story indited by Higuchi Ichiyo, an important Japanese woman writer during the Meiji period. The story is about a group of children growing up in Ry?senji, an area behind the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara, where the prostitution is legal. As the story revolving around the two rival gangs of children and their conflicts, they encountered a fight that shifts their relationship and mark the beginning of their growth. Being the only female protagonist, Midori’s growing portrays stereotype and expectation of a courtesan while demonstrating the loss of innocence in exchange for maturity.
Midori’s hair denotes her beauty and also represent an important feature of a courtesan. When Midori was introduced, her hair was described as its “would reach her feet” (Ichiyo 1895, 259). In Japan, long hair was visually perceived as a symbol of femininity and also a representation of sex appeal. Women receive negative notations if they take irrational actions toward their hairs, such as cutting them short. In the story, others often compliment Midori as “a beauty” because of her hair (263).
As the story proceeds, Midori’s new hairdo notified a sign of growing. It was noticed by Donkey, a side character, that Midori “had her hair all done up…in the glorious shimada style” and became “prettier than her sister” (283). Shimada style is achieved by having the hair amass together at the crown of the head and a small part of the bun is sectioned to point either outwards or upwards; this style is circumscribed to the courtesans. As Midori embraced her new hairdo with resistance, as she says: “I hate it” when Sh?ta asked about her hairdo, she had no choice but to become a prostitute like her sister ?maki (284). Moreover, although very subtle, the reading has given her hair another meaning, liberation; Midori could not do anything to her own hair as it was always handled by either her mom or ?maki’s. Her hair is a representation of her freedom and identity, which has been restricted as she transitions from childhood to adulthood.