While much headway has been made in Japan regarding women's rights, the country still has a few prevailing bans that are proving more stubborn to eliminate.
1. Climbing to the top of Mount Omine
Reason: Women are a "distraction"
Mount Omine in Nara Prefecture (officially known as Mt. Sanjo) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You might be surprised to learn that UNESCO doesn't take gender into consideration when awarding World Heritage status, but heritage sites that ban the entire female race can be found in Burma, India, and Greece as well as Japan.
The mountain won World Heritage status as part of a larger category of Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. The popular Kumano Pilgrimage route goes through the sacred area but makes allowances for women hiking through this part. They are still prohibited, however, from climbing up to Ominesanji Temple at the top of the mountain.
2. Entering the sumo ring, taking part in sumo competitions and rituals
Reason: women violate the purity of the sumo ring
The Sumo Association claims that since women have traditionally not been allowed to take part in sumo activities through the centuries, that it would be a dishonor to all of their ancestors to change it. In addition, despite the existence of women's sumo, called onnazumo, since the early 18th century, the female version of the sport is forbidden from having professional status.
3. Semi-Ban: Staying in most "capsule hotels"
Reason: Capsule hotels are targeted towards businessmen
There are, nowadays, some capsule hotels that allow women. But if a woman just randomly rocks up to a capsule hotel, she's going to be turned away 99 times out of 100.
4. Semi-Ban: Becoming sushi chefs
Reason: Women's hands are too warm, so could ruin the flavor of the sushi.
This subject has been discussed in much detail in several English media outlets, and it was declared an urban myth by National Public Radio in the U.S.. But the fact remains that women are rarely seen preparing sushi at restaurants in Japan as it is still considered to be the domain of male chefs.
Will these restrictions be lifted anytime soon? Only the Japanese people can decide.
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