A 16th-Century Japanese Samurai Reacts to the Man Bun Trend

Chonmage is a privilege, not a right.

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*A version of this article appears in the 1619 Tokyoite. It was written by an embedded Samurai sent to the 21st century to learn dank memes.

I’ve noticed an alarming trend happening with the many able-bodied men around here. Many of these men are sporting “chonmage” or as they are more colloquially known: samurai topknots. People are apparently calling them “man buns.” Lord Naganori would be rolling in his grave if he knew about this travesty. He’d commit seppuku again just to spite these fucc-sans!

This phenomenon can be traced to the early adopter, Lord David Beckham. In an attempt to conquer the American landscape, he grew out his hair into a ponytail. Also, the false daimyo from the Brady Clan grew out his hair in response to Giants from the East. He trained, but he could not defeat them.


I began to take notice of all of the other men wearing top knots. They did not look like they studied Kendo. 


Performance artists started to take note and adopt our hairstyle for their own. Lord Jared Leto and Lord Chris Hemsworth both grew out their chonmage. They seem like brave warriors, although, they seem tormented. The geisha will line up for them, but they are troubled. One wants respect from other bards and the other is seeking distinction from constantly being mistaken for Lord Pine or Lord Evans.

But it also seems as if simple peasants have taken our royal hairstyle and made it their own. Legions of men, who would amount to nothing more than poor fishermen pedaling bootleg maguro on the streets of Tokyo are walking around with these top-shelf top knots.

My first encounter with one of these strug-urai was when I popped into a ramen bar. I saw fam with a top knot behind the bar so I tried to hit him up with the Ancient Kyoto Dap. Nothing. He just stared at me like: “Ninja, please.”

Judging from the length of his hair—which looked like it went down to his shoulders when untied, he seemed to be in the game for at least five years. That is noble service for the Shogun! When I pointed it out and asked which dojo he trained under he told me, “I don’t really know, I just haven’t cut it.”

I was floored. Since I was a child, all I grew up wanting to be was Samurai. I had posters of the great ronin on my room. I dragged my Mom to the mall every weekend just to stare at the jo-dan IIIs. It was the sandal that would make us fight better. I trained every day just do I could one day wear the great top knot, the status symbol of actual Lords. And now, this man was telling me he just nonchalantly grew it and forgot about it the same way you’d forget that you had a backlog of Seinfeld reruns on your DVR.

I began to take notice of all of the other men wearing top knots. They did not look like they studied Kendo. One man told me he wore his hair like this because he tried to smoke nag champa incense once. Another man I met said he wore it like this because it made him a better soccer player. He did not know the way of the sword. And another man, I met had not a man bun, but more a bundle of hair resembling a tiny chode. He definitely was not samurai. I did however, meet a man with a top knot who went by the name Lord DiCaprio, and he definitely was samurai.

Nevertheless, the veil has been pulled back. My existence on this planet seems to be a farce. I would rather die quickly by the hand of my own sword, than excruciatingly slow via the mockery of Bushido. Please donate my top knot to a poor man on Propecia who cannot grow his own man bun.

Sayonara, cruel world.

Nickolaus Sugai is a writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @nicksugai.  


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