Among the earliest innovations after the Restoration to which the Japanese people took kindly was the clipping of their queues. In the old days men had little queues on the top of their heads. For this purpose they shaved the crown and gathering the hair around, tied it at the top with a piece of paper string; then, they bent the queue and bringing it down forward over the forehead, fastened it with the ends of the same string so that the queue was tied tightly to the first knot. The end of the queue was cut straight. Fashion often changed in the making of the queue, though its general form remained unaltered. The bend, for instance, between the two knots might vary in size and shape, and the queue itself in length and thickness, its girth being regulated by the extent of the tonsure at the crown. Or the hair might be full or tight at the sides and the back. The front was usually shaved. In short, there was a wide scope for taste in the dressing of the queue.
These queues were untied and remade every second or third day, and the head was shaved at the same time. Hair-dressing was therefore a troublesome business, especially as one had generally to get assistance for it. Consequently, when the cropping of the hair came into vogue, people eagerly adopted it as it saved them time and expense. At first they cut the hair long, letting it half hide the ears and come down to the neck behind; but it became shorter by degrees until now the fashion is to crop it to about a quarter of an inch, presenting a head which is appropriately known as “chestnut-bur.”