Nikko was a very smart girl for her age, but, being a 14 year-old girl is tough no matter what. Nikko lives with her mother Jordan in a large estate near Silicon Valley and goes to a private school for girls that many of daughters of the well-off families attend. Her mom was a busy corporate officer, native to Japan. She came to the states to make sure she was able to provide for her young daughter after Nikko’s father died when she was barely 3 years old. Jordan’s position in her professional life provided for wealth that would see that the family would be well off for many generations to come. While Jordan loved being able to give her daughter everything in life she wanted, she missed the companionship that a husband could give to her.
Jordan saw David at a corporate event and was drawn to him immediately. It didn’t matter that he was working as a temp worker for the company’s convention show she just knew she wanted to know him more. They began dating, and surprisingly due to Jordan’s conservative upbringing, were married after only 12 months. Nikko, who was just 11 at the time, had a hard time adjusting to having a man live in the family mansion and could not figure out why her mom, a well-educated woman, would bring this man into their lives. David is not much of a man, barely able to hold a job for more than a few months at a time, and when he does have some income most of it is spent on gambling, bars, women. Jordan didn’t care about his career, she liked having him around and told her daughter that she needed to get use to him.
After 16 months of marriage Jordan was getting ready for a 3-week trip to China on the corporate jet for a series of meetings. She would have like to take Nikko and David with her but Nikko was scheduled to go to STEM camp during that time, and David, who had never travelled in his life didn’t have a passport. He told Jordan he would take care of getting Nikko to camp and watching to house while she was gone. Jordan was elated that David wanted to take care of Nikko while she was gone, she still thought that Nikko and him could develop a stronger bond while she was gone.
Nikko and David saw Jordan off at the airport and headed back towards home. It would be 3 days before Nikko had to report for STEM camp with her 2 best friends and rather than spending any time with David she preferred to stay with her friends almost the whole time before having to pack her bags for the bus ride to camp.
During the next 2 weeks Nikko put all her thought and efforts into the camp, she had a wonderful time with her friends, and even managed to meet a couple of Japanese girls who she got along with quite well. The 2 girls were spending the summer camp in the states while their parents were on business. While nearly all of the American girls wore shorts or capris during the camp the 2 girls who were from a very traditional family, only had the uniforms that they wore during the regular school year, which was the basic navy or tan jumper, a white button down shirt and dress shoes. They also both wore their hair in a standard school-girl haircut, a chin length bob with short bangs. To their parents they were there to learn not to have a 14 day vacation. Nikko found their strict conservative life very interesting even though her hair was half-way down here back and was taken care of along with her nails at the best salon in town. Every piece of clothing she had in her bag for the time at camp was from the top of the line shops in town. Even though Nikko always had the best of everything she wondered what it would be like to be raised by a traditional Japanese family and their customs.
Nikko didn’t want the camp to end, not just because of the new friendships she had gained, but more so because her mother was not due home for 4 more days and she would have to spend time with David. Nikko was dropped off at the house by her best friend’s mom, she thought that David would have at least picked here up when the bus got back but he was a no show. As she is dragging her 2 bags up to the door from the driveway Nikko can here music blaring away from her mom’s bedroom. She figures that David is up there passed out and sees no reason to go up there. After a short while Nikko heads toward the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and notices there is a lot of food and empty beer bottles on the counter. Then she sees through the doors along the back of the house that there is a girl laying by the pool wearing one of Nikko’s new bikinis she had bought for sunbathing after camp. Nikko was totally upset now and headed up to ask David who gave this girl the suit. As she headed towards the master bedroom Nikko hears noises coming from inside. David, probably to buzzed to think straight didn’t bother to close the door and Nikko peered in to see David and another girl going at it, not even noticing that someone was at the door. Nikko ran to her room and locked herself in she did not want to call her mom who was in China for 2 more days. She called her friend Hanna who told her she could stay at her house until her mom got back. David was having a dream time with the 2 hot college girls. He found them at a club and convinced them that he was some mega millionaire. Once he got them back to the mansion, they partied with him for several days. He had forgotten about Nikko returning and just worried about getting the girls out before Jordan got back from China. In David’s mind he was going to get away scot free.
The night before her mom was to return from China, Nikko headed back home wondering what was going to happen when she told her mom about David’s indiscretions. When she arrived at her house she is surprised to see several of the top executives from her mother’s company at the house. Her mother was not due to get home for another 12 hours, so she knew they must be there for another reason. Upon entering the house she sees that David is very upset. He calls her over and explains to Nikko that her mother had been killed in an auto accident on her way to the airport. Nikko was beside herself, she had no other real family to seek help from, she only had the one person that she despised to help her through this horrible time.
The next year was a time of change in Nikko life, she went into a deep state of depression. She went from one of the best students in her private school to being placed on academic probation for poor grades. Even though she still received her monthly allowance she was caught shoplifting twice. Both times she was caught taking items that she could have easily paid for. The first time she was released to David and had to pay for the items. She was also banned from the store until she was 18. She felt that they wouldn’t remember her and went back to the same store a month later. The store security team remembered her from before and sends guards to the exit doors. Nikko, unaware that they had spotted her, decided that she could help herself to whatever she wanted. Nikko decided to make herself appear as a regular customer and paid for several items she picked out. When she headed for the exit she noticed a couple employees just outside the door, but figured they were just outside having a smoke break. As she walked thru the door she is stopped by the pair and taken to the security office.
This time was different. The store decided that they would press charges against Nikko, and she would be taken to the police station. David was again called to pick Nikko up at the police station, taking him away from his afternoon by the pool with his girlfriend. He was also not happy when they had to go before the juvenile judge. The judge happened to be of Japanese descent and was known to be very strict on juvenile’s that came from wealthy families. David, hoping to get Nikko out of his way for a while, told the judge that he could not control Nikko and thought the judge would put her in juvenile detention for a while. The judge gave Nikko two options, she could go to the county juvenile home and finish the entire school year there, or she could go to a boarding school that the judge had in mind, and the judge would erase her juvenile record when she graduated. Nikko figured that the boarding school couldn’t be any harder than the exclusive private school she had been attending, plus it would get her away from David for a while. She told the judge that she would go to the boarding school.
The judge was very pleased by Nikko’s decision, she knew this was just the place for her to get a proper Japanese style education. The five-hour ride to the school was almost silent between Nikko and David, they both have had enough of each other. Nikko went all out packing for the trip. Several trips to the shoppes to make sure that her wardrobe was all the latest styles and she would have new clothes and shoes for every occasion. Upon their arrival at the gates to the school they were greeted by one of the school administrators who invited Nikko to come inside the registration office. She told Nikko that all her belongings would be taken care of. This was not entirely true because as soon as Nikko went into the building David was told to take all her bags back with him. The school did not allow any of the girls to have personnel items at the school. They would provide her with anything they felt she needed which of course meant no make-up, jewelry, or all the other thing that mean everything to a high school girl. She went thru the process of signing all the required documents and was then led to a reception area for all the new girls by a student who reminded her of the two girls from the STEM camp she had attended. The girl was dressed in the same blue jumper, and, had the same ear length bob haircut with short bangs. Nikko thought nothing of this as there were probably several girls from traditional families at the school. When she got to the reception room there were 3 girls there with Nikko. The school year was had started 4 weeks earlier, so most of the students were already in their classes. The school administrator came into the room and welcomed all the girls, then started to go over what is expected of the girls.
“The only garments you will wear are the one’s that are provided to you. This will include everything from your undergarments to your shoes. You will wear your hair in one of the approved styles. It is your responsibility to maintain a proper appearance. You will not be told when you need to have your hair cut, but, if at inspection you are found to be out of compliance you will have no say in how it is cut. Do the 4 of you understand?” All the girls, except Nikko shook their heads and told the administrator yes. “Nikko is there a problem?” the administrator asked in a raised voice. Nikko thought long and hard about what was going to happen. She really loved her lifestyle, and, was not sure she wanted to give it up just to get away from David. “Nikko. The judge sent you to me for a reason, so, unless you want to go back to see her and tell her you want to face those charges I suggest you decide right now that you are here to stay.” Nikko thought about everything she will be giving up, but, then thought about the girls from camp and how they seemed to enjoy living a simple traditional life. She then told the administrator that she was committed to going to the school.
The girls were taken into the next building which they were told is the dispensary. This was were they would receive everything that the school felt was necessary. Each girl was given three identical jumpers, and a pair of very plain brown dress shoes. Nikko was shocked when she saw the undergarments they were given, white full cut panties and what looked like a tank top for the top half. This was a far cry from the Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Kline she had always worn. The girls were given a plastic bag with a comb, toothbrush, and a bar of soap. Nikko assumed that she would just use the items in her own bag to shave her legs and wash and condition her hair.
The next stop was the salon, where the girls would get to decide which hairstyle they wanted. When they came to the small shop, they were pointed to a board on the wall just outside the door. This showed the approved haircuts. You couldn’t call them hair styles because none of them seemed to have any style. The haircuts were numbered 1-5. 1 being the longest was the traditional girls haircut with short bangs. 2 was a bowlcut that was shaved bald from the top of the ears down. 3 was a basic buzzcut about ¼” in length. 4 was a bald haircut for students that were starting to enter the religious order. 5 was also a bald head but the girls were told the was a permanent balding for those students who committed to the order. The first 2 girls had their turn in the chair, selecting the number 1 style. The third girl, who already had a short haircut, went for the bowlcut. It was now Nikko’s turn in the chair. She was actually getting excited, thinking about was going to happen. Her hair was half way down her back, and had only been touched by the finest of stylists. Now she was about to get it hacked off by someone who has never been trained, but none of that seemed to bother her. Nikko remembered how much she thought about the girls at STEM camp and decided on the #1 sutch boy haircut. She thought she would be nervous about losing all her beautiful hair, but, she felt just the opposite as the older lady started sawing away right at the hairline at the back of her head. For the first time since her mom had died she felt released from all the stress she had felt. As the cut continued Nikko began smile feeling like she finally was at home. As the older women took the sides of Nikko’s hair up over her ears Nikko was wondering if she wanted more, she asked if it was still possible to get a bowl cut. The older woman was more than happy to oblige and started by creating a line around her head 2 inches above her ears and putting all of it in hair clips. As the hair at the bottom of her head was already trimmed down, the stylist went straight to her edging clipper and flicked them on. Nikko closed her eyes and took in took the new experience in barely holding in her excitement. After making the bottom half of her totally smooth the stylist proceeded to comb down the rest her hair, and decided that she would cut the bowl about an inch and a half above the top of Nikko’s ears. The cut was straight but cut in a somewhat rough fashion. The woman took a round brush and curled the underside of Nikko’s hair under, making the hair seem even shorter all the way around Nikko’s head. As she was turned around to see the finished haircut Nikko’s thoughts were going back to the two very traditional girls from her STEM camp, and how she felt strange feelings whenever she was with them. Nikko was beginning to feel that she too wanted to be a more traditional Japanese girl, and not just a spoiled, rich American teenager. Throughout the rest of the school year she was committed to studying the traditional lifestyle, no longer worried about material possessions, or spending hours every week trying to look more beautiful than any of her friends. When the school was getting ready to have its summer break, Nikko was getting upset because she did not want to go back to her old lifestyle, and, certainly not around David. Nikko asked the headmaster what she could do to stay at the school over the summer. She was told that the only people left on the grounds were the students that were joining the Buddhist order, and the Monks that run the temple. Nikko had grown to love her new life, and, did not want to leave. Nikko told the headmaster that she wanted to join the Buddhists and stay at the temple from now on. The headmaster explained that this commitment cannot be taken lightly, and joining the order was a serious life decision for such a young girl to make. Nikko would be giving up everything that she owned in the world and cut herself off from friends and family for the next 3 years. The headmaster also told Nikko that is common practice for someone entering the order to be recommended by a person who is already a member of the temple. The only other Japanese adult Nikko had known outside the school was the judge that sent her there. Nikko asked the headmaster if she would drive her to see the judge so she could get the recommendation.
Nikko was nervous as she waiting to meet with the judge. She thought if the judge refused to give her recommendation, she would have to spend her summer in the house with David. She also no longer wanted to be surrounded what she no considered her former life. The judge invited her into her office, and, was overjoyed by Nikko’s new attitude. The judge not only agreed to the recommendation, but, pulled it out of Nikko’s folder that the judge held in her desk. The judge told Nikko that she knew when she was sent there that Nikko would find a new life for herself. The judge then took the folder and put it in her shredder, telling Nikko that she had met all the terms of her sentence and all the records of the incident were now erased forever. The judge told Nikko that this meant she was free to do whatever she wanted with the rest of her life. Nikko repeated her intention to join the order, so the judge told her she would give her the name of a lawyer to help Nikko to dispense all her worldly belongings. Nikko told the couldn’t think of anything she could need help with getting rid of then the judge told her since she was 18 now that the trust that held all of her mothers wealth was hers now, and, no longer being controlled by David. The lawyer informed Nikko that she was intitled over 20 million dollars, and, could do with it as she pleased. Nikko thought about her life before and after being sent to the school. She no longer wanted to be a part of her former life, and, told the lawyer to donate the everything to the school.
As Nikko returned to the school, she visited the headmaster, and told her of her decision. After she left the headmaster’s office, Nikko went straight to the school barber. As she sat in the chair the old woman began shearing off all of Nikko’s hair, never asking what style she wanted. The woman knew that all the students still at the school this time of year would have their heads shaved. Nikko sat in the chair thinking about her new life and knew this was what she wanted. As the woman finished removing the last of Nikko’s hair, the woman asked if Nikko was going to make it permanent. Nikko didn’t hesitate to tell the woman of course she did.