【Culture】“Kanzashi” – Japanese Ornamental Hairpin2015.05.15


When you see old Japanese movies, you may notice that an actress in Kimono wear a “Kanzashi.” Originally, it has been used by women wearing Japanese style clothing such as “kimono” and “yukata” (summer cotton kimono). The “Kanzashi” has played an important role for Japanese women to dress their hair when they wear traditional clothes. Modern Japanese women put it when they wear western clothes as usual and various occasions.

The “Kanzashi” are about 2~4 inch bar with various kinds of ornaments. There are wide varieties of materials, shapes, and designs. The materials are lacquer wood, metals, agate, ivory, coral, crystals, etc. It is basically categorized into two big groups. One is used on the front part of the head and the other is used on the back part of the head.

Categories of Kanzashi for Back Part of the head
・”Hirauchi kanzashi “(flat type kanzashi)
・“Tama kanzashi” (stick type with a small ball)

“Tama kanzashi” is the most popular “Kanzashi.” The bigger bead called “Tama” is more likely to be  for young people with any kinds of hair style. “Tsumami kanzashi” known as “flower Kanzashi” is mainly for Maiko (women who perform traditional Japanese dance) as well as girls in the celebration of Shichigosan (The 7,5, and 3 years old festival to celebrate and pray their healthy growth). This looks gorgeous and its size is relatively big, so this kind of Kanzashi is often used on special days.

For the front part of the head, kanzashi are not used to arrange the hair but to decorate the hair as pure accessories. “Tsumami kanzashi” (kanzashi made of silk petals) and ”Bira kanzashi” (fluttering or dangling kanzashi) are also of this type.

There are practical “kanzashi” which look like hair comb and actually can comb your hair. But you just don’t put hair comb on your hair! That is not cool! Usually they are colorful with cute pattern so it looks accessories.

Japanese women take part of historical traditions and use “kanzashi” in their daily fashion like necklace and ring.


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