“Kanzashi” is a collection of traditional Japanese hair accessories with a deep-rooted history dating back to ancient Japan. These exquisite adornments thrived during the era of artistic silk kimonos, opulent court clothing, and the elegant geisha in their elaborate ensembles. Even today, kanzashi remains an integral part of Japanese culture and can be spotted at various festivals and celebrations when paired with kimonos and other traditional attire.
Among the oldest kanzashi is the simple hair stick, initially more practical than decorative. It was believed to ward off evil spirits and curses while effectively securing long hair. During the Heian period, women grew their hair to great lengths, and the hair stick became invaluable for keeping their locks in place. As time passed and hairstyles evolved from smooth long hair to elaborate updos, kanzashi became a prominent fashion statement. These wearable works of art come in various shapes and sizes, and here are some notable examples:
Bira-bira: Hairpins adorned with dangling metal strips that twinkle and sway as the wearer moves. The base of the pin is often decorated with intricate filigree or silk flowers.
Kanoko Dome: Weighty accessories featuring precious metals, pearls, gemstones, and materials like tortoiseshell. Resembling brooches, they sit at the back of the head and are secured to updo hairstyles with a prong or comb. Often designed with floral or butterfly motifs.
Kogai: Simple hair sticks crafted from painted tortoiseshell, designed to resemble a sword and sheath. They are often paired with decorative combs.
Kushi: Decorative combs that are both beautiful and functional. They are used for combing the hair and also serve as decorative elements in hairstyles. Kushi is usually made of lacquered wood.
Tama kanzashi: Hair sticks with colorful balls at the ends, commonly red and green, crafted from materials like coral and jade. They are worn during winter and summer, respectively.
Tsumami Kanzashi: Hairpieces made using a pinching fabric technique to create delicate flowers and petals. Hana kanzashi, a well-known style among geisha hairstyles, features a cluster of flowers forming the base, with silk petals cascading down the hair like long trains.
Traditional Geisha Hairpieces: These include “Ogi,” a fan-shaped design pinned above the temple with long metal streamers; “Tachibana,” worn by apprentice geisha with two silver pins topped with red and green beads to symbolize good luck; and “Hirauchi,” worn by older maiko, featuring two pins with metal filigree discs.
Discover a variety of kanzashi at Japanese Style – explore our hair accessories to add an Eastern flair to your personal style!