Friday, May 14, 2010

What Do You Call...? - Hair Ornaments

While chopsticks are never worn in the hair in Japan, a great many beautiful hair ornaments can be worn with kimono. What are they called?

In general, they're called "kanzashi" 簪 and today the nicest ones are most often worn by geisha and oiran-actors (oiran were courtesan prostitutes and were outlawed a long time ago, so today you only see re-enactors).

If you're looking for the ones maiko, apprentice geisha, wear with dangling bits of silver that look almost like wind chimes, you want "bira bira" (sparkle sparkle) kanzashi. びらびら簪

The pretty tortoiseshell (or look alike) combs are called kushi 櫛 and are usually paired with thick hair sticks called kogai 笄, as seen in the photo above, and the ones with flowers made of folded squares of silk are called "tsumami" kanzashi つまみ簪.

Pimpin' it really old school: a classical oiran, the biggest and boldest wearers of kanzashi in Japanese history. Photo by Gene Jackson.

An example of the waterfall-like "hana (flower) kanzashi 花簪" style worn by maiko, showing the tsumami folding technique. Photo by Pitke.

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