The Many Styles of Kanzashi from Ordinary to Extraordinary

  • The kanzashi are Japanese hair ornaments typically made by materials such as gold, silk, silver, or tortoiseshell. There are various types of kanzashi that were used and worn in the past and some still used today. These are some of the basic styles of the traditional hair ornaments:

    Mimikaki kanzashi

    This kanzashi looks like an earpick because it basically is one. It usually has a decorative end so it can function as both an earpick and a hair accessory! Normally it was used to scratch an itchy scalp after hair styling. It was popular among the common people in the past.

    Matsuba kanzashi

    Matsuba means pine needles. This kanzashi is made of tortoiseshell (real and fake) and its design is similar to that of a fallen pine needle. It was popularly used by the oiran, who were courtesans regarded as possessing a high social status.

    Tama kanzashi

    Tama means ball so this kanzashi has a ball which is typically made of coral or jade. Tama kanzashi is one of the most popular types of kanzashi. A red tama is traditionally worn during the months of October to May, while a green tama is traditionally worn during the months of June to September.

    Hirauchi kanzashi

    This is a kanzashi with a flat, rounded decoration. Usually, the hirauchi kanzashi would be worn by the senior maiko at the back of their ofuku hairstyle.

    Hana kanzashi

    Hana means flower and this kanzashi is most popularly sported by geisha and maiko who wear different kanzashi according to seasons or months. They are created using a pinching method known as tsumami. Generally, this style of kanzashi is worn in pairs.

    Birabira kanzashi

    Also known as the dangling or fluttering style, this kanzashi usually has ornaments like tinkling long weeping chains and small bird or butterfly figures. Sometimes, the design includes long, tinkling silk flower chains known as shidare.

    Kogai kanzashi

    Kogai means sword and the kogai kansashi is a two piece kanzashi which represents a sword and its sheath. It is traditionally made using tortoiseshell. The kogai kanzashi is usually sold together with the kushi comb.

    Kushi kanzashi

    This is a comb kanzashi which are typically rounded or rectangular combs. They are usually made of tortoiseshell or lacquered wood. The comb’s spine is usually wide so that it has more space for design. A popular variation is the hanagushi or flower combs which are suitable for non-formal wear.

    Kanoko Dome kanzashi

    The kanoko dome kanzashi are usually rounded but other shapes like flowers and butterflies are also popular. It features heavily jeweled accessories such as gold, pearls, and other semi-precious stones. A junior maiko would wear the kanoko dome at the back of her wareshinobu hairstyle.

    Ogi kanzashi

    This type of kanzashi is also referred to as the princess style. It is fan-shaped with aluminium streamers. Maiko usually wear the ogi kanzashi just above the temple. New maiko wear two ogi kanzashi on the day they make their debut (misedashi).

    Tachibana kanzashi

    Tachibana kanzashi is a kanzashi with two silver pins which is sported by maiko with the wareshinobu hairstyle. It has red and green beads which represent the fruits of the mandarin tree that symbolize good luck in the early years.

    Which style of kanzashi looks most appealing to you? I am in love with the ogi kanzashi but I am not sure if it would suit regular hairstyles. Unfortunately, I have not seen them sold anywhere in my country! How about yours?

    Related Articles:
    Kanzashi: The Traditional Hair Ornament and Self-Defense Weapon!
    Kanzashi: An Overview of a Maiko’s Seasonal Hair Ornaments