June 27, 2016

by Haruna Masuzaki, Shiori Funatsuki & Ayaka Kanamori

Kanzashi is a traditional accessory used in Japan since long ago to tie and decorate a woman’s hair. In our modern age kanzashi is considered a special, rather fancy accessory since it is a traditional item. It is able to beautify and keep the hair together, making it a very convenient hair accessory. In Japan, it is considered to be in the same category as necklaces and rings.


Maiko who wear kanzashi.

History of Kanzashi

There are two theories of how kanzashi came to be. First is that the thin part of the kanzashi is thought to have spiritual powers. Those spiritual powers keep bad spirits away, bringing good fortune upon the individual wearing it. It was called kanizashi at first, which would translate as “god thrust.” implying that when the accessory is thrust into the hair, its powers kept bad spirits away. It is believed that the name changed into kanzashi from kanizashi over time due to its similarity in sound.

The second theory is that during the Heian period in Japan, there was a practice to put flowers and tree branches inside the hair when performing spiritual/religious ceremonies or rituals. That process was called kazashi, and that term turned into kanzashi as time went by.

History of Kanzashi

Women wore kanzashi in the old days.

Who uses Kanzashi?

There are many kinds of kanzashi. Long ago, it was used to put together hairstyle that would suit a kimono. However in recent years kanzashi can be worn with casual clothes and dresses. Before, kanzashi was made out of wood or silver, but nowadays it is made with plastic, making it affordable and easy to handle.

Types of kanzashi

The shape of kanzashi has changed depending on it uses from olden days. There are three types. First, this is tama kanzashi. This is the most popular type among all of them, and it has a simple style with only one ornament on it, so you can try it easily, if you wearkanzashifor the first time.

Tama kanzashi

This is the most popular type.

Second, this is hirauchi kanzashi. The ornament has a flat and round shape with one or two legs. In the old days, women in the samurai class often wore this type of kanzashi with their own family crest on it. In the later Edo period, it was the trend among geisha to wear one that had their lover’s family crest on it.

Hirauchi kanzashi

The ornament has a flat, and round shape with one or two legs.

Lastly, this is tumami kanzashi. Most of these have flower motifs, so it is also called hanakanzashi; ‘hana’ means flower. This is mainly used by maiko in Kyoto, and they change it every month, and its flower shows the changing of the four seasons. The bigger flower is a symbol of a senior maiko. At present, some shops near Yasaka Shrine sell such kanzashi for Maiko, so if you are interested in kanzashi, please go there and enjoy the types of kanzashi they have.

Tsumami kanzashi

Most of these have flower motifs.

Where to shop for kanzashi

There are three famous kanzashi stores. The first, is Kanameya in Tokyo. This store started in 1934. Its assortment of tortoiseshell products is No. 1 in Ginza. They are a little stylish, and make gorgeous kimono accessories. In addition, at the same time they tell future generations about how wonderful old traditional Japanese crafts are, and how they always are playful and trying to incorporate “fun,” and “newness.”

The next store is Kazurasei in Kyoto. This shop sells camellia oil, hair care series, cosmetics and other accessories. The highest price for a kanzashi there is 118,800yen and they have sold out. Amazing! The cheapest of kanzashiis 4,644yen. I thought that this price was expensive for me. This shop hasthree branches in Kyoto.

Lastly, is Ohabariko. This shop’s products are all handmade. It offers goods that meet customer requests as cheaply as possible. How about you? Did you want to something stores? Please go to these stores.


Kazurasei’s kanzashi.

Access to Kazurasei

Take the bus bound for Kiyomizu temple from Kyoto station, you should get off Gion, you will see the shop on the right, it is about 5 minutes on foot.


by Koudai Kobayashi and Akari Mihashi

Kanzashi is a traditional Japanese hair accessory for women. In English we might call it a ‘traditional Japanese hair ornament’. Historically, it was made of many different materials, for example, wood, gold or silver-plated metal, elephant tusks, and even silk. But recently, it has come to be made of plastic. For the part of the charm, other rare materials are used, such as coral, agate, jadeite, and crystal.

 Kanzashi  3       Kanzashi  1


History of Kanzashi

The origins of kanzashi lie in ancient Japan. At that time people believed that a special power was contained with a thin stick, and by inserting the stick into ones hair, evil sprits or bad energy could be warded off. So, kanzashi was originally thought to be more of an amulet rather than a hair accessory.

In the Nara period (710~794 AD), what we now know as kanzashi came to Japan via China. Then, in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573~1600 AD), the hairstyle of Japanese women changed from long straigt hair to a variety of hairdos, thus the need for greater varieties of hair ornaments. At that time, the creation and use of kanzashi became more popular.

In the early Edo period (1603 AD) in Kyoto, hanabira kanzashi (flower kanzashi) began to be worn by women. When that style made its way to Edo (what is now Tokyo), it evolved into Tumami kannzashi (we explained this type of Kanzashi below No. 4)

After the middle of the Edo period, kanzashi became more and more popular and its shape became more diversified, for example, slim ones, wide ones, and elliptical ones. Moreover, the designs became even more beautiful, colorful, and elaborate.

In the Meiji period (1868~1912 AD), in association with westernization, Japanese women adopted a more western-style look, so kananzashi became out of fashion. But nowadays because of its history and usefulness, kanzashi has become popular again.

There are now a wide variety of different kanzashi designs. Also, the price has become much more affordable, so we can buy kanzashi more easily.

 Kanzashi  2             Kanzashi  5

Types of Kanzashi

These days, there are many kinds of Kanzashi. Here are some examples.


It is a thin and slender kanzashi. It has one or two legs. Originally, it was used by samurai class woman. On the top, there is round, rhombus, or flower-pattern ornament. It was originally made with silver, wood, or bamboo. Nowadays however, it is mainly made of plastic, because it is inexpensive.

Kanzashi  4



This is a form of kanzashi that looks like an ear pick. At one end, there is a small colored ball. This ball can be made of many different materials, such as amber, lapis lazuli, jade, tortoiseshell, elephant tusk, glass, plastic, etc.

Kanzashi  7 Kanzashi  10 



This type of kanzashi is similar to tama-kazashi, but without the ball at the top. It was made of metal traditionally, but is now also made of plastic. It used to be for married woman to wear. In the case of geisha, they can wear two such kanzashi, but in case of a prostitute, they can use any number of yoshicho kanzashi.

Kanzashi  6


It is also called ‘hana-kanzashi’ because it is made into the shape of a flower. It is made of colorful silk. Tsumami-kanzashi is now often used by maiko (geisha-in-training).

 Kanzashi  8

Seasonal Designs

As stated above, maiko are geisha-in-training. They often wear hana-kanzashi, which contain flower designs that follow the seasons of the year. In Kyoto, we can see the change of the season from the hana-kanzashi the maiko wear.

In January, pine, bamboo, and plum are common kanzashi motifs. The crane motif is also used, and it is made to appear very lively.

In February, pretty plum flowers are often used. In the days before the beginning of spring, we also see ornamental ball-shaped scent bags on kanzashi.

In March, we see rape blossom,narcissus, peony in use. Especially, the rape blossom is the most typical flower of this season.

In April, weeping cherries are common. The weeping cherry blossom is the quintessential flower of the Japanese spring, so wearing cherry blossoms on their kanzashi makes maiko look very cute.

In May, blue iris and Japanese wisteria are often used on kanzashi. In the old calendar, May signifies the rainy season, so people use a fresh color.

In June, hydrangea and willow is often used. In this month the color of Kanzashi becomes blue or green, which looks fresh. Also, the color of the maiko’s kimono changes to a lighter shade.

In July, the whole city of Kyoto is enveloped in the spirit of the Gion festival, so the style and kanzashi of maiko becomes very lively. Their kimono becomes a light color and goldfish are also used in their kanzashi. When we see kanzashi in July, we can feel cool, refreshed, and festive.

In August, morning glory and silver grass is often used. In the old calendar, August is early autumn, so the design of kanzashi becomes cooler. Morning glory is a Japanese summer tradition.

In September, bellflowers and Japanese bush clovers are often used. At the time, the atmosphere of Kyoto is perfect for relaxing.

In October, the chrysanthemum, which is the typical flower of autumn, is the main mofif. From small to large chrysanthemums, a variety of designs appear in the kanzashi.

In November, the red leaves of autumn are fantastic in Kyoto, so as you might imagine, the Kanzashi of maiko displays the same beautiful red leaves of autumn. It makes this season more colorful and beautiful.

In December, gorgeous flowers and bringers of good luck are used a lot, because in this month, people are very busy to prepare for the next year. For this reason, the design of Kanzashi is a splendid one.

 Kanzashi  9

How to use Kanzashi

  1. Tie up your hair.
  2. Twist your hair in a clockwise direction a few times.
  3. Hold your hair twisted with your one hand
  4. Put kanzashi into your hair from the top to the middle of the hair twisted.
  5. Put on the left of your head while holding your hair twisted with your one hand.
  6. Turn the edge of the kanzashi upside down to face the lower right.
  7. Insert two kanzashi to the lower right along your head.
  8. Wear your kanzashi with happiness and humility.


In Kyoto, there is a good Kanzashi shop, where there are various types of Kanzashi.

Please click this link and go there to buy your favorite Kanzashi.






By Nao Kagami, Nanami Sakuragi, Mayuko Seki


(Kanzashi em flor, usada por uma Maiko, em Quioto)


O Kanzashi é o ornamento tradicional nos cabelos das senhoras japonesas.

De origem chinesa, foi usado pela primeira vez no Japão durante o período Jomon (14,000–300 A.C.), mas foi durante o Período Edo (1603–1868) que o seu uso se generalizou, quando os artesãos japoneses tornaram o Kanzashi num ornamento muito sofisticado, que podia até ser usado como arma de defesa.

Hoje em dia, a maioria das mulheres japonesas prefere usar penteados de estilo occidental no seu dia-a-dia, mas o Kanzashi continua a ser muito comum nos casamentos de estilo shintoísta, ou pelas maikos (aprendizes de gueisha).


As Maikos e o Kanzashi


As famosas gueishas e as aprendizes “maikos” habitam nos famosos “Kagai” de Quioto. Kagai significa “Cidade em flor” e são os bairros típicos da cidade. Existem cinco destes bairros: Gion Kobu, Pontocho, Miyagawacho, Kamishichiken and Gion Higashi.


Quem anda pelos Kagai de Quioto, certamente terá oportunidade de encontrar gueishas e maikos usando o atraente “Kanzashi” que, parecendo ornamentos tão grandes e pesados, são na verdade muito leves. Isto só é possível porque são feitos de coral e cal.


As Maikos usam algumas técnicas especiais conhecidas como “Hana Kanzashi” e “Tsumami Kanzashi”. Os Kanzashi de metal eram conhecidos como “Birakan Birakan”, mas hoje há muitos “Birakan Birakan” feitos de plástico.


As estações do ano e o Kanzashi


O Kanzashi encontra-se intimamente ligado à cultura japonesa e à sua relação com as estações do ano. As gueishas e as maikos usam o Kanzashi conforme os meses do ano:



Janeiro: pinho, bambu.

kkp       k


Fevereiro: flor de ameixeira.












Março: flor japonesa Nanohana (Brassica rapa L), flor de pessegueiro em flor e camélias.

s        a


Abril : flor de cerejeira (sakura) e formas de borboletas.



Maio : Ayame (iris japonesa).









Junho : hortênsia.


Julho : Uchiwa (leques japoneses), durante de Festival de Gion (7/10~24), desenhos de peixe-dourado.

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Agosto : flor Asagao (Glória-da-manhã) e flor Susuki (Miscanthus sinensis)











Setembro: flor campainha-chinesa, com temas alusivos ao outono.



Outubro: crisântemo.











Novembro: folhas vermelhas.



Dezembro : Maneki (pequenas tábuas de madeira), cristais de neve

gt gg



Em último lugar, apresentamos uma loja onde poderM﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽2 e Kanzashi. A loja “poderorme os meses do ano:os de estilo ocidental á comprar produtos relativos ao Kanzashi. A loja “Ikuokaya” existe desde 1862 e é muito famosa


Nome da loja



Fundação 1862
Horário 11:30-19:00
Numero de telefone (+81) 75 561 8087EndereçoJAPAN 605-0074 Kyoto,
Endereco Higashiyama-ku, Gion-machi, Minami-gawa 557-2
HP http://www.ikuokaya.com/.


ju      j




Kyoto Attractions Cast in Glass

by Emiri Iwagami and Miki Hamada

One of the best-known and most popular temples in Kyoto is Kiyomizu-dera. Perched up in the eastern hills, it provides visitors with spectacular panoramic views of Kyoto city. Huge crowds flock to see Kiyomizu’s many maple trees and its famous night light-up in autumn. The slopes leading up to this famous tourist site are marked with many narrow lanes that are lined with restaurants, galleries, and souvenir shops. One such shop is Kiyomizu-zaka Garasu-kan, or the Kiyomizu-zaka Glass Gallery.

The Kiyomizu Glass Gallery displays and sells accessories that are made of different kinds of glass. They mainly have traditional Japanese ornamental hairpins (kanzashi), hairbands, necklaces, bracelets, pierced earrings, earrings, and other accessories. Their designs vary from simple to flashy, so they can appeal to both younger and older women. All of them use glass in their designs. Also on display are glass ornaments and clocks.


Most of the accessories are colored with tiny beautiful decorations; even the adjustable clasps on the necklaces and bracelets are decorated. Many of the shop’s accessories are made using various colors of handmade Venetian glass. These items are made with extremely fine techniques that make them not only attractive but also strong. Some of the skills used are found in other Japanese crafts.

Some of the jewelry items feature Alexandrite, a gemstone that has unusual properties. This stone’s color changes according to the illumination. Some of the accessories show miniature and detailed images of Kyoto— scenes from the past and present that are made out of glass. For example there are accessories that depict the Kamogawa, Hanami-kouji (the main street in Gion), geisha and others. These accessories are particularly favored by customers.



Kanzashi are ornamental hairpins that are used in traditional Japanese hairstyles. Kanzashi come in two types: single-pronged kanzashi are for women with long hair; two-pronged kanzashi are recommended for women with shorter hair.

Many kinds of kanzashi are sold in the Glass Gallery. In the past, gorgeous and elaborate kanzashi were strong sellers, but now customers seem to prefer kanzashi simple in design since they can be worn on both formal and ordinary occasions. One designer who works at the Glass Gallery creates his own original kanzashi that incorporate seasonal patterns or images of Kyoto. Customers who buy kanzashi receive a free DVD that demonstrates how to use kanzashi and also how to make 20 traditional hairstyles. The DVD is not only in Japanese but includes English and Chinese as well.

DVD  kanzashi1 kanzashi2

Make your own glass art work!

The Kiyomizu-zaka Glass Gallery has a studio where customers can create their own handmade glass works. The owner began this experiential studio because he wants many people to know about Kyoto glass. This is the only place in Kyoto where visitors can try to make their own works of glass, so it is popular with a wide range of people. After a customer makes a basic design, the studio will finish the work in about ten days. But this is not a problem for foreign tourists since the gallery will mail the finished glass work anywhere in the world. The studio is located in the main building. The time required for a session is about 90 minutes.

Items you can make and cost:

Small articles

Ring, Hairpin: 1,400 yen~

Key holder, Strap, Pendant: 1,620 yen~

Pierced Earring: 1,730 yen~

Brooch, Hairband: 1,840 yen~


Big items

Incense stand: 2,480 yen~

Barrette: 2,050 yen~

Footlight, Photo frame : 3,240 yen~

Decorated plate: 3,560 yen~

Timepiece: 5,620 yen~

Mid-size timepiece: 8,100 yen~

Large-size timepiece: 16,200 yen~


The Kiyomizu Galss Gallery is open throughout year, from 9:00 to 7:00pm (closing begins at 6:30pm)

Official web site


Online shop






by Chiho Inaba; Yukari Maruoka


Kanzashi are traditional Japanese hair ornaments, and their origins date back to the Jomon era. In ancient Japan, people believed that the power to counter a curse dwelt in the point of a stick. Consequently, they began wearing small pointed sticks in their hair as good luck charms. This story relates to us the origins of kanzashi.

During the Nara period, the influence of Chinese culture, in particular that of Sui and Tang, was reflected in the design of fashion items, ornaments and kanzashi. In China at this time, it was common for men and women to pay attention to their hairstyle, and in Japan, also. This lasted until the Heian period, when the fashion went back to long, straight hair and kanzashi began to be used less and less. This was all to change, however, in the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods. Throughout these times, an increase in criminal behavior led to the banning of clothing that covered one’s face or head. As people could not walk out wearing hats or other headwear, they started to take a real interest in hairdressing once more. This can certainly be connected to the development of new hairstyles and kanzashi during these times.

Around the middle of the Edo period, hairdressing became very popular and so did the changing designs and types of kanzashi. In addition to the basic forms, there were a lot of ornamental varieties. The materials used were as diverse as wood, ivory (from elephant tusks), tortoise shell, horses’ hooves, and in some rare cases, even glass. There were many shapes on offer, too: thin, wide, round, flat, short, and long. Of course, there were also numerous designs to choose from. However, most ordinary people couldn’t buy the most expensive ones, and they were only really for those of the samurai class and higher.

Kinds of kanzashi

Kanzashi of the Edo era can be separated into several categories, and it is possible to find some interesting antique ones in shops in Kyoto. The main, and distinguishing, features are that they come in either fork-shaped or single-stick varieties, and the ends can double as ear picks. Here are some examples and explanations:

Mimikaki kanzashi

These are basically ear picks with a decorative handle end, popular among more common folk of the time.

Matsuba kanzashi

These are called ‘matsuba’ because they are shaped like fallen pine cones. They are also a simple variety similar to mimikaki kanzashi.

Tama kanzashi

These usually have a single ball made of coral or jade on the top, although lots of other materials are also used. They are one of the most popular types, even today, and come in a number of different sizes.

Hirauchi kanzashi

These usually have a thin, silver or gold body and are produced with a flat, circular design. They are also made from wood or tortoiseshell, and often decorated with symbols or flower patterns.

Hana kanzashi

Hana kanzashi are most famously worn by geiko and maiko, and feature strings of dangling flowers made of silk. These are very much a seasonal kanzashi, and in fact there are different ones for each month of the year.

Birabira kanzashi

These are mainly made of metal with a fan-shaped top part. They have numerous interesting ornamental features, like long weeping chains that tinkle when moved, with tiny figures of birds or butterflies at the bottom.

How to make a cute hair arrangement with kanzashi

Gather your hair up in one hand.
Twist hair into a tight knot.
Focus the tip of the kanzashi on the point where you wish to insert it.
Move the topknot into desired position and insert the kanzashi.
Check to make sure hair is fixed firmly in place.

Designing your own kanzashi

Kanzashi can be found in certain specialist shops in Kyoto, and in addition, some shops sell the individual parts to allow you to design and produce your own kanzashi. To choose and make your own kanzashi is very exciting, so why don’t you give it a go!

The Tetsuo Ishihara Museum of Traditional Japanese Hairstyles

In this museum, in the Gion district of Kyoto, you can see over 200 examples of kanzashi and also 115 different hairstyles from Japanese history. The building also houses the Kurenai Sakkou Make-over Studio, where you can be transformed into a maiko, geiko or tayu (courtesan). This is a really unique experience and well worth a visit.

Museum prices:

Adult 600 yen
University student 500 yen
Junior/Senior high 400 yen
Elementary 300 yen
Opening hours: 10.00 am ~ 5.00 pm

Location and contact details:

Shirakawa Building, 2F Yamato Oji Shijo Agaru Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0079
(about 5 mins walk north of Shijo Keihan Stn, or 5 mins walk south of Sanjo Keihan Stn, on Nawate Street)
Tel/Fax: (075) 551 – 9071
Email: yamato@aurora.ocn.ne.jp
www. 6.ocn.ne.jp/~yamato93/