The end of March is the end of the school year and graduation time here in Japan! A lot of high school and college girls will wear a special look for their graduation: hakama pants worn over kimono. Today, outside of certain traditional sports, women don’t ever wear hakama. This combination is like the robe and square cap for American graduates.
How did this come to be the “uniform” for graduation? Back when the public school system was first getting started, over 100 years ago, girls wore much simpler combinations of this outfit as their daily school uniforms, paired with boots. (That’s why boots, as seen in 5, are also a traditional part of the outfit.)
Oiran, high-class Japanese courtesan-prostitutes of old, had the most striking hair of anyone in Japan. While normal women or geisha (who were not prostitutes) wore a hairpin or two, oiran would wear a ton, including a few types specific to them.
Here’s a general breakdown of their style, thanks to shop Nagomiya on Rakuten. They sell both a full set and individual pins for costumers and reenactors.
Top left on the graphic: 2 Tama-kanzashi 玉かんざし (also called aka-dama-kan 赤玉かん) - “ball pins” “red ball pins”
Middle left: 2 Toku-dai-yoshi-chou 特大芳丁 - “extra-large perfume stick”
Bottom left: 2 Yoshi-chou 芳丁- “perfume stick”
Top right: 2 Matsu-ba-kanzashi 松葉かんざし - “pine needle hairpin”
Middle right: 3 Muji-kushi 無地櫛 – “plain/unpatterned comb”
Bottom right: 1 Kougai 笄 – “hair stick” (also called nobe-bou のべ棒 / 延べ棒 – “bar”)
Edit: Since the source appears to be getting lost in reblogs, here’s the site you can buy them from.
(I kind of wonder why some of the hairpins were called perfume sticks - that wouldn’t have been literal, would it? That they were made of fragrant wood or something?)
(Oh, and those tama kanzashi might be related to the ones geisha wear?)
All of these hairpins were traditionally made of tortoise shell: like the “pine needle” name, I believe the “perfume stick” one is just poetic.
"Tama kanzashi" is a general name for that type of hair pin, so yes, it’s the same type geisha and normal women wear. :)
This is a beautiful example of classical Japanese dance, called “buyou” (boo-yoh), which I was lucky enough to study for awhile before I moved and lost my teacher.
The classic “Fuji Musume” (Wisteria Maiden) is actually danced here by a man, the famous Kabuki onnagata Bando Tamasaburo V.
Way back in the day, Kabuki actresses’ fanboys kept getting into brawls and knifing each other over who was the biggest fan of different actresses. The government finally had enough and banned women from the stage.
From that point on all parts were played by handsome teenagers, but the brawls continued. Finally female roles were restricted to adult men, and brawls stopped.
These men who specialize in playing women are called “onnagata” and are highly regarded: Tamasaburo is one of the most popular Kabuki actors in Japan.
Our friend Sheila Cliffe’s kimono video series has finally gone live! Be sure to subscribe to Kimono World and keep up with the latest episode (episode #2 is already out!). http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCXtUpZcCBulG_ylbcxJNg?feature=watch
This is exciting! From her Facebook page, she’s always struck me as very knowledgable and friendly. The second episode features a craftsman who specializes in painting on silk and is definitely worth a watch for both his art and his single-mindedness about improving his skills.
Years ago this was on repeat at a supermarket I always went to, and I just found it again today. Be warned: it’ll get stuck in your head if you’re not careful!
Ichigo no kuni kara,
ichigo no kuni kara
akakute marui ichigo da yo!
"Sweet, round strawberries from the land of strawberries, the land of strawberries!"
Sono na wa Ama O,
Ama, Ama, Ama O,
Hakata Ama O oishii yo!
"The name for strawberries is Ama O, Hakata Ama O. They’re really good!"
How about some Western celebrities in kimono? (As a note, many Japanese are happy to see foreign people wearing their traditional clothing: website comments for all of these looks were “She’s so cute!” “He’s so cool!” etc.)
From the top: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Jackson (BAD era), Natalie Portman (The Professional/Leon era), Selena Gomez, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, and Reese Witherspoon.