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Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation

Romaji Nihongami
Kanji 日本髪
Kana にほんがみ
Audio Coming Soon
(n) traditional Japanese hairstyle

Nihongami (日本髪, literally Japanese hair) broadly refers to hairstyles worn by Japanese people from about the Kofun period (250–538 CE) to the early Shōwa period (1926-1989). More narrowly, it refers to women's hairstyles from the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568 to 1603) to the end of the Edo period (1603-1868).


The chasen-mage (茶筅髷, tea-whisk knot) style was worn by male youths throughout the Azuchi-Momoyama period. A variation was worn by women during the Edo period. The name refers to the scattered appearance of the fringe, which is supposed to resemble the tines of a bamboo tea-whisk.

Youth chasen-mage

The fringe (maegami) and pate were left unshaved, and the longer hair at the back of the head was gathered and simply tied up.

Women's chasen-mage

In the Edo period, the widows of daimyō and high ranking warriors cut their topknots as a show of continuing devotion to their husbands, in a style known as chasen-mage.


In the early Edo period, men wore their hair pulled back into what was known as an ichō-mage (銀杏髷), with a shaved pate and a topknot formed into a forward-facing fan that resembled a ginko leaf. The style is still worn by sumo wrestlers in modern Japan, but without the shaved pate. The ichō-mage was a type of chonmage, the style commonly associated with samurai. Ichō mage is also the name for a variation on the Shimada-mage style worn by women.


The kirikami (切り髪, cut hair) style was worn by high-ranking widows in the late Edo period. The back was worn short, and so was not put up in a bun.


Osuberakashi or ōsuberakashi (大垂髪, very long hair) was a Heian-era noblewoman's hairstyle which would have been worn with a jūnihitoe. Essentially the hair was left naturally very long, but it was tied at about the shoulder with decorative cords. From about the Nara period the front portions were put up and decorated with combs for special occasions.

Because the hair was allowed to grow extremely long, often to floor-length and beyond, caring for it was complicated. It was rinsed daily with the water left over from washing rice, and at night it was coiled into a lacquer box placed next to the sleeper. On days when the hair could not be washed, it was perfumed with incense. If the hair was thin, hair pieces were used to make it appear fuller.

A girl usually started growing her hair at the age of three, following a ceremony called a kami-oki no gi, or hair growing ceremony, after which the hair was simply allowed to grow. At a further ceremony on an auspicious day, often at the age of sixteen, the hair was partially cut at the cheek or shoulder, usually by the girl's father, brother, fiance, or other significant man.


The tatehyōgo (立兵庫) was worn by lower-class women such as kabuki actresses and prostitutes in the Muromachi period.


A variation of the tatehyōgo worn by oiran in the Edo period.