Hime: Understanding the Japanese Craze on Princesses

There was a time when aristocracy and people of higher birth ruled over the Land of the Sun. Japanese people who were born within a powerful clan had an upper hand over the peasant living along the streets of Japan. While equality is now being promoted all over the country, it was much different back in the day. There were many references to people who belonged to powerful families, depending on one’s position in the family tree. If a girl was a daughter of a very powerful man, typical a lord or shogun in feudal Japan, she would be referred to as Hime.

Hime Basics: Names, Honorifics, and Other Uses

By Yōshū Chikanobu (artsanddesignsjapan.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hime is a word in the Japanese language that translates to “princess.” Literally meaning “demoiselle,” hime is a Japanese term generally used to refer to a young lady of higher birth. On the other hand, a daughter of a monarch is generally referred to by other names instead of hime. An example of this would be Ojo, which literally means “daughter of the king,” despite the fact that even hime can be utilized to refer to Ojo.

Previously, the term “hime” was used to refer to any beautiful woman. The opposite term of “hime” is “shikome,” which literally translates to “ugly woman.” However, the term “shikome” is considered archaic and is therefore rarely used by any person. Another indication of the word “hime” would be “feminine.” When utilized together with other words, the word “hime” may simply mean “small.” An example of this would be “hime-gaki,” which just means “a low line of hedge” in English.

The term “hime” is also commonly viewed as a part of a name of Japanese female divinities. An example of this would be Toyotama-hime. To transliterate the term “hime,” the Kanji to be applied would either be 比売 or 毘売 instead of 姫. On the other hand, Hime also has a male or masculine counterpart, which is called Hiko.

To transliterate the term “hiko,” the Kanji to be applied would be 彦, 比古, or 毘古. It is also often viewed as a part of the names of Japanese male gods. An example of this would be Saruta-hiko. However, opposite to Hime, Hiko is considered neutral and non-archaic. Hence, it is still common to name modern Japanese males with the term “hiko” in them, such as Nobuhiko Takada.

Typically, a “Hime” would have to undergo a ceremony wherein she would first be considered as a “Daoshi” before finally becoming a Hime later on. This kind of ceremony is quite the same as the Japanese tea ceremony. Furthermore, this event lasts up to three hours.

There is also a proverb that is associated with the term “hime.” It goes by “Ichi hime ni taro.” This translates to, “First baby, a girl. Second baby, a boy.” The original meaning of this proverb is that it would be easier for the mother to first give birth to a baby girl. This is so that the mother would be able to get the proper experience of raising a child before finally giving birth to a baby boy. That way, the mother would already know how to raise her baby boy the right way.

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Sadly, with every household bearing fewer children through the year, this proverb has been confused as having three children or “one girl and two boys.” This confusion may also be attributed to the fact that “ichi” translates to “one” in the Japanese language while “ni” translates to “two.” Hence, the saying may literally mean, “One girl, two boys.”

Originally, the name Hime was used to refer to or address women of a noble or higher birth. However, there are a few families who have used it as part of the names of their daughters. Hence, some girls were given names with either just Hime or a name that incorporates the term “hime” in it. A girl by the name of Chujo-hime was considered the Japanese Cinderella. On the other hand, Konohanasakuya-hime is the goddess of Mt. Fuji. An anime series incorporated the term “hime” is called “Hime-sama Goyojin.” During the Sengoku period, there were various females who had “hime” in their names or who were addressed with the honorific “hime.”

An example of this would be Nohime. Wife to Oda Nobunaga, she was originally called Lady No. Also called Kicho, Lady No was commonly referred to as Nohime due to her high birth and position in politics. A daughter of the daimyo Saito Dosan, Nohime was famous not just for her beauty but also for her cleverness.

Another example would be Tokuhime, the second daughter of Tokugawa Ieyasu. She was also known by other names such as Tomiko, Ryosho-in, Ofu, and Harima-gozen. A princess during the Sengoku and the Edo period, Tokuhime was born from her mother Lady Nishigori who was among Ieyasu’s concubines. Princess Tokuhime married twice and had children with both husbands. A princess through and through, Tokuhime aided her father in some of his political moves.

Getting A Hime Cut: The Japanese Princess Haircut

Literally translating to “princess cut,” the hime cut is a form of hairstyle quite popular among women. Also known as Hime katto in Japanese, the Hime cut is composed of a straight haircut with sidelocks that only reach the cheeks in terms of length. This hairstyle also comes with a frontal fringe. The rest of the hair aside from the parts mentioned in the haircut are maintained long and straight. It is a clean and classic hairstyle among women.

As the name suggests, the Hime cut is believed to have originated from the Heian period. During this time, women of higher or noble birth would at time grow their hair out for the entirety of their lives, the look of which is similar to the Hime cut. It was highly popular back in the day as the hair was seen as a woman’s crowning glory. Long, shiny black hair also signified good health for Japanese women.

For those with naturally straight hair, it can be quite easy to maintain the Hime cut. After all, it is basically just composed of straight hair all around, only cut at different lengths depending on the side of the head. However, this hairstyle may be considered high maintenance for women who do not possess naturally straight hair. Especially during the summer season wherein the hair could get really frizzy, it would be imperative to touch up the sidelocks and the front fringes constantly to maintain its shape and to avoid the hair from becoming wavy, curly, or worse, frizzy.

There are various ways in order to help make the maintenance of this hairstyle a little bit easier for girls who do not hair naturally straight hair. Tools like straightening irons definitely aid in making the strengthening process of the hair a bit faster. There are also shampoos that are specially formulated just for straight hair. These would be highly recommended for people who do not have straight hair but want to maintain the Hime cut.

Another problem that may arise when one has a Hime cut is humidity. Not only does humidity cause the hair to become frizzy and oily but it also changes, or rather destroys, the shape of the Hime cut. Curling of the hair would be inevitable without the use of proper products and tools. A solution to this issue may be hair extensions and weaves to be utilized for the sidelocks to that the humidity mess may be prevented.

Gothic Lolita subculture often uses this hairstyle, specifically the grouping of Elegant Gothic Lolita. Because the Hime cut gives off that classic and elegant look due to the straight hairstyle, many girls that classify themselves as Gothic Lolita opt for this hairstyle. Instead of damaging their hair from all the curling and crimping, they prefer to just maintain a clean and classic Hime cut.

The sidelocks of this hairstyle also have its own variations, as can be seen in anime and manga. An example of this would be longer sidelocks pulled in front of the ears as can be seen on an anime character known as Kikyo from the series Inuyasha. There are also those Hime cuts that only have the sidelocks and totally got rid of the front bangs. On the other hand, there are also those that sport shorter sidelocks such as Ai Enma from the anime series Hell Girl.

Layered sidelocks are also another variant of the Hime cut. An example would be Vocaloid Megurine Luka, who sports her cut with sidelocks that seem to be layered from the level of her mouth all the way down to her neck. Another variant of sidelocks style would be short sidelocks that make the wearer look like a pageboy. This style is often paired with odango, as can be seen being worn by Miaka Yuki from the anime series Fushigi Yugi.

Gyaru Fashion for Girls: Dressing Up Hime Lolita Style

Women can also dress up as Hime Lolita, which literally translates to Princess Lolita. Hime Lolita is basically a substyle of Lolita, which features elegant and royal themes. Girls who would like to look like a princess are the ones into the Hime Lolita Style. This style has taken its inspiration from the Hime Gyaru fashion although it has kept its basis on Lolita. Girls who dress up with the Hime Lolita style are called Himelolis.

Himelolis who gravitate towards the Classic style commonly take their inspiration from the Rococo period. Themes that are typical of the Hime Lolita style include pearls, miniature crowns, lace gloves, and high heels. These accessories give the style a more dainty and princess-y look to it. The dresses for this style may also be a tad shorter in comparison to other Lolita dresses.

Hime Lolita style cannot be considered pretty simple. Dressing up with this style constitutes dresses that contain many frills and ribbons. Considered to be an over-the-top style, Hime Lolita style is usually comprised of white or pink dresses with floral or regal prints on them. These prints may include tiaras and crowns. Jumper skirts are also included in the Hime Lolita theme though they are often worn without a blouse. Either that or the jumper skirts are worn with blouses with flared and very elaborate sleeves.

There is also a wide variety of hairstyles when channeling Hime Lolita. This may include the usual Sweet Lolita hairstyle, which is probably the simplest and most common hairstyle used by most Himelolis. On the other hand, one may also opt for a curly and very elaborate updo, which gives the style a more regal but childish look to it. Sometimes, there are girls who wear extra long wigs just to be able to complete the whole look.

The footwear for the Hime Lolita style is often shoes with high heels. This is because wearing doll or flat shoes gives off a very simple look, which is contrary to what the Hime Lolita style is all about. The style of the shoes was also inspired by the iconic shoes that were worn in Himegyaru, which was released by Jesus Diamante, a Gyaru brand. As for the makeup, one may opt for either a subtle or a full-on Himegyaru look. Generally, false eyelashes and decorated and very elaborate false nails are worn by girls who are into Hime Lolita style.

Hime Design on Wallets

Other things like wallets also have their own Hime design. This is usually composed of a material that is made from silk and has a very traditional design. Typically, the design has floral patterns printed or stitched in the wallet. Vibrant colors are also usually used when designing these wallets. Instead of the normal zipper, hime wallets utilize an older style that resembles that of a coin purse. The design itself looks very feminine and classy, especially for traditional Japanese women. Truly, these wallets are designed for Japanese princesses.

While the notion of princesses and of being in a higher position over poor people is no longer present in Japan, the idea and essence of Japanese princesses are still quite popular among the youth. There may be some factors that affect this craze over Japanese princesses. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that there is truly something enticing about Japanese princesses, with all the femininity and daintiness.