The Importance of Hairstyles for the Japanese

The Importance of Hair for the Japanese

For both men and women in Japan, hair is an important element in one’s overall look. In history, it is considered as a means of telling one’s status and rank in society. For women, it is their crowning glory and a means of indicating one’s wealth. There are signature hairstyles which are worn only by nobility. There are also some hairstyles which are worn only by royalty. Some hairstyles are worn only by married women and there are some which are worn only during special occasions.

It was only during the time when Japan was influenced by the west that shorter styles in men became trendy. A clean shaven look to match a suit, a coat and a hat started to become more preferred over the long sleek hair. Until decades later, most men wear their hair short.

Japanese Hairstyles throughout history

Japanese Hairstyles Traditional

Traditional hairstyles in Japan were used as status symbols which are why women of historical Japan spend fortunes on constructing their hair. It is not just about keeping the hair long and pretty, unlike nowadays. It is about creating that elaborate design that can serve similarly like a crown. 

 Because of this importance of hair in Japanese society, there are trends that have come and gone to aid in beauty of the hair. The hair is usually worn in a chignon or an elaborate bun, which is designed with intricate hair pieces and accessory.

For instance, elaborate hair ornamentation such as the kanzashi became quite popular during the earlier times. This hair design varies per season. They can be made up of precious stones, metal, flowers, and beads. The more colorful the kanzashi the better it is.

Ordinary women in Japan simply wore their hair in a bun or tied at the back. This gives other people an idea that this particular person wears her hair more for functionality than style. No ornamentation is placed and hair is not kept too heavy to ensure that she can still work her chores. There came a point that elaborate hair design was only used for special occasions and events like weddings, debuts, and the like.

Japanese hairstyles with Kanzashi

It is a common misconception for non-Japanese people to think that some traditional hair ornaments use chopsticks. These may look similar as a chopstick but these are actually kanzashi pins or sticks. These are specially designed prongs which are stuck onto the hair to give it a pretty design when worn in a bun.

Japanese hairstyles for Geisha and Maiko

For the geisha and the maiko, hair might be one of the most important aspects of their entire professional career. What is interesting about the geisha and the Maiko are the fact that they change their hairstyles according to seasonality. Their hair is also a depiction of their role, their rank, and their level of apprenticeship.

Both the geisha and the Maiko are supposed to wear traditionally styled hair. On top of this, this must be able to last for a week. This involves a number of combing, waxing, and teasing – ensuring that the hairstyle is constructed to last. Once a maiko becomes a full geisha, they can now wear wigs of different styles. However, makos are supposed to use their real hair and must visit a hair dresser on a weekly basis and sleep stiffly so as to not destroy their perfectly constructed hair.

There are hairstyles worn for dance recitals, for special occasions, for going out to training and the like. The Mishi-dashi hairstyle is worn for the debut of a maiko. It is said that the hairstyles of a maiko are more daring and elaborate than that of a geisha. This is to emphasize their prettiness. However, a geisha wears less elaborate but more elegant hairstyles. This is why it is easy to distinguish a geisha from a maiko.

After a mizuage or a symbolic rite of passage showing maturity has been attained by a maiko. This is a symbolism showing that the geisha has come of age. In the earlier times, the mizuage is attained after a Maiko receives her first Danna (or sponsor). Nowadays, the mizuage is marked after three full years of training or after the 18th birthday.

What makes the ofuku unique is the fact that the back of the bun is ornamented with flowers which change in color. The ofuku hairstyle is designed with ‘split peach’ where one side is ornamented with flowers and the other side is ornamented with a bra-bra.

Japanese Hairstyles for the Samurai

The chonmage is a top knot bun which was worn by great samurai warriors in feudal period Japan. The traditional form of the chonmage involves a clean shaven head on the sides and top. At the top corner of the head, the remaining hair will be oiled and tied.

Interestingly, this particular hairstyle was designed more as a military tactic than a fashion statement. Samurai helmets can be quite unruly that the warriors use their hair to hold their helmets in place especially during battle. Since then, this particular hairstyle becomes a symbol of status during this time. This particular hairstyle is still worn by sumo wrestlers today but it is more closely associated with the feudal period of Japan.

What is interesting as well is the fact that there are modern hairstyles, like the man bun, which were strongly influenced by the chonmage. Instead of shaving the hair, the hair on the sides is just kept short with the top part kept long. Then, the chonmage style will be used to tie up the long hair in place.

Japanese Hairstyles Female

Japanese Hairstyles for long hair

It is common to find Japanese women wearing their hair long and straight. However, since hair can be quite difficult to manage, a lot of Japanese girls wear ponytails with bangs. This makes them look fitter for movement and look neater.

Long layered hair with bangs is one of the most common looks for Japanese women. Some dye their hair medium brown or light gray to give a classier look. For long hair, popular styles also include the braided ponytail and the side braided hair. Updos are also very common like the simple high bun, that makes a woman look efficient and smart. There is also the fancy updo, which is worn for special occasions and events.

What is interesting is the fact that long straight hair is very common for not only Japanese but most Asian women. It is rare to find Japanese wearing their hair in a curly or kinky bob. However, it has been becoming a trend to see women sporting their hair in wavy looks. This wave is often perceived to give a woman a sultry, sexy look. Wavy hair looks classy and highly fashionable.   

Japanese Hairstyles for Short hair

It is also common to see women in Japan wearing short bobs with bangs. The short hairstyle is made to accentuate the smallness of one’s face.  This kind of hairstyle shows innocence and sweetness which is a look most girls are after. However, there are some people who want their hair worn in much funkier styles. Short hair can also be worn with shaggy and uneven layers. This is a total opposite of the cute, sweet girl look. It is also considered lovely for women to wear their hair in their natural black color and cut it up until the chin. It is a look of simplicity and of elegance.

Japanese Hairstyles with Bangs

Almost all of the trendy Japanese hairstyles involve bangs of different kinds. There are bangs which are cut to slightly touch the eye brows. There are full bangs which are cut to give off that “geeky girl” look, which is also quite popular for a lot of young Japanese girls. However, it is more common to see bangs parted to the side.

Bangs on both men and women cover a certain part of the face and it gives off somewhat a mysterious appeal. No one can really explain why the Japanese are quite fond of bangs. However, bangs are common not only in Japan but also in other parts of the world.

For those who wish to have a fringe or bangs, it might be a good idea to think it through as not all face shapes match with bangs. It is best to consult the hair stylist first if a certain kind of fringe will match the face.

Japanese Hairstyles Male 2017

There was a time in Japan’s history when men wore their hair long and tied in a simple ponytail or bun. This was the standard look and was preferred over anything else. There are places not only in Japan but also in some places in the world, where when a man cuts his hair short it is a sign of weakness and shame.

The good thing is that this is not the trend anymore. Men have the option to wear their hair very short, semi-short, or long. There is a multitude of haircuts which are popular in Japan. Although it is much less common, there are some men in Japan who wear their head cleanly shaven. This is common for men who have thinning hair and would rather cut it off entirely. Some wear their hair very short. This is especially popular for students and younger people. There are also some people who still like wearing their hair long.

Thick hair is best for that Asian idol look where the hair is overgrown to the sides and the guy gets bangs. The hair is then cut in a shaggy layer and sometimes colored with browns and blondes. This particular hairstyle is very common for actors, idols, and models.

What is interesting as well is that Japanese men are now more attentive to their hair. There are salons that offer up treatments, hair spas, head massages specifically for men. There are aromas and scents for shampoos and other hair products which are made for guys. It is not anymore taboo to see men caring about their hair, it is already considered good hygiene in fact.

Wacky Hair colors that are trendy for the Japanese

Hair color in Japan is quite popular, especially for the younger generations. It is common to see medium browns, light grays, and the like for business professionals. However, there are certain subcultures like the yanki, the ganguro and the Harajuku where blonde hair is a favorite.

For a lot of the younger members of the Japanese society, using hair color is one of the easiest ways to express one’s self. It may be a form of rebellion or a deviation from the “norms” of society. It also makes them feel edgier and trendier. There are some people who were very loud colors like gray, red, and green. The good thing is that there are now hairstyles which incorporate unusual hair colors but make them look quite classy and great looking. There are others who wear their hair in layered colors called an ombre. There are ongoing trends nowadays that feature “unicorn hairs” or “mermaid hairs” using rainbow colors.

The trend of dying one’s hair became popular after anime and manga characters are seen sporting very loud hair colors. There are greens, oranges, and reds all around. Sometimes, there are even characters that have blue hair colors.

Dying one’s hair became so popular that even young students caught on with the trend. Japanese schools are quite strict when it comes to uniforms that there came a point that the students need to prove that their hair color is natural.