Japanese boxwood combs are not simply tools for the coiffure but also hair ornaments for women. Combs have an ancient history in Japan. They are depicted on ancient clay tomb figures of the Jomon Period (up to 200 B.C.), and a boxwood comb is referred to in a poem in the Manyoshu. Boxwood combs became objects of luxury; some are beautifully carved and others are decorated with Makie (gold and silver sprinkling). They have been flattered women’s beauty all through the times.
Boxwood combs attract special attention in these days as effective hair care tools, for they don’t produce static electricity, they don’t cause split ends or hair breakage, and their strokes are smooth and gentle.
In Kyoto, the production of boxwood combs started in the Heian period (794-1192). Because softness and gentleness of boxwood are ideal not only to human scalps but also to many traditional handicraft materials, boxwood combs are used as tools for producing wide variety of craft products typical to Kyoto such as Tsuzure-ori (tapestry weaving) in Nishijin and Kyo-dolls.
Taka-shimada is a kind of Shimada-mage, a popular hair style for Japanese women in the Edo period (1603-1868). It is said that Shimada-mage was originally worn by the prostitutes “yujo” of Shimada-juku post station on the Tokaido Road, hence it was named “Shimada.”
Among many variations of Shimada-mage, Taka-shimada emerged in relatively early eras. It was the most prestigious and gorgeous form of Shimada-mage, which was done for formal occasions. The one with the high root was worn by women of the high-ranking samurai families, while the one with low root was worn by daughters of townspeople and geisha.
Bunkin-takashimada has the highest root and the most elegant form. “Bunkin” means Bunkin hairstyle for men. As its decent and elegant impression was favored by women, it came to be done for weddings.
Maru-mage is a round chignon or knot worn by women in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was derived from the katsuyama style in the beginning of the Edo period. In the middle of the Edo period, it was mainly worn by prostitutes called “yujo,” and in the Meiji period (1868-1912), it became the typical hairstyle of married women. In the Meiji period, some variations such as Reebok style or Omits style derived from this hairstyle.
This hairstyle is characterized by a large thick chignon. Younger women did up their hair in larger chignon, while middle-aged women in smaller. To keep the shape of a chignon, hair is wound round a paper frame called a mage-gate.
In the Edo period, it was a custom for engaged or married women to dye their teeth black, shaved eyebrows and did up their hair in Maru-mage. As the hairstyle changed before and after marriage, in theatrical plays performed today, two kinds of hair wigs are usually prepared to express the reality.
Icho-gaeshi was a hairstyle worn by Japanese women in the Edo period (1603-1868). The root of a pony tail is divided into two parts, each of which forms a sidewise 8 shape. The tips of the tail are wound around the root and fastened with a hairpin. As the fan shaped knot resembles the gingko leaf, it was called Icho-gaeshi (literally meaning “a turned-up gingko leaf”).
It was originally worn by young girls aged 12 to 20. Later as geisha and gidayu musicians began to wear their hair in this style, daughters of townspeople, who favored stylish fashion, began to follow their styles. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), it became popular among middle aged women, widows, geisha and entertainers. As it was easy to do up in this style and one did not have to go to a hairdressers’ shop, Icho-gaeshi was the most popular hairstyle up to the early Showa period (1926-1989).
The Ubagataki Waterfall is located on Hakusan Forest Road in Chugu, Hakusan City, Ishikawa Pref. As its water dropping down in many white lines looks like an old woman with disheveled hair, it was named “Ubagataki (old woman’s waterfall).” The height of the waterfall is 76 m. Though not dynamic, it is the only one waterfall in the prefecture that is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. Beside the basin of the waterfall is Oyadani no Yu Hot Spring, which is a natural open-air hot spring with 97℃ water. You can sink your body into this natural outdoor hot spring bath and look up at the waterfall that drops just in front of you. A hot spring freak could not miss the chance.
Taimo brushes (baby-hair brushes) are made from the first hair to be cut from a baby. This means that they can be made only once in a lifetime. They are presented as a special amulet or treasure and represent the wish that a child will grow to be smart, healthy and have good-handwriting (because Japanese was traditionally written with a brush).
Taimo brushes are presented more often than umbilical cords these days to the 'child' at their coming-of-age ceremony or their wedding. It is one good reminder in the world today of the parents' love for their child.
You can order a taimo brush through a calligraphy store or a barbershop, or directly from a brush store. To make a good brush, the length of baby hair needed is about 5-6cm, and the diameter should be the equivalent of an adult pinkie. Even if the hair is frizzy or wavy, it can be straightened in a process called 'hinoshi'.
As for children of other nationalities than Japanese, brushes made with brown or blond hair are possible, too.
Matsue brushes are a speciality of Matsue in Shimane Prefecture, and are also designated as a Traditional Hometown Handicraft. The history of these brushes goes back 400 years, when the brush-making skills of the Old Imperial Palace of Kyoto were adopted in the Edo period (1686). Matsue brushes use various hairs depending on what kind of brush is being made, of which there are over 56 . Sheep, raccoon, or mink hair may be used, and with each, the elasticity and adhesion changes accordingly. The brushes are completed in 10 steps. The botan (peony) style brush, with the tip dyed red and green, is one of the most popular. From normal to special, many brushes are made according to their use, ranging from painting, calligraphy to haiku poetry, or for the occasion, such as the celebration of the birth of a child, where the brush is made from the hair of the newborn baby. Orders can be taken starting from just one brush. Each Matsue brush is made delicately by hand and for ease of use. .
Kaizuka City, Osaka Pref. is said to be the oldest place where the making combs started in Japan. As legend goes, during the reign of the emperor Kinmei (the late 6th Century) a foreigner, who had drifted ashore of the present Kaizuka City, had 8 kinds of comb making tools and taught the local people how to make combs. It is said that in the middle of the Edo period there were more than 500 comb making craftsmen in the area around Kaizuka City. As Izumi comb is made of tsuge (boxwood), it causes less static electricity and less damage to hair, compared with the one made of plastic. The state-of-the-art product is made of Satsuma-tsuge (boxwood that grows in Kagoshima Pref.). Every teeth of Izumi comb is made smooth by hand. The longer you use it, the more attachment you have for its texture and hand feeling. You will comb your hair very smoothly with this comb of excellent workmanship.