Interview: Edo Tsumami Kanzashi

THIS IS an extract of an interview with Kuniko-san from Atelier Kanawa.

DW: What are Edo tsumami kanzashi?

AK: Edo tsumami kanzashi are one of the many types of traditional Japanese hair ornament. Edo is the term for the historical period from 1603-1867 and is also an old name for the city of Tokyo.

The word tsumami means “pinching,” which is the technique used to pinch or pick up a two-dimensional perfect square of silk fabric to construct a three dimensional object. Kanzashi means “hair ornament.”

Edo tsumami kanzashi arose during the Edo period, when the technique of making hana-kanzashi (flowered hair ornaments) worn by apprentice geisha in Kyoto was brought over to the city of Edo. This technique was traditionally utilized by maidservants in the imperial court. Eventually, the style spread all over Japan, as is often depicted in Ukiyoe pictures. Today, the art of Edo tsumami kanzashi is designated a traditional handicraft in Tokyo and Chiba prefecture.

Nowadays, tsumami kanzashi are mainly worn by apprentice geisha, shichi-go-san girls (girls who are turning seven, five, and three years of age), and young ladies attending their Coming of Age ceremony. They are also worn at weddings, in classical Japanese dance, daily fashion, and at oc- casional celebrations such as events to celebrate the beauty of the four seasons.

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