The history of Japanese art is something very old which encompasses a lot of areas such as singing, dance but also jewelry and fashion accessories which are surprisingly not often put in the spotlight when we talk about Japanese craftsmanship. Although the feudal era has been over for several centuries, this does not mean that today's artists and creators deprive themselves of taking inspiration from what was most beautiful in this ancient era to create today's pieces. We can for example cite kinchaku which is still very fashionable today, although in a more modern form, but that does not prevent designers from inventing other new jewelry and fashion accessories that we will go through reviewed in this article.
If you are interested in Japan in any way, you cannot miss the geishas and their very sophisticated hairstyles in which we find what we call kanzashi, traditional ornaments to be tied in the hair . They are in reality the result of thin rods that were attached to the hair in the Jōmon period (-13,000 to - 400 BC) in order to chase away and exorcise evil spirits.
This fine stem thus evolved to no longer have a utilitarian but an ornamental function and from this resulted many different kanzashi , each more beautiful than the other, each being a symbolic jewel .
However, they remain useful for stabilizing complex hairstyles like those of geishas. We therefore find kanzashi of all kinds made in silk, gold, silver but also with other metals with which we often represent the shape of a flower. Here are the kanzashi most commonly found in Japan:
These kanzashi are made of silk and are the type of kanzashi most often found in Japan. Typically, silk is shaped into a flower shape and includes a variety of different colors. There are actually two varieties of kanzashi tsumami :
- the Maru-Tsumami: Kanzashi taking a rather round shape on the ends.
- Ken-Tsumami: Unlike the maru-tsunami, the ken-tsunami has a more pointed shape on its edges.
This type of kanzashi is frequently found in Tokyo because they are made by maiko ( apprentice geisha ) who are all found in the Japanese capital. The particularity of kanzashi hana comes from the fact that their color and design change depending on the seasons of the year. While in winter they will represent more pine, bamboo or plum blossoms. In summer or spring it will tend to be cherry blossoms or even butterflies.
Much more expensive than the two previous kanzashi , kazari kanzashi is made from metals such as gold or silver. They are made by professionals who master the bending of metals and some are real goldsmith pieces.
Much simpler than its counterparts that we presented previously, kanzashi tama can easily be worn every day as an accessory. It very often looks like a long stick with a pellet on the top and a pattern which is most often a flower. This kanzashi is made using the maki-e technique which consists of covering the piece (the kanzashi) with a gold and silver lacquer which gives it a very particular appearance.
Kushi is a rather particular type of kanzashi since it is a rounded or rectangular comb . It is made of lacquered wood on which there are mother-of-pearl or gilding patterns. These combs are generally wide enough to allow for maximum space and to grab as much hair as possible at once.
As mentioned in the introduction, the kinchaku is not new and is one of the many Japanese objects that have evolved with the times without ever being lost. They are very popular in Japan and allow you to carry small accessories such as candy, money, makeup or your lunch in a small bento box . In reality, everyone finds their personal use in storing their bulky belongings to carry by hand. If they are used so much it is mainly because we do not find pockets in traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos or yukatas.
They are made from many materials and come in many designs and colors so they can satisfy all tastes and match any type of outfit.
Extremely popular in Japan, the gamaguchi is a very classic feminine accessory that you will certainly see if you walk around Japan. These were originally purses but over time these have evolved and have now become larger bags that allow you to carry more things. They are slightly more practical to carry than kinchaku and that is why overall they are the type of bag found most frequently in Japan.
You will easily find them in any Japanese clothing store. In addition, in the same way as for gamaguchi you will find them in many different colors.
Shakudo jewelry encompasses a category of jewelry that is coated with a special alloy, called shakudo . The latter is composed of gold and copper (approximately 4% to 10% gold for 90% to 96% copper) and gives a smooth appearance to the jewel with a slightly black and indigo color.
Basically the shakudo was used to accessorize and decorate the samurai katana at the level of the tsuba (the guard at the end of the handle) as well as the kozuka . Following the decline of the samurai, shakudo was reused in the jewelry industry to make decorative ornaments.
If you are planning to acquire traditional Japanese shakudo jewelry , be careful to take good care of it and not soak it in water, otherwise the alloy could lose its color.
Japanese fans are certainly the best-known fashion accessories internationally. They are mostly made from wood and fabric and also exist in a very wide variety of colors and styles. There are three main types of fans which all go well with small jewelry around the neck or arm like this natural tiger's eye bracelet .
It is very likely that uchiwa fans originated in China, but they are very often associated with Japan because that is mainly where they developed. Unlike the image of fans that we generally have, Uchiwa fans do not close. They are in fact made up of a bamboo stick and have a round-shaped canvas which is intended to create wind. They have the advantage of being more solid and are often made of silk, at the time this was the type of fan that was used most frequently at the Imperial Court.
The so-called sensu fan is the most popular, it is the folding fan which generally ranges from 20 cm for women to 24 cm for men. It is also made from bamboo and the canvas is generally made from washi paper. However, in the past the fan was once a status symbol and for those with the highest status their fan could be made of cypress wood and silk for the canvas.
Much less common, chasen fans are smaller and are mainly used during the tea ceremony. It was also formerly used to apologize or show respect to someone during a bow.
Tekagami are pocket mirrors that can be used to put on makeup during the day; they fit easily into a kinchaku or gamaguchi . They are most covered in lacquer and come with different patterns and designs to suit everyone's tastes.