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Geisha Culture and Arts for Use at

Amatsu Okiya in Second Life



The purpose of this lesson is for you to learn about the various hair ornamentations that are worn by geisha. By the end of this lesson you should be able to provide a general definition of KANZASHI and give a brief history of the art of hair ornaments. You will also develop an understanding of the basic types of KANZASHI and learn the relationship between the type of KANZASHI and the months of the year.


Kanzashi are hair ornaments used in traditional Japanese hairstyles. They came into being when women adopted more defined hairstyles, giving up long, straight hairstyles. During the Edo period, artisans began to produce more finely crafted products. Some believe Kanzashi may have been used for defense as well.

Today, Kanzashi are worn by many Japanese women and for many reasons…brides, geisha, and special occasions, even young women who wish to add an elegant touch to their business ensemble.

Kanzashi may be made from many different materials, fabric (silk, satin, felt), lacquered wood, gold and silver-plated metal, tortoiseshell, plastic and even paper as you shall see in the assignment part of your lesson. There are many Kanzashi styles and ways to wear them. For instance, the way in which a geisha wears her Kanzashi communicates her status immediately to a well-informed audience based on the type and location of the Kanzashi. Maiko usually wear more numerous and elaborate Kanzashi than older geisha.  


Bira Bira fluttering or dangling style, these have metal strips attached by rings to the body of the ornament so they move independently, pleasantly tinkling, and sometimes adorned by bells or long chains of silk flowers called shidare


Kogaichopsticks style, these are special hairsticks that pull apart in the middle so that they may be more easily inserted into the hairstyle. They are often worn alongside a KUSHI or comb. Originally Japanese men as well as the women wore these. Geisha are not permitted to wear more than one pair at a time.


Kushi comb style, usually rounded combs of lacquered wood or tortoise shell and may have inlaid mother of pearl or gilding. These were most often worn with the mage, or bun-style hairdo. The spine of the comb is wide and often the design extends onto the comb itself. There are also "flower combs" HANAGUSHI where folded pieces of silk are glued to a wooden base comb.


Kanoko Dome – heavily jeweled kanzashi crafted with gold, silver, tortoiseshell, jade, coral, pearls, and other semi-precious stones. The general shape is round, but may be found in other shapes such as flowers or butterflies. This Kanzashi adorns the back of the wareshinobu hairstyle worn by junior maiko. Two prongs hold it securely in the mage

Ogi Princess style, these are metal, fan-shaped and kamon-imprinted with aluminum streamers. The kanzashi was held in place in the hairstyle by a long pin. These are usually worn by maiko in the hair just above the temple. Very junior maiko wear two 


The Hana Kanzashi is the long, fluttering flower hair ornament that is characteristic of maiko. Japanese artisans use squares of silk and a technique known as tsumami where the silk square is folded multiple times using the aid of pincers and cut into the shape of a single petal.

Attached to metal backings, whole flowers are made or strings of silken blossoms are created to grace the maiko’s hairstyles. Butterflies or birds are commonly created in this art form. Geisha wear different Hana Kanzashi according to the month or public holiday. In the summer months (June to September) jade ornaments with white or silver themes are worn. In the winter months (October to May) tortoiseshell and coral kanzashi are worn. 


The seasons dictate the type of hair ornament worn in Japan. Usually this applies to geisha as well as maiko, but most important for maiko as they wear more hair ornamentation then seasoned geisha.

Please use the following link to see and read about the seasonal kanzashi

Make Your Own Paper Kanzashi

Here is your assignment for this lesson - Make your own paper kanzashi in real life! Yes you can do it!!

Try this link:

Paper Kanzashi

or this one

Paper kanzashi kits

Well .... you can try

or try making one in SL


If you just are not "into" crafts too much, then at least try to fold a piece of cloth into one petal and at minimum watch the You Tube Videos! and then treat yourself to a purchased kanzashi in SecondLife!

  You may proceed to next lesson after you have completed the assignment

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