Historical hairstyles are increasingly a hot button of interest for people around the world. After-all no outfit is complete without a coordinating hairstyle. Hairstyling has played a major role in fashion throughout all of human history, and Japanese hairstyles throughout history are delightful if not unique to Japanese culture.
In this wonderful video, which was filmed in a shrine in near Kyoto, the 90-year-old Minami Tomiko, one of the few living masters of the art, recreates three intricate hairstyles: Kamome tabo or seagull’s tail, Tōrōbin or lantern locks, and Yoko hyōgo or butterfly. As one of a few living yūsoku hairstylists, Tomiko Minami has the special skills needed to create traditional and historical Japanese hairstyles. Though it requires long years of training for someone to become a successor, she is passing some of her skills along to the next generation. Minami’s grandmother opened a hair salon in Kyoto during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Located in Gion, an old entertainment district, customers of this salon ranged from maiko (young dancers) to women from the upper class. Minami developed her skills over 30 years, training herself while she helped her mother. It wasn’t until she was in her fifties that she created a traditional hairstyle on her own. This was also the first and only time she received a compliment from her mother, who was ill at the time. Those good words have sustained her confidence all these years.
When wearing a Japanese kimono, most often the hair is worn in a style that is up to keep the hair off the kimono. Typically this is to protect the kimono from the natural oils normally present on human hair.