Simply put, kanzashi are ornamental hairpins that have been used for traditional Japanese hairstyle.
Originally, kanzashi were considered as charms.
It was believed that magical power was in the small stick of the kanzashi and it could fend off evil spirits when it was put close to the head, which is the most important part of human's body.
Another theory says that kanzashi were used as weapons of self-defense.
However, kanzashi came to be used as hairpins to put hair together with the growing aesthetic sense of women.
It is said that the change of kanzashi made more variations of women's hairdos.
What is more, kanzashi came to have a different aspect with the change.
Other than the tool to put hair together, kanzashi became complete accessories to decorate the hair.
When we see kanzashi today, there are a wide range of materials, shapes, and designs. But they are basically categorized into two big groups.
One is used on the front part of the head and the other is used on the back part of the head.
For the back part of the head, kanzashi are usually used to set hair on top of the head.
They are very practical.
Hirauchi kanzashi (flat type kanzashi) and tama kanzashi (stick type with a small ball) are of this type.
For the front part of the head, kanzashi are used for a different purpose. They are not to arrange the hair but to decorate the hair as pure accessories.
A typical one is flower kanzashi that maiko of Kyoto wear.
Tsumami kanzashi (kanzashi made of silk petals) and bira kanzashi (fluttering or dangling kanzashi) are also of this type.
It is said that today's young people are not interested in traditional Japanese culture.
But they sometimes wear kimono on some traditional events such as wedding ceremony, coming-of-age ceremony, or New Year's day.
We see beautiful kanzashi that decorate the hair on such occasions.
However, today's people don't stick to the old and rigid idea of kanzashi.
In the past, kanzashi were connected with kimono only.
But such notion has changed, especially about the kanzashi that are set on the back part of the head.
This type of kanzashi doesn't look gorgeous. But because of that, they show refined beauty which is unique to Japan.
Today, the modern usage of kanzashi is mixed with the old fashioned style.
One example is the change of coordinates.
People enjoy kanzashi with western style clothes or gowns and it looks very natural.
Along with the change of coordinates, we see many fanciful kanzashi.
People of wider generation enjoy kanzashi as good hair accessories which match various kinds of fashion.
Kanzashi attract many women not only in Japan but also in other countries now.
Kanzashi are beautiful hair ornaments that have been used since the old days in Japan.
Today, women all over the world come to decorate their hair with kanzashi.
Every time when I see it, I am very happy as a Japanese woman and I want to send the refined beauty of Japan to the world as much as I can.