Tsumami-Kanzashi, The Hair Ornament Craftsman’s Passion to Innovate

Japanese Hair Ornaments

Have you ever seen the ornaments used in traditional Japanese hairstyles? Those are called Kanzashi and the ones decorated with flowers are usually called Tsumami-Kanzashi. Edo Tsumami-Kanzashi has decorated the hair and the hearts of Japanese women since the Edo period. It is still used in many occasions and it is an important factor in Kimono dressing. In 1982, it was certified as an official traditional craft from the city of Tokyo. 

The technique used to make the Edo Tsumami-Kanzashi is called the Tsumami Zaiku (Craft)  and we had a chance to talk to Fujii-san from “Tsumami Kanzashi Ayano”. With the motto “Tsumami-Kanzashi in our everyday lives”, Fujii-san creates Tsumami-Kanzashi that even suites the fashion today.

The Tradition and our lives today.

Fujii-san first found her origins as an Tsumami-Kanzashi artist outside of Japan. When she was studying abroad during her university days, she was surprised at herself for not being able to answer a lot of the questions about Japan. That feeling made her want to dig deeply into the Japanese traditional culture and that’s when Tsumami-Kanzashi came into her life.

She first looked into being an apprentice but decided to study independently. As she was creating as an artist, she started thinking deeply into how she can spread the culture. As a result, she started creating earrings and hair bands with Tsumami Craft so the people can enjoy the tradition in their everyday lives. 

Tsumami, meaning to “pinch” in Japanese, you can see where it got its name. Pinching thin silk with a set of tweezers, she creates the flower petals one by one. It almost seems like she’s giving life to the silk as she combines the petals into one beautiful flower. She used silk this time, but creating the same flower from different fabric gives us a whole new impression, making Tsumami Zaiku very interesting.

When she decided to study and train independently, she noticed the traditional master-apprentice system might not fit the society today. That’s why she started the team “Tsumami-Kanzashi Ayano” to work with staffs with diverse lifestyles. The “team members” cooperate with each other to spread the craft and the skills to the world today.

“There are limits to where you can just keep on doing the same things, the same way. What’s really important is that the skills are passed on to the next generation in a way that suites the society.”

Not only was she a skilled craftsman, her passion as a innovator inspired us to keep challenging to new things.


Tsumami Kanzashi Ayano


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