Chigomage (hair-style for kids) (稚児髷)

Chigomage (also pronounced "chigowage") is a form of hair which was worn by boys from the Heian period to the Azuchi-Momoyama period, and also the similar hairstyle for girls which dates from the Edo period. It is also called Chigowa, Karawa, and Karakomage.

The way of dressing the hair

Common feature
Bind the hair together at the top of the head and divide it into right and left, then make a loop with each of them tying their ends to the root of the ponytail; and finally the root is covered with broad takenaga (paper strip used as a hair ornament).

Hairstyle for boys
The forelocks are not puffed out and divided into right and left halves. Sakayaki (shaved part of the forehead) is shaved in the same way as Sumi-maegami (boys' hairstyle with cornered forelocks).

Chigomage originated as the hairstyle for chigo (child in a Buddhist possession) in major temples during the Heian period, and later became commonly accepted as the hairstyle for boys of Imperial or noble family in the Heian period. After the Edo period, it is rarely seen except for in the Imperial Family. Today it is only seen in very limited Kabuki Buyo (Kabuki Dance) and festivals.

Hairstyle for girls
Since the Edo period chigomage became girls' hairstyle. Although mage (a chignon) itself is almost the same as in boys' hairstyle, the most distinctive feature of girls' hair is that the forelocks are widely brought up from above the outer ends of the eyebrows (there are also many cases in which a small mage is worn at the top of the bobbed hair, and for very young girls sometimes the forelocks were not brought up). Originally no hair ornaments were used for chigomage, but from the beginning of the Taisho period people began to ornament it with hana-kanzashi (flower ornament) and so on. When girls between 10 and 19 years old wear chigomage, it often becomes similar to Momoware (literally, split peach; female hair style in kimono that the bun is split and a red fabric woven in the center) or Ichogaeshi (the hair done up in a bun shaped like two leaves of the ginkgo tree).

This hairstyle was worn by the girls called 'Okosho' (it is different from child servants of samurai family called "Kosho," who paged to daimyo [Japanese feudal lord] and so on), who was aged between five or six and 12 years old and attended on a daughter of a high-ranking samurai or a court noble. Because it is easy to do the hair in chigomage and it is a traditional, cute and refined hairstyle; from the Meiji period to prewar days in the Showa period some kindergartens and elementary schools (so-called "Ojosama gakko," schools for rich young ladies) adopted chigomage and purple hakama (pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes) as their regulation uniform (students of junior high school or above wore swept-back hair with the bun at the back of the head). Even now chigomage is sometimes worn by girls when they take part in Shichi-go-san (a day of prayer for the healthy growth of young children) events, Jusan Mairi (a visit to a shrine or temple to celebrate being 13 years old), festivals and so on (however, today gaily dressed girls mainly wear Yuiwata [hair style like cotton wrapped up] or Katsuyama-mage [hair style with combs and pins], so that chigomage is not to be seen very often).

Festivals and so on in which chigomage is to be seen
Today chigomage is not to be seen very often. Festivals, dance performances and so on in which it can be seen are as follows.
(Boys' hairstyle)

Kabuki Buyo (Kabuki dance, a traditional form of Japanese theater) and so on
Gojobashi (Gojo-bashi Bridge) (nagauta [long epic song with shamisen accompaniment])
Hashi Benkei (Benkei on the bridge) (nagauta)
Hina no Yoi (Evening of the Girls' Festival) (nagauta)
Warabe Uguisu (Children and the Nightingale) (nagauta)
Festivals and so on
April: Genji Festival (Kawanishi City)
Early April: Hamura Spring Festival (Hamura City)
April 19-20: Furukawa-matsuri Festival (Hida City)
May 3: Festival of Late Emperor at Akama Jingu Shrine (Shimonoseki City)
June 14: Sumiyoshi no Otaue (the rice planting ceremony of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine) at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine (Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka City; girls wearing their hair in boys' style)
Late July: Human Jumbo tiers stand at Iwatsuki Festival (Iwatsuki Ward, Saitama City)
Late July: Haramachi Gion Festival (Higashiagatsuma Town)
Early August: Nakanojo Gion Festival (Nakanojo Town)
Early September: Ise machi Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival in Ise Town) (Nakanojo town)
The 4th Monday of September: Kushi Matsuri (Comb Festival) at Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine (Kyoto City)

[Original Japanese]