Marumage (rounded hair style of a married woman) (丸髷)

Marumage is the most representative hairstyle (Japanese coiffure) for married women from the Edo period to the Meiji period.

It is a variation on Katsuyama-mage (hair style with combs and pins) that was all the fashion early in the Edo period. It seems that the regular form of 'marumage' first appeared around the Bunka-Bunsei period. At the end of the Edo period, it began to be kept in shape by putting the base of Japanese paper inside mage (a chignon).


Although this mage is done up in almost the same way with katsuyama-mage, its loop of mage became thicker and wider so that it looks like a ball rather than a loop. The difference in size of mage shows the age difference (the younger, the bigger mage).

Today it is generally distinguished from katsuyama-mage by inserting a cloth under mage.

This mage had been worn since the later Edo period in eastern Japan centering on Edo (on the other hand, in western Japan centering on Kamigata [Kyoto and Osaka area], 'Sakko' [a variation of Shimada-mage with the remaining hair arranged with a stick called "kogai"] and 'Ryowa' [two mage are made and fixed with a stick called "kogai" with the remaining hair rolled up] had been worn; according to "Morisada Manko" [a kind of encyclopedia of folkways and other affairs in the Edo period] by Morisada KITAGAWA, a certain village in present-day Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture was the boundary between west and east: the region where married women wore 'sakko' or 'ryowa,' and the region where they wore 'marumage') and since the Meiji period it spread to the whole country and became common hairstyle; at the end of the Meiji period, a variety of 'marumagegata' (magegata [a paper frame which is wound round with hair to keep the shape of a chignon] for marumage), such as 'Ryogoku (両国) style,' 'Oimatsu style' and so on, went on sale to cover all tastes for the shape of mage.

Because women wear shimada-mage when they are single and marumage after their marriage, the heroine of the opera 'Madama Butterfly' has to change her hairstyle during the performance if she is to be faithful to Japanese customs (the heroine who was geisha [Japanese professional female entertainer at drinking party] in Nagasaki gets married at the beginning of the play); so that two kinds of wigs are sometimes prepared.

Festivals and so on in which marumage is to be seen
Today young girls' hairstyles such as shimada-mage, momoware (literally, split peach; female hair style in kimono that the bun is split and a red fabric woven in the center) and so on can be often seen at the weddings, programs of dance performances by students, Jidai Gyoretsu (a procession of people in historical costumes) in festivals and so on, but married women's hairstyles such as marumage, sakko, ryowa and so on are seldom to be seen except for in Kabuki (traditional performing art), Bunraku (Japanese puppet theater) and period dramas. Festivals and so on in which marumage is to be seen are as follows.

February 1: Toshi iwai (a celebration which is held when one reaches the certain ages) ceremony at Takanosu-jinja Shrine (Kita-Akita City)
February 9: Toshi iwai ceremony (Odate City)
February 11: Mizukake Water Festival (Ichinoseki City)
February 11: Neriko Festival (Sumoto City)
April 17: Marumage Festival (Himi City) (in which unmarried women participate wearing marumage)
May 3: Yomemi Festival (brides' festival) (Konan City)
July 14: Ofudamaki (to strew the paper charm) event (Totsuka Ward, Yokohama City) (in which men dress up as women and the caller of dance songs wears marumage wig)
July 22 - 24: Tajima Gionsai Festival (Minami Aizu Town)
The 4th Monday of September: Kushi Matsuri (Comb Festival) at Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine (Kyoto City)

[Original Japanese]