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February sees winter leaving and the promise of Spring. This month the main flower is Plum Blossom, the first flower to blossom through the snow. From tiny plum blossoms clustered in the hair of the maiko, to the larger than life representations worn my the senior maiko, the plum blossom or ume is the unrivaled classic kanzashi flower of February. During this month the plum blossom festival or Baikasai festival is held to celebrate these beautiful and hearty flowers. The maiko and geiko of Kamishichiken preform a tea ceremony during this time at the Kitano shrine, a wonderful time to see both the kanzashi and flowers together! Another important calender event for kanzashi is the setsubun festival in which maiko sport unique hairstyles and kanzashi associated with bygone styles, and perform various rituals to help dispel evil spirits.

During the setsubun festival in February some maiko wear special hairstyles and kanzashi such as this 3 piece set with large kusudama kanzashi. Kusudama (薬玉; lit. medicine ball) are decorated balls originating in ancient Japan that originally contained incense or potpourri. Often in bright colors and decorated with geometric designs or covered in plum blossoms, the style is similar to old fashioned well to do towns people's kanzashi, and part of the 'disguise" element of setsubun. I love the playful feel of the maiko kusudama kanzashi as well as it's retro styling.

In recent years there was a trend for pastel colored instead of very bright kusudama which inspired the colors in this set. (the kanzashi set actually has just under 2000 petals in all and took over 20 hours to complete!)

Although I haven't seen photos of the pinwheel kanzashi on maiko in recent years, it is one a few Japanese sites had listed as being worn during setsubun much like the kusudama. Commonly worn during any season by minarai (maiko in training) it's a fun motif usually made in shibori or figured silks.

plum kanzashi

Junior maiko wear kanzashi made up of many tiny plum blossoms in shades of pink, white and red. Sometimes with a row of glittering bira bira, but often with the long flowing falls or shidare.

 

Large single plum blossom kanzashi are a popular and chic choice amongst senior maiko!

A camellia kanzashi made from chirimen crepe (and the first chirimen kanzashi to the site!)

This kanzashi was worn by Maiko Mamehana, and seen in her hair during February. Not a typical motif and perhaps related to her representing the upscale Kazurasei shop and their cosmetics, but an interesting design spotted for February. I love the gentle modern feel of this kanzashi, it seems so like current kimono trends and has an easy unpretentious quality.

Another version of the large camellia seen in the Pontocho hanamachi

More closely resembling french flower making techniques than tsumami style pinching these light plum blossom are a delicate take on this month's classic kanzashi motif. older kanzashi often seemed to feature alternative techniques such as this, and I've always loved the lightness of such maiko kanzashi when ever they show up.

Primary Motifs
Additional Decorations
Plum Blossom Branches
Pinwheel Buds
Kusudama Bush Warbler
Daffodil  
Camellia  
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There's still more to add so check back later!

 

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