Various kind of wigs are used in traditional kagura dances or in kabuki plays to represent Shinto gods, demons or mythological animals. Their role is to impress the audience and to suggest fantastical worlds… Wigs were also used in battles by high-ranking samurai who were hoping to scare their enemies by wearing wigs over the kabuto helmets. Similar to the kawari kabuto, they were designed to make the wearer appear larger and scarier… but of course, it is uncertain if they were efficient…
Closer to the modern times, during the Boshin War (1868-1869), the Japanese history records the odd “bear wigs” worn by the Imperial officers… Colored in red, white or black, they were specific to the three main domains supporting the Imperial army: the “red bear” (shaguma) wigs were worn by the Tosa officers, the “white bear” (haguma) were from Chōshū, and the “black bear” (koguma) were officers from Satsuma… Here they are, worn by reenactors during the Kyoto Jidai Matsuri parade. You think they were scary?
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: