Anyone who has seen the 1984 hit film The Karate Kid — or one of its’ sequels, or the 2010IMG_2310 remake — may recognize this hashioki as a hachimaki, or Japanese headband. Made from a thin cloth or tenugui hand towel, a hachimaki is commonly wrapped around the head just above the eyebrows by laborers or participants in a sport like judo. It helps keep sweat from trickling down the wearer’s face, but is also considered to be a talisman that repels evil spirits and strengthens the spirit.

Hachimaki are often adorned with a slogan or Japanese character, like the kotobuki (congratulations) character that decorates the hashioki in the middle above.

Of course you could also argue that these hashioki are not hachimaki, and that they instead represent the lasso that Buddhist deities use to keep people from straying from the righteous path. I might even suggest that hachimaki evolved from those lassos because I read that hachimaki were originally worn during religious observances. But I can’t substantiate the connection. And anyway, I think these are intended to be hachimaki.


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