How to make a Japanese headband

Written by marilla mulwane
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How to make a Japanese headband
Hachimaki headbands can be plain or decorated with kanji symbols. (Getty Creative)

Japanese headbands, called hachimaki, are worn over the forehead and tied behind the head. They have symbols and designs on the front. While they are frequently worn by people who study martial arts (think Daniel in "The Karate Kid" movies), anyone can wear the headbands to show determination and perseverance. Hachimaki headbands were worn by kamikaze pilots with the symbol of the Rising Sun and the kanji for the "Divine Wind." To make a hachimaki, paint symbols on a strip of 100-percent cotton material.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • White or red cotton material
  • Scissors
  • Bin bag
  • Yard stick
  • Pencil
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Lay the material out flat on a work surface. Measure the headband with the yard stick to 90 cm (36 inches) long by 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) wide. Use the pencil to mark the measurements, if necessary. Cut out the headband with the scissors.

  2. 2

    Place a plastic bin bag on the work surface and rest the headband on the bag. The bag will keep the paint from sticking to the work surface.

  3. 3

    Find centre of the headband using the yard stick. Place the yardstick lengthwise across the headband. Mark centre with the pencil. This is where the first symbol goes.

  4. 4

    Draw a rough sketch of the symbol using the pencil. Do not press hard with the pencil -- just draw lightly enough to see the design.

  5. 5

    Paint the design using the fabric paints. Squeeze the paint on the design and then spread the paint with the paintbrush. Use the pencil lines as a guide.

  6. 6

    Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to paint a second and third symbol on the right and left of the centre design, if desired.

  7. 7

    Let the headband dry according to the directions of the fabric paint bottle. It usually takes 24 hours for the paint to dry and 72 hours for it to cure.

Tips and warnings

  • Some traditional hachimaki symbols are the Rising Sun, the kanji symbol for "victory" and dragons.
  • Use stencils if you don't feel you have hand drawing skills.
  • Wash the headband once before wearing to remove any pencil that shows. Use warm water and a small amount of washing powder.

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