View Full Version : I've been thinking about getting a "Takamakura"

May 4th, 2011, 10:04 PM
A takamakura is a special kind of pillow that geisha use while they sleep on their necks while their hair is in mid air not touching anything.




According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha "Geisha sleep with their necks on small supports (takamakura), instead of pillows, so they could keep their hairstyle perfect. To reinforce this habit, their mentors would pour rice around the base of the support. If the geisha's head rolled off the support while she slept, rice would stick to the pomade in her hair. Even if there are no accidents, a maiko will need her hair styled every week. Many modern geisha use wigs in their professional lives, while maiko use their natural hair. Either must be regularly tended by highly skilled artisans. Traditional hairstyling is a slowly dying art. Over time, the hairstyle can cause balding on the top of the head."

So I've been thinking about buying/making one to baby my hair even more, I have really fragile hair that is already damaged very bad, I think it would be good for my hair to keep it away from rubbing on my pillow every night. I wear my hair in a closed off bun every night, but I still feel like I'm damaging it every night. Maybe I'm taking this too far. But if I find one for cheap, I'll try it and see if I can tolerate it. Or I would love making myself a really nice one, I'm crafty like that, (for me) it looks easy to make :)

May 4th, 2011, 10:14 PM
I'm not sure but I think they're full of buckwheat hulls. If they are, expect that it will be putting more pressure on a smaller area than you are probably used to. Also buckwheat hulls are rather noisy although they do a good job of keeping you cool.

I have shoulder problems and I toss and turn a lot so I have a soba gara makura (buckwheat hull pillow) that I use so I speak from experience.

Again, I have no idea what they're filled with for sure. I had one of those round neck pillows filled with hulls so if it's similar you might have slight pressure pain if you sleep on your ear.

May 4th, 2011, 10:14 PM
It may not work on soft surfaces - if you've noticed, the takamakura are on tatami mats or on the floors. It may not work on a regular bed with a soft surface

May 4th, 2011, 10:14 PM
You must think if it will cause your spine to suffer? It doesn't look very comfortable.

May 4th, 2011, 10:41 PM
I agree with Cocoa Crema, I would definitely do some research to see if it could cause back problems first . . .

I wonder why the geisha hairstyling caused baldness on the top of the head!

May 4th, 2011, 10:50 PM
Why not try and make a satin pillowcase first?

But if you really want to try go for it! I would think it would put a lot of pressure around you neck, might build up tension, etc.

May 4th, 2011, 10:56 PM
Are you a heavy sleeper? If not you will probably end up with broken sleep for a while, which is stressful to the body. And stress is not good for hair. :(

May 4th, 2011, 10:59 PM
Oh gosh...that looks...super uncomfortable, not to mention not very ergonomic!

Have you tried a satin pillowcase or a satin cap or something for your hair? I think this would be more comfy and easier in the long run!

I need to nuzzle my face into my pillow to sleep though, so maybe if you're a solid back sleeper something like this wouldn't be so bad!

May 4th, 2011, 10:59 PM
The one time I slept with my head in that kind of position, I was unable to move for the next two days. Any movement at all caused horrible, crippling spasms in my neck.

I think a silk or satin pillowcase would be better. Any hair-health reward you'd get from a takamakura probably wouldn't be worth the work of laying on it. Plus I can't imagine it would be that stable on a bed, unless you started sleeping on the floor?

May 4th, 2011, 11:10 PM
Yeah perhaps this is too extreme, I KNOW, I can make a thick satin cylinder pillow where some of my hair is away from the pillow without sacrificing comfort. Thanks for the input and ideas everyone. None the less, this is a nice and interesting piece of hair history :)

May 4th, 2011, 11:17 PM
I already have minor neck problems, that will make mine worse. I use a satin pillow case and it works great on minimizing damage. I'm sure a satin/silk cap or something like a satin dress to cover your head or pillow will help :D I just read a thread over satin :)

May 4th, 2011, 11:52 PM
I agree that it could cause neck and back problems... not something I'd risk. Apart from the fact it looks incredibly uncomfortable.

Another vote for a silk satin pillowcase though. :) I toss and turn a lot in my sleep and this really has reduced my detangling time in the morning the most. I always thought cotton was fairly soft, but my hair mats and tangles so much less when I use a silk pillowcase.

May 4th, 2011, 11:58 PM
Not such a bad idea to have this as a topic, I find all things Geisha very interesting :)

It would be quite a romantic idea to sleep on a thin futon on the floor with a Takamura with hair tucked in a bun and causing minimal damage. But I think it would be quite a disaster for the neck :p

May 5th, 2011, 12:44 AM
I wonder why the geisha hairstyling caused baldness on the top of the head!

because their hair is handled very brutal, and there is a lot of strain put on the follicles.
their hair gets pulled on a lot to get it into the required hairstyle.

May 5th, 2011, 02:57 AM
It does look very uncomfortable. Its just hair - don't let yourself suffer for it - but I've enjoyed reading about it I learnt something new today!

May 5th, 2011, 05:46 AM
That is very interesting! Although I'm agreed with the others - I wouldn't want to sleep on it!

My next-door neighbor still has her hair 'set' every Friday afternoon so that it's done for church on Sunday morning. She uses a pillow that is similar to this http://divinesatinhairpillow.com/, It's not exactly the same, but very similar with a satin cover. It protects her hair, and she says that she can't sleep without one now. Might be worth a looksee.

Good luck!

Toad Squalor
May 5th, 2011, 06:28 AM
I wonder why the geisha hairstyling caused baldness on the top of the head!
As said before, the styling process was pretty damaging to the hair due to pulling, twisting, applying of wax to hold the style, etc. Imagine having your hair professionally done in an elaborate updo at least once a week for years, and the teasing, pulling, application of product and tension on the scalp will eventually cause bald spots.

May 5th, 2011, 06:29 AM
I would personally not risk my sleep for anything, hair included, though probably eventually one gets used to it. I think it is not worth it:)

May 5th, 2011, 07:01 AM
According to the book, Memoirs of a Geisha the head rest was horribly uncomfortable. You should start off with a satin or silk pillowcase, I love my satin pillowcase.

May 5th, 2011, 07:36 AM
You don't need that.

All you need is that roll pillow. It will do the job just fine and will be much much better for your neck.
They had to have higher support because their hair was sooooo huge and styled wide at the sides.
You don't need that. Pin your hair on top of your head; put the roll pilow (bigger than the one in picture, you will need at least 6" diameter) under your neck and you will be good as gold. Your hair is not that big so it will work.
It actually is good for your back too to sleep with a neck support like that. :)
And don't forget to make the pillow a silk satin to make it even better.

May 5th, 2011, 07:46 AM
That looks incredibly uncomfortable, and it would probably cause back pain. I can't sleep on my back anyway, but even if I could I'd rather not try this method ;)

Satin pillowcases sound way more appealing!

May 5th, 2011, 08:02 AM
Oh, that looks horribly uncomfortable! You do want to sleep, right? Maybe you could learn to sleep sitting up, unsupported -- it would be easier than sleeping on that thing! (I'm kidding, I'm kidding!)

Get a satin pillowcase or satin sleep bonnet, or silk-satin if you prefer. Your hair will slide over those with minimal friction. I'm a fan of the sleep bonnet myself. It allows me to let my hair loose at night, which my scalp vastly prefers. With a pillowcase, I tend to end up sleeping on top of my hair. Remember that tight hairstyles can also contribute to breakage, not just friction.

elbow chic
May 5th, 2011, 08:05 AM
wow, add me to the "fascinating but SO not for me" camp. I think I'd have preferred to just sleep sitting up if I'd been them. Hard life back then, for practically everyone...

May 5th, 2011, 08:14 AM
That looks like a bad sprain about to happen. :(

May 5th, 2011, 09:13 AM
A Geisha is an artist in the truest sense. They are disciplined and have perfected their art with intense study and practice to reach that level of perfection. Much like the commitment of a ballerina--Not exactly, but I would say they are closely related in that the discipline, practice and rigor. They begin this training while the girls are still very young. I totally get you aren't trying to be a Geisha, OP ;) I'm just saying that the cons seem like they might outweigh the benefit.

I was having a similar issue with my hair and for the last year or a little more, I have been sleeping on a satin pillow exclusively. Rather than my standard Egyptian Cotton sheets. I have noted growth around my halo, it drives me a little bonkers, but at least it is growth and not breakage. If you can sew your own that would be even better--A few bucks and a little time, what's the harm in giving it a try :shrug: I'd also suggest switching your nighttime style, rather than doing this nightly bunning, maybe do a braid or go back and forth between the two. That way you are not doing the same stress on your hair.

May 5th, 2011, 09:21 AM
I thought traditionally these were just a block of wood. The one in the picture you showed at least has a small 'pillow' part on top. I could be wrong though.

May 5th, 2011, 09:49 AM
I thought traditionally these were just a block of wood. The one in the picture you showed at least has a small 'pillow' part on top. I could be wrong though.

The ones I've seen have all had a small pillow. Maybe that's a recent thing?

I second what the others are saying OP. I think it could do a lot of damage to your neck (back also maybe), and I don't think there are enough benefits to justify hurting your health. Sleeping on two pillows is not recommended, so I doubt that type of pillow is better.
A satin pillowcase should help your hair.