Traditional patterns of tenugui (Hand Towels)No.1 Kamawanu kamaimasu

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“Kamawanu kamaimasu” (we don’t mind! no, we do mind!)

Another very well-known example of “hanjimono” (meanings intentionally hidden in words or pictures) is the pattern named “kamawanu” in Japanese or meaning “we don’t mind!” as shown above. The opposite phrase of “kamawanu” is the traditional pattern called “kamaimasu” in Japanese meaning “yes, we do mind!” These two traditional patterns were once used in costumes of kabuki during a scene where actors were performing an active rampage. We can examine the playfulness of the people living during the Edo period

It is a classical pattern which cleverly combines both pictures and letters. “Kamawanu” meaning “we don’t mind” is the most famous and traditional pattern amongst all “hanjimoji”. This typical riddle couples two Chinese letters “鎌” reading “kama” which means “hook” and “輪” reading “wa” which indicates a “circle”, and together along with the Japanese letter “ぬ” reading “nu”, which will read “kamawanu”. The meaning behind this entire phrase expresses the laid-back spirit and character of the Edo people, “we can cope with anything and we don’t really mind!” This saying was thought up by a kabuki actor, Danjuro Ichikawa (VII) and became very well-known since then. On the other hand, “kamaimasu” meaning “no, we do mind!” was the traditional pattern used for a kimono slip or underwear worn under a kimono by a kabuki actor Omezou Ichikawa I (1781~1833). Let’s see how this saying was originally formed. It uses the picture of the Chinese letter “鎌” reading “kama” which means “hook” and the Japanese letter “ゐ(い)” reading “i” along with a picture of a “masu” symbolizing a box or a grid which together will read, “kamaimasu”. The meaning of this phrase in contrast to “kamawanu” or “we don’t mind” expresses the feeling of people saying “no, we do care and mind!” These two traditional patterns were used for costumes of two kabuki actors when performing a very dynamic turning scene. We can imagine that they were conversing lines, “don’t mind about that!” or “kamawanu” and “no, we should take in mind of that!” or




2014-01-10 | Posted in TENUGUIComments Closed