The chonmage dates back over 400 years, to the age of the samurai. This traditional Japanese hairstyle was typically sported by the samurai warriors and sumo wrestlers alike.

In the Japanese society of that time (the Edo period), this haircut was seen as a symbol of prowess and certainly attested to the social status and equal ferocity of the wearer. It also served the practical purpose of holding the samurai helmet in place during battle.

The traditional chonmage was definitely a style of practicality rather than fashion, with the top of the head almost completely shaved, leaving the remaining back section to be tied and knotted.

The more modern day chonmage as worn by sumo wrestlers features the more basic oiling and knotting of the top hair section in a dual purpose nod of symbolism to the warrior history and practicality of holding up the hair during combat.

On to the modern day and the chonmage has again experienced somewhat of a rebirth. This time in the form of the divisive Man Bun hairstyle which emerged around 2010 and has remained in much debated fashion with some modern day laymen and warriors alike.

There are various styles of the modern day chonmage that are still very popular and attractive to boot. If today’s man fancies a radical change from the usual styles, here are a few Chonmage styles which will help him stand out.


Mohawk Chonmage

Certainly one of the most dramatic and contrasting styles of chonmage, combining the shaved sides and top flat Mohawk with the distinctive back knot. This style is eye-catching indeed and very easy to maintain. It will most definitely become a talking point in your office.

Ponytail Chonmage

One of the most unique haircuts, this look can be extremely elegant on the eye and project a soothing image of calm along with sophistication and abundant confidence of self. With the top gently knotted around allowing the remaining hair to fall down the back into a ponytail.

Chonmage with beard

To shake up the traditional style even more, you could add a beard into the mix. This provides for a rugged forester type look but also portrays someone who is peaceful, strong and in touch with their inner-self. In this case, it is quite all-or-nothing in the sense of portraying a deep image the beard depth and length must be proportionate to the power symbolized by the chomage. No half measures here!

Chonmage with braids

A daring choice indeed, but can work spectacularly well if worn with confidence. Braiding both sides of the hair parallel to the top knot which sits in-between. It certainly would not make for an easy maintenance task, but it creates a very defining and soulful image.

Wanna try it?

So with a long and illustrious history and more than one renaissance in popularity, the chonmage is a daring and brave but rewarding choice which can project power, wisdom and tranquility. However, it’s certainly knot a choice for the unadventurous. 


Anthony Gallagher

Anthony Gallagher

Based in Seoul, South Korea, Anthony is a freelance writer and self-professed hair enthusiast. He attends like clock work for a bi-weekly haircut and complimentary ear waxing at his local one woman barber shop.
Anthony Gallagher