History of the Twintail Hairstyle (Happy Miku Day!)

Today is Miku day as March 9th can be pronounced as Mi(3) Ku(9)! To celebrate, we will be touching on the history of Hatsune Miku’s iconic “Twintail” hairstyle!

Twintails Day

While we’re celebrating Twintails today for Miku Day, the hairstyle actually has its own day of celebration. Dubbed “Twintail Day” (ツインテールの日), February 2nd was designated by die-hard fans as the day to celebrate all things twintails. People celebrate Twintails Day by taking selfies of themselves with twintails for social media. Artists would post artwork of characters with the hairstyle, usually accompanied by the hashtag #ツインテールの日.

So how did this obsession with the hairstyle happen, and where is it going?

The History Behind the Twintails

Before the word “twintails” were used as they are now, the hairstyle was known as 二つ結い (romaji: futatsu-yui, lit. “two braids/hair tied twice”). “Twintails” is a more recent term that was borrowed from a monster in the Ultraman franchise called “Twintails” because of its twin antennae design. Over time, the hairstyle has come to signify the innocence of the character who sports them. The twintails itself has deeply permeated Japanese culture for years. From the virtual idol Hatsune Miku to idol franchise AKB48 to pop unit Puffy Amiyumi, the twintails has been in Japanese culture for a long time and is considered to be part of the Cool Japan soft power complex along with manga, anime, and so forth.

Originally, the twintails made its formal appearance with the broadcast of the magical girl series, Himitsu no Akko-chan in the 1960s. From there, it slowly began to spread throughout Japanese culture, also making a noted appearance thirty years later with Sailor Moon in 1992. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s when it really entered shared public pop culture consciousness, mostly due to the birth of vocaloid software and virtual idol Hatsune Miku. From there, use of the twintails exploded, even being incorporated as a main concept in anime in the series Gonna Be the Twin-tail! (Ore, twintails ni Narimasu) in 2014.

The Pedigree of the Twintails

People may be surprised at how many types of twintails there are out there. The twintails many think of is where the braids are immediately woven right above the ear, also known as the “Regular” style. There’s also the “Rabbit-Style” that Hatsune Miku sports, where the braids/pigtails look like rabbit ears, which is also known to most twintails fans as the most “orthodox” version of the hairstyle. And finally, the “Country-Style” is where the braids are woven below the ear to give it that straight-downward look.

Notably, the term “twintails” that was borrowed from a monster in Ultraman also had rabbit-like antennae on its head.

The Japan Twintails Association

In 2012, the so-called Japan Twintails Association formally made Twintails Day a thing. They claimed that the proper way to celebrate this holiday (if you’re a guy) is to give the girl of your dreams two hair ties. If she puts her hair up in twintails, then she has reciprocated your burning desire as a fan of them.

The history of the Japan Twintails Association goes back to the 1980s, when twintails became an official concentrated subculture in Japan. While Akko-chan and Dr. Slump, which both had their own TV show at that time, had people interested in characters with the twintail hairstyle, it was Sailor Moon, they say, which was the work that was instrumental in widening the reach of the subculture. Sailor Moon did this because it wasn’t just Usagi, the main character, having her famous odango twintails as a child, but also growing into an adult and still sporting twintails. Apparently, that made these fans froth at the mouth, and the Japan Twintails Association states, “Sailor Moon helped the image of the twintails transition from the innocent child to [having the spirit of] a sensual maiden.”

From then on, they continue, the rest of the 90s and beyond, this more solid idea of the subculture, with idols like Amuro Namie and others who adopted twintails into their looks. 

Fan Favorite Twintail Characters

Every year, a poll named “Twintails Character Rankings” (ツインテールのキャラといえば) is conducted leading up to Twintails Day. Usually this poll is about one’s favorite twintails character, and the results change every year. 2022’s results are out, and once again, this year, the girls from the Love Live franchise took the top spot. One fan who wrote in said, “[Love Live]’s Nico and her Nico-Nico-Nii pose is so recognizable by even non-fans that they know of Nico and her twintails.”

In second place was everyone’s favorite vocaloid diva, Hatsune Miku. This is an especially important poll for Miku as this year is the 15th anniversary of vocaloid software going on sale. Rounding out for third place is the girls from K-On!.

What Do Real Japanese Folks Think of Twintails?

When Renai Japan conducted a poll asking people about their thoughts on the twintail hairstyles, it led to some pretty interesting answers.

Most respondents of the poll, when asked about the “age limit” of the hairdo, replied that “twintails only look good on people under the age of 20”, ruling out the hairstyle on older women.

Many respondents also claimed that “twintails are only popular online and not in real life”. For male respondents surveyed on the streets, only 24% of respondents said they “liked” twintails. Those that “really liked” them came in at 8%, and those who responded that they “didn’t like” twintails at all was an overwhelming 68%.

Surprisingly, when the same poll was conducted online, 52% of netizens claimed that they liked twintails, those that really liked them coming in at 38%, and those that didn’t like them were at a small 12%.

Either the appreciation of twintails is more an “online subculture thing”, or Japanese netizens feel more open in discussing and voting on their “kinks” online. Regardless, we hope you learned a little more about this iconic look and remember that Japan has a whole association that worships this hairstyle. 

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