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Martial Arts Headband
aka: Hachimaki

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Traditional headgear worn in Japan, known as hachimaki, is a strip of cloth tied around the head. Think Daniel-san from The Karate Kid. It is often decorated with a written slogan (frequently Nippon Ichi, "No. 1 in Japan"), serving as a sort of tee shirt for the forehead. Commonly worn by warriors, protestors, students studying for exams, or anyone who needs to keep sweat from dripping into their eyes be serious and focused on something. Or by drunk salarymen (see Necktie Headband).

The act of putting one on is generally used as an expression of willpower and a change in mood, not unlike Let's Get Dangerous!, but it doesn't have to involve violence. Donning a headband with a slogan or motto relevant to your training before undergoing Training from Hell is generally the straight use. It occasionally sees Mundane Made Awesome moments, however, in being used to "pump up" a character's willpower before significantly more mundane things, like scrubbing out one's stinky toilet.

Though somewhat more direct and symbolic, as a gesture, its use mostly mirrors rolling up one's sleeves, or adjusting a helmet / roguishly tilting one's hat for a more martial context. It projects a daring "I got this, bring it on" attitude of emotional readiness and determination to tackle a challenge head-on (while the drunken version looks just like any other misguided attempt at inebriated machismo via inappropriate undressing).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Millennium Earl wears one at one point in D.Gray-Man as he prepares to do Road Noah's homework for her. The result is a mixture of funny and creepy, especially given the Earl is the Big Bad of the series.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Worn by Onizuka when he's studying for a test. The slogan is, "I will pass the test".
  • Planetes: One character is actually nicknamed "Hachimaki", because he wears a plain white headband under his helmet on EVA missions. (Also because his given name is "Hachirota".)
  • Naruto:
    • All ninja candidates are given headbands with the village's symbol carved into the metal forehead guard when they graduate the academy and become genin. Most of them continue to wear their headbands even after they become chunin, although many wear it in places other than their heads. For some examples, Kakashi uses his as an Eyepatch of Power, Sakura wears hers as a hairband, and Hinata wears hers as a necklace.
    • A scar across the village symbol of the hitai'ate indicates the wearer has chosen to abandon their village permanently, notably done by all members of Akatsuki. Zabuza never scarred his, as he intended to return (and take over).
  • Azumanga Daioh: In the last Sports Fest, Sakaki starts out wearing a headband. But when her friend and classmate Chiyo-chan is taunted about her running, Sakaki takes it to the next level: she ties her hair back with her headband before taking the racing baton.
    • Azumanga Daioh also uses it in the festival in the last school year, where Kagura, Tomo and Sakaki dress as punks with these on.
  • Takako Ayase in Midori Days wears a headband titled "Definite Victory" as she reviews her latest plan to become Seiji Sawamura's girlfriend.
  • In Bleach, Urahara told Ichigo to wear a hachimaki and yell an embarrassing chant "Take this! The Power of Justice! Justice Armor, Justice Hachimaki! Equip!"note  to stand a chance on fighting his dangerous sparring partner that could kill him in one blow. He did so, but found out that he's just being had by Urahara.
    • It even shows up in the filler arc, having been equipped with a sensor allowing Ichigo to locate the Bount — and still requires the chant to activate. Rukia is naturally confused with Ichigo's reaction to it.
    • An earlier episode has Keigo Asano offer Ichigo a pair of geeky glasses and a "complimentary nerd headband" to wear after Keigo finds out that Ichigo ranks much higher than Keigo expected, academically. Ichigo punched him in the face through the glasses.
  • In the Yukina arc of YuYu Hakusho, Kuwabara infrequently wears a pink hachimaki that says something to the tune of "I ♥ Snow Girl"
  • Wilder and Cancer in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce wear one each. In one episode, Cancer's hachimaki was a blindfold.
  • Subaru of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS wears one that's tied with a bow as part of her barrier Jacket, in a Shout-Out to Gunbuster. Nove once refers to her as "the girl with the headband."
  • Gunbuster: Noriko's long headband is almost as iconic as the Badass Arm-Fold she always does before awesome stuff happens.
  • Yoshiko Fujisawa made hachimakis for all her Furano teammates in Captain Tsubasa, and they wore them during the match against Nankatsu. When their captain Hikaru Matsuyama entered the National Team, he always put his hachimaki on during his more crucial moments.
  • In Afro Samurai, the Hakimachi is Serious Business, as the "Number One" headband supposedly confers the power of a God, and wars have been fought over it. (Afro himself is a constant assassination target due to wearing the "Number Two" headband that confers him the right to challenge "Number One".)
  • Sailor Moon's Makoto used this to psych herself up for the daunting task of cleaning Motoki's room.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Platinum would take off her beanie and put on a hachimaki when training for her next Gym battle.
    • Earlier, all of Gold's Pokémon put one on when they faced The Mask Of Ice during the finale of the Gold/Silver/Crystal arc, a reference to the Focus Band item of the games.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou OAV episode "Omoi no Arika" Kotengu sports a hachimaki when waiting for Yasuaki, whom he supposedly challenged to a duel. When Yasuaki doesn't arrive in time, Kotengu gets angry and his Cross-Popping Veins cause the hachimaki to get torn in half and fall off.
  • Leorio does this in Hunter × Hunter while studying for the final exam. It's then revealed that he put cheat sheets on the back of it. And everywhere else in his clothes.
  • In later seasons of Ranma ½, Akane Tendo took to wearing one of as part of her martial arts outfit.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka can be seen wearing one while she's at Cram School.
  • Domon Kasshu of Mobile Fighter G Gundam sports a red one.
  • In the My-Otome manga, Shizuru wonders where her Dark Hime is, and imagines a version of her Psycho Lesbian MaiHime incarnation wearing a "Natsuki Love" headband. Takeda, who makes a cameo coming to Garderobe to get pictures of Natsuki, has a similar headband.
  • Gintama: Being part of Otsuu's fanclub means having to wear the uniform which includes a white hachimaki with a pink heart and Otsuu's name on it.
  • Haikyuu!!:
    • Shimada, Takinoue and their cheer squad are fond of wearing red hachimaki that say "certain victory Karasuno" to the protagonist team's matches, along with happi coats to complete the traditional cheerleading look.
    • The members of the Tsubakihara team wear yellow hachimaki headbands, which suit their blue and yellow uniforms, when they play at Nationals. The headbands also has their school name written on them, but this detail is ommited in the anime adaptation.
  • A trademark item for Souma Yukihira in Food Wars! He keeps it wrapped around his forearm most of the time and tied around his head when he starts cooking.

    Comic Books 
  • Dirty Pair: Kei wore this kind of headband (though only in Biohazards and A Plague of Angels). In the anime version, she wore a slightly different kind of headband (it was wider, had shorter trailing ends, and was usually turned sideways).
  • Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu from Marvel Comics, is often depicted wearing one. Since he is not a main character and does not have a traditional costume, it depends on the artist, more often than not.
  • Robin (1993): Jaeger wears a personalized hachimaki in his earlier appearances. His later mask is taller and there is a targeting element on the forehead of it which imitates his earlier headband.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Castle Hangnail, the hypochondriac goldfish (who wears a sweater to ward off chills) has a Let's Get Dangerous! moment when her best friend is in danger. Preparing to swim through a stretch of cold and murky water to the rescue, she tears off a strip from her sweater and fashions it into a headband.
  • Maudlin of Garry Kilworth's Welkin Weasels: Heastward Ho! borrows a red headband with a phrase written in "Asian" letters on it when battling a pirate junk. He's very fond of the headband and assumes in his usual daydreamy manner that "No doubt it read something like GREAT WARRIOR or UNDEFEATABLE ONE". Nobody has the heart to tell him it actually reads "Number One Stir-Fry Chef".
  • In the middle of Rats, Bats and Vats, at least one of the bats dons one of these. They later complain about how it fell over their eyes.
  • Discworld:
    • When the Dean starts getting gung-ho in Reaper Man, he tears a strip off his robe and makes a headband.
    • Magrat wears one when practising martial arts in Witches Abroad, but people keep confusing it for a bandage.
    • Parodied later on in Maskerade, when the Librarian decides that it's time for some dramatic organ music to support the action: he takes off his bow tie and ties it around his head so that he looks like a "really formal kamikaze".
    • On one cover of Pyramids, main character Pteppic, an Assassin, is inexplicably wearing one. Not one of the worst examples of Covers Always Lie, but still...odd. (The Assassins only wear black; the headband isn't.) Presumably the illustrator was a bit confused about the difference between Assassins and Ninjas.
  • In The Wheel of Time many male Aiel loyal to Rand wear a red headband with a yin-yang symbol on their foreheads. His Maidens of the Spear think this is ridiculous.

    Live Action TV 
  • During Top Gear's Japanese episode, Jeremy Clarkson wore one when he was racing the Bullet train in the new Nissan GTR.
    • Clarkson's headband does not read "kamikaze" as seems to be implied, but 闘魂"toukon" (fighting spirit). He also initially puts it on upside down, but a few minutes later it seems to have fixed itself.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in the episode "Rivals", had a scene where Miles O'Brien was psyching himself up for a charity racquetball match against Bashir, who stomped him when they first played. Keiko, who throughout the episode took on an air of mild amusement regarding the whole thing, sent him off to the match by wrapping a silk scarf scented with her perfume around his head, kissing him soundly and whispering, "Kick his butt."
  • Parodied by Clive the Bermudan temp in Garth Marenghis Darkplace before losing a fight with a toolbox.
  • Cobra Kai sees the return of Karate Kid's Johnny Lawrence, complete with his signature black headband. It even gets a backstory of its own, being a present that Ali Mills (Johnny's ex-girlfriend from the Karate Kid film) gave him. Actor William Zabka explains Johnny's entire mindset changes when he puts his headband on, although he is mocked for it a couple of times during the series. Daniel Larusso's iconic Okinawan flower Headband also makes a return.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Jason and Tommy occasionally wore red and green headbands. When the Rangers were granted new Ninja powers they gained new costumes that came with head bands as part of the ceremony.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sho Funaki on Smackdown during his Kung Fu gimmick. So Kung Fu's Chinese but Funaki is Japanese.
  • WWE's Zack Ryder wears two when going to down to the ring and, in the style of Bret Hart and his shades, will often give one of his headbands to a member of the audience.
  • SCW Florida's DTW Ninja. Chasyn Rance also wears a headband but (seemingly) without any Japanese allusions. He likely got it from his student/rival/partner Santana Garrett, for who it may be more of a new age thing: Peace, Love And Headband of Power!

    Video Games 
  • A rare Chinese example, Jann Lee the Bruce Lee Clone of the Dead or Alive series, wears this in DOA ++ and subsequent games with a more urban streetwear ensemble, which stands out among his Bruce Lee-inspired Kung Fu uniforms, Black and Yellow tracksuits and fancy business suits.
  • Worn by the main character of the Virtua Fighter series, Akira Yuki, a martial artist who specializes in the Bajiquan style of Kung Fu. Although his martial art is Chinese, Akira himself is Japanese. Originally he uses a white headband to go along his white gi, but his headbands tend to change depending on his different costumes. His newer main costume has him sporting a red headband, and other variations include black or blue.
  • Worn by many characters in The King of Fighters. One of the special teams in KOF '98 is actually called the "Headband Team": Goro Daimon, Joe Higashi and Yuri Sakazaki. Yuri's headband lacks the Japanese red sun, though (hers is entirely red), and the team's ending artwork shows the other two forcing a proper hachimaki on her.
    • One notable example is Kyo Kusanagi. At first, when he was a high-schooler, he wore a white headband, and when the series transitioned from the Orochi to the NESTS arc, one of the signs of Kyo's Character Development was the change of threads - which meant the headband had to go too. In his KOF 99 first round intro, he even takes the headband off his head and burns it in his hand. It eventually returns as of KOF XV.
  • Lannote , the human hero of Mega Man Battle Network, wears a headband with Mega Man's Navi symbol (also the series logo) on it.
    • Just about everyone in the Mega Man Battle Network series seems to have their Navi symbol somewhere on themselves, either on their shirt, as their earrings, or even as their hairpins. As for someone else who also has something resembling a hairband, the nature-loving Salnote  has a brown hairband with Woodman's Navi symbol.
  • The Hachimaki appears as a recurring item in the Super Robot Wars series of games. A pilot with the item equipped starts each mission with 5 bonus morale. There's also a Nejiri-Hachimaki, or twisted headband, which gives double the bonus.
  • Ayane of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden sports one that is just a few shades darker purple than her hair, and almost never takes it off no matter what she's wearing. Hitomi also wears a martial arts headband as part of her karate gi outfit.
  • Shing!: Tetsuo ears a hachimaki as part of his attire, presumably, like with real life swordsman, to keep his hair out of his face while he fights.
  • Ryu of Street Fighter has his trademark flowing headband (originally white and became red in Street Fighter II; the red one was a memento from Ken after he tore it off his hair during a sparring match). Unsurprisingly, resident Ryu Fangirl Sakura also wears one.
    • Also, Alex from the III series. Makoto of Third Strike wears one around her neck, making it more of a Scarf of Asskicking.
  • Mach Breaker: Makoto Kotobuki sports one as her Numan Athletics outfit.
  • In Metal Gear, this is Solid Snake's trademark. (And his dad's.)
  • The Choice Band and Focus Band in Pokémon are often drawn as such.
    • Some trainer NPCs also wear these.
    • Additionally, the male protagonist in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions wears a headband. Unfortunately, the manga makes it out to be some sort of beanie, while the game art makes it pretty clear it's a headband.
      • Since Game Freak has basically done a Shrug of God and only confirmed it's a headband, Ruby (of Pokémon Adventures) has a hat due to the artist thinking of it as so. Another one volume manga by another artist had it as a hat too, probably a Follow the Leader case.
    • Ruby of Pocket Monsters plays this straight like his game counterpart.
  • Sanada Yukimura from Sengoku Basara wears a red one. In the anime it comes in handy when, during the all-important Final Battle, Yukimura's rival Masamune is injured and can barely stand. Yukimura ties Masamune's hand to his sword with the headband in preparation for their last strike.
  • If you're going to list Sanada Yukimura from Sengoku Basara you might as well list the one from Samurai Warriors. His is decorated with the crest of the Sanada Clan.
  • Axel and Blaze from Streets of Rage both wear headbands while beating up countless goons with their bare fists (or rather, their bare knucklesnote . Blaze ditches hers for the sequels, though.
  • Team Fortress 2 has two Hachimakis. The first of which was a tie-in with Homefront. The second one was part of the Japanese bundle, where the sales from the item were donated to help with the Japanese relief efforts.
  • Richter Belmont from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood wears one, along with vaguely Asian looking clothes. He's — not surprisingly — called "Ryu Belmont" by the fans.
  • Kirby wears a red one when he gets the Fighter Copy ability, and a blue one when he gets the Throw/Suplex Copy ability.
  • Worms about to use a Fireball or Fire Punch (and sometimes the Kamikaze) will don a red one.
  • Endou in Inazuma Eleven wears an orange one. His grandfather also wore an identical one.
  • Kung Fu Man, the original character that comes with M.U.G.E.N. He wears a blue headband.
  • Members of the Martial Arts Club, including potentially Ayano, wear this in Yandere Simulator.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the protagonist of the second generation, Seliph, wears a pure white headband. The Light Inheritors manga, an adaptation of the plot of the second generation of the game, has Seliph without the headband while he lives quietly, hiding from the Loptrian Empire that is hunting him, while underneath the protection of his Parental Substitutes Oifey and Shannan. He dons it after resolving that he'll take the fight to the Empire directly, and grow strong enough that he won't need to be protected anymore.
  • Mortal Kombat:


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Proponents of the classical kenjutsu school of Kashima Shinto Ryuu don distinctive white hachimaki. as part of their opening 作法 (etiquette/ceremony) before engaging in kata practice.
  • An iconic real-life use of this trope was in the fighter pilots of Japan during World War II, when they wore bandanas bearing the word "Kamikaze" upon them, which up until that point, had been a reference to the "Divine Wind" that drove off the Mongol invasion of Japan centuries earlier.
  • Experienced Muay Thai fighters wear the Mongkon, a headgear designed to mark a veteran fighter with a solid understanding of the art, although they have to remove it before the match.

Alternative Title(s): Japanese Headband, Hachimaki