“Ohaguro (お歯黒, lit. ‘black teeth’) is the name given in Japan to the custom of blackening one’s teeth with a solution of iron filings and vinegar. Especially popular between the Heian and Edo periods, 10th c. to late 19th century, the opening of the country to Western customs during the Meiji period led to its gradual disappearance. A tradition practiced mainly by women but also some men, it was a practice almost exclusively reserved for the elite – members of aristocracy and the samurai.
Ohaguro was also practiced in Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures, where the teeth blackening was usually done during puberty. It was primarily done to preserve the teeth into old age and was seen as a sign of maturity, beauty, and civilization for the aristocracy and samurai.”– Eli Wirija, photographer and creative director for this story