Japanese women's hair, which had been cut in the past and preserved was examined for the presence of 12 elements (Na, K, Mg, Ca, Sr, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Hg, Pb and P). Elevated levels of Fe, Mn, Cu, Pb and Hg (inorganic mercury) were conspicuous in the samples cut in the period 1880-1929 and used as hair pieces (kamoji). The effects of washing on element concentration depended on both the method of washing and the type of element. The least effective was washing with acetone and water, compared with two other methods involving anionic or non-ionic surface active agents. The most resistant elements to washing were Pb, Hg, Cu and Zn. From the intercorrelation of element content and factor analysis, by examining the diminution of contents by washing and by comparing the detected levels with the values measured on contemporary Japanese women's hair, the contribution of exogenous contamination to hair levels was found to be very strong for Fe, Mn, Cu, Hg (inorganic mercury), and Pb, moderate for Na and Zn, and negligible for Ca, Mg, Sr, K, Hg (organic mercury), and P.