Kimono patterns of summer flowers
TRADITION
2020.08.05

Kimono Patterns―20
Summer Plants and Flowers: Refreshing designs from nature

From ancient times, beautiful artistic patterns on kimono have reflected the Japanese people’s delicate senses towards the changing seasons and how social conventions in the country have changed through its history.
This weekly series will take a look at various types of kimono patterns, from those that can be worn year-round to those for special occasions, with a special focus on summer-themed patterns. We will explore the meanings behind the designs as well as insights into styling a kimono attire.

This week we will introduce patterns of summer plants, flowers and nature.

Kimono patterns of summer plants
Ashi (Reed) pattern

In Japan, where the four seasons are clearly distinguished, seasonal blooms, plants, and trees have long been used as patterns for kimono and obi. After the Taisho period (1912-1926), Western flowers were added and the patterns on kimono and obi became even more vibrant and gorgeous.

Here we introduce 4 plant patterns that are perfect for summer.

 

Ashi (Reed)
The pattern of the reed, a plant that grows near water and is similar to Japanese pampas grass, has been popular since ancient times. It has been designed as a pattern with plovers, waves, boats (see article here), egrets, and others.  A combination of reed and goose (kari) motifs is called an ashikari pattern.

<Recommended season for wearing this kimono pattern>
Summer

 

Kimono patterns of summer plants

Hozuki (Chinese lantern plants)
Every year in early summer, hozuki markets are held in many parts of Japan, and even today, during the Obon festival, hozuki branches are displayed as they portray lanterns that guide the spirits said to return from the dead. The obi in the photo depicts how the sheer, mesh-like peel reveals the red fruit inside.

<Recommended season for wearing this kimono pattern>
Summer, Autumn

 

Kimono patterns of summer flowers

Yuri (Lily)
In Christianity, it is customary to offer white lily as a holy flower to the Virgin Mary. Even in Japan, lilies can be found in mythological stories of the Kojiki, and numerous poems in the Man’yoshu. Even today, realistically illustrated lilies can be seen in kimono and obi patterns.

<Recommended season for wearing this kimono pattern>
Summer

 

Kimono patterns of summer plnats

Basho (Japanese banana plants)
The ito-basho, which grows in some parts of Okinawa, can grow up to 4 meters. Its distinctive large leaves are designed into patterns for traditional bingata textile and summer obi. Basho-fu is a summer textile that is woven using fibers of ito-basho.

<Recommended season for wearing this kimono pattern>
Summer

 

Kaku to kisetsu ga hitome de wakaru―Kimono no mon-yo

Kaku to kisetsu ga hitome de wakaru―Kimono no mon-yo
(Kimono Patterns―A guide to their rank and seasons )
Supervised by Kenzo Fujii
(Sekai Bunka Publishing, in Japanese)

Featuring over 300 kimono patterns including the ones introduced in this story, the book helps readers learn about the history and meanings of kimono patterns through a rich variety of photos. Kimono and obi can be categorized into kaku (rank) depending on its material and patterns, and different occasions call for combinations of kimono and obi of the appropriate ranks. A practical and entertaining guide for all kimono lovers,  the book gives useful tips on common confusions related to the ranks and seasonal categorizations of patterns, as well as numerous kimono styling examples.

Available in Japan through Amazon and other online bookstores here. The book can also be ordered at bookstore counters in Japan with no shipping charges (the service may be unavailable at some stores).

 

 

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