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. We will explore the meanings behind the designs as well as insights into styling a kimono attire.
Continuing from Parts 26 – 28, here are some more patterns that reflect the changing seasons.
Fukiyose, which refers to a medley of diverse objects, has been used in a variety of picturesque patterns since ancient times.
In the case of kimono, the pattern depicts an assortment of leaves and flowers from various trees, blown by the wind and gathered together. The leaves are limited to those from autumnal plants such as momiji leaves, pine needles <see article here>, pine cones, and ginkgo, but in modern times, bamboo grasses <see here>, chrysanthemums <see here>, and cherry blossoms are also used in order for kimono to be worn in different seasons.
The word fukiyose is also used in the names of musical compositions, or cuisine―such as in the name of appetizers, platters of nimono (stewed dish), and also higashi (dried confectionery) . No matter the usage, the word conveys a distinctively Japanese feel.
Fukiyose-mon (Fukiyose pattern)
Fukiyose, which depicts a pattern of various fallen leaves and flowers gathered on the ground by the wind, can be used in any season at present. However, due to the connotation of fallen leaves, kimono and obi with this pattern are often worn in the autumn season. There are some types designed with Japanese apricot blossoms and cherry blossoms, so one can enjoy choosing the seasonal feels the patterns convey, which is a unique pleasure of wearing a kimono.
There are several standard patterns of fallen leaves, although the types of leaves are depicted freely. Pine needles and pine cones represent good fortune. The ginkgo tree is often venerated on shrine grounds as a sacred tree of longevity. In addition, autumn momiji leaves and kaji (paper mulberry) leaves are added to this pattern.
Fukiyose patterns are now mainly used in semi-formal kimono and dyed obi.
<Recommended season for wearing this kimono pattern>
Kaku to kisetsu ga hitome de wakaru―Kimono no mon-yo
(Kimono Patterns―A guide to their rank and seasons )
All-color Revised Edition on sale March 18, 2021
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 at bookstores in Japan, or on Amazon and other online stores. Can also be ordered at bookstore counters in Japan with no shipping charges (the service may be unavailable at some stores).