Name: Sayagata (紗綾形) Linked Buddhist Swastikas
Seasonal Association: None
When To Wear It: All Year
The sayagata design is derived from a traditional Buddhist swastika, which is known as a manji (卍 or 万字) in Japanese. The first kanji (卍) depicts a Buddhist manji which has the tines facing in a counterclockwise direction. This is the opposite of the Nazi symbol in which the tines face clockwise. While manji will always face counterclockwise, because sayagata is made up of interlinking manji, you will see manji facing both directions in this design. This symbol has been used since the neolithic times and across many cultures. In modern day Japan, it is used on maps as a symbol for a Buddhist temple. The second kanji (万字) means “ten thousand words.”
The sayagata is usually used as a background design that is woven into the cloth for solid colored kimono or accessories. It is especially popular for iromuji kimono or items that use rinzu silk (which also makes it very hard to photograph!). The design consists of interlinking manji, and the manji are always depicted on the diagonal.