Nadeshiko (撫子) Pinks

Name: Nadeshiko (撫子) Pinks (A.K.A. Dianthus or Wild Carnation)

Seasonal Association: Summer, Autumn

When To Wear It: April-October

Auspicious: no

History:

The nadeshiko has always had a strong association with women and love. The phonemes that make up the word (nade=stroked/petted and ko=child) indicate a strong personification of this flower.  In fact, waka poets saw the nadeshiko as a personification of a girl who has been raised by a man.  The nadeshiko’s association with women is still just as strong today. In the modern world, the term yamato nadeshiko is used to describe the ideal Japanese woman, the characteristics of which can be found here.  In addition, the name of The Japan National Woman’s Soccer Team, one of the darlings of Japanese sporting world, is Nadeshiko.

During the Heian period, nadeshiko would be a name applied to a juuni-hitoe that was appropriate for summer. The specific colors of this gown vary with different sources, but maroon, crimson, scarlet, pink, and lavender are all colors that are associated with it.

Aki no nanakusa (秋の七草):

The seven flowers or grasses of autumn. It’s unknown who first put together this group of plants as a representation of autumn, but it is a classic theme of even the oldest Japanese poetry.

It includes…
hagi (bush clover)
susuki (pampas grass)
kuzu (arrowroot)
nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
fujibakama (mistflower)
kikyo (Chinese bellflower) NB: occasionally, asagao (morning glory) is substituted for kikyo.

For more information on aki no nanakusa, check out http://www.urasenke.org/flowers/autumn.php 

Identification:

Nadeshiko is another flower with five petals (see below). The petals of the nadeshiko are ragged at the edges.

043 042 032 014 (3) 044

Susuki (薄) Pampas Grass

014 065Name: Susuki (薄) pampas grass  (A.K.A. silver grass or plume grass)

Seasonal Association: Autumn

When To Wear It: August to October

Auspicious: no

History:

Susuki goes by many names in English including pampas grass, silver grass, and plume grass. It is another member of aki no nakakusa (the seven grasses of autumn). Historically, susuki was used for thatch for the roofs of homes, temples, and sheds. Nowadays, it could be viewed as a weed because it grows everywhere, but Japanese culture embraces simplicity and subtle elegance. Susuki, a simple but elegant grass, is emblematic of this mindset.  Susuki is an essential decoration for tsukimi, the mid-autumn moon viewing festival.

Aki no nanakusa (秋の七草)

The seven flowers or grasses of autumn. It’s unknown who first put together this group of plants as a representation of autumn, but it is a classic theme of even the oldest Japanese poetry.

It includes…

Hagi (bush clover)
Susuki (pampas grass)
Kuzu (arrowroot)
Nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
Ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
Fujibakama (mistflower)
Kikyo (Chinese bellflower) or asagao (morning glory)

For more information, check out http://www.urasenke.org/flowers/autumn.php

Identification

Susuki is depicted as a tall thin stalk with a feathered top. The top usually bends over to the side.

241

An example of susuki that is coloured rather unrealistically.

234

A simple example of susuki can be seen in the top left of this picture.

Kikyo/Kikyou (桔梗) Chinese Bellflower

Kikyo closed up like a bell.

Kikyo closed up like a bell.

Kikyo

Kikyo

Name: Kikyo/Kikyou (桔梗) Chinese Bellflower

Seasonal Association: Autumn

When To Wear It: June to November

Auspicious: no

 

History:

Kikyo (or kikyou) is also known as the Chinese bellflower. It starts blooming in late summer and into the autumn. Before it opens, the petals form the shape of a hanging bell that the flower takes it’s name from. Asagao (morning glory) also has this shape before it opens. I believe that this is one reason why kikyo and asagao are used interchangeably when depicting aki no nanakusa (秋の七草).

Aki no nanakusa (秋の七草):

The seven flowers or grasses of autumn. It’s unknown who first put together this group of plants as a representation of autumn, but it is a classic theme of even the oldest Japanese poetry.

It includes…
hagi (bush clover)
susuki (pampas grass)
kuzu (arrowroot)
nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
fujibakama (mistflower)
kikyo (Chinese bellflower)  NB: occationally, asagao (morning glory) is substituted for kikyo.

For more information on aki no nanakusa, check out http://www.urasenke.org/flowers/autumn.php 

Identification:

Kikyo is one of the many five-petaled flowers depicted in kimono.  The other common flowers are sakura (cherry blossom) or ume (plum blossom).   One distinction between them is the shape of the petals. Kikyo petals always come to a point while ume petals are completely round and sakura petals have a notch in them. Kikyo is almost always depicted as growing off of a straight stalk, however there are exceptions.

083 143

Examples of kikyo growing straight off the stalk and off the middle of the stalk.

kikyo paired with hagi in a classic autumn kanzashi.

kikyo paired with hagi in a classic autumn kanzashi.

Momiji (紅葉) and Kaede (楓) Japanese Maple

009Name: Momiji (紅葉) and Kaede (楓) Japanese maple

Seasonal Association: Autumn

When To Wear It: May – September

Auspicious: no

A Note on Names and Seasonality: The difference between momiji and kaede is not clear.  A popular myth that perpetuates on English language websites is that kaede are green and are appropriate for spring, and that momiji are other colors and are appropriate for autumn.  I admit, I believed it too for a while.  However, many Japanese people who grew up speaking the language and immersed in the culture have told me that both kaede and momiji are autumn motifs regardless of color.  Both words evoke the feeling of autumn to a Japanese speaker, the same way that a crocus or daffodil would evoke the feeling of spring to somebody raised in Western culture.  I have asked multiple people in Japan including my kitsuke teachers, wasai teacher, sado teachers, and regular people who have not learned any of the traditional arts.  All of them agree that both kaede and momiji are appropriate motifs for autumn, and the difference between them is negligible.

History:

Kaede was the original name for the Japanese maple tree. Momiji was traditionally used to refer to all autumn foliage, not just maple leaves. Eventually, due to the popularity of the maple leaf as the iconic autumn leaf, momiji came to refer to only maple trees while koyo (こうよう- same kanji as momiji but a different reading) nowadays refers to all autumn foliage.

Momiji-gari (autumn leaf viewing) is a popular activity for many people and is a popular motif for kimono.

Identification:

Kaede and momiji can be identified by their distinctive maple shape. The leaf has seven sharply pointed lobes with clear veins running along each lobe. The length of the lobes are not uniform, with four or five lobes being longer than the others. They can be shown as individual leaves or attached to branches.

203166 150 089 065

classic examples of kaede/momiji in a variety of colours.

Hagi (萩) bush clover

Typical hagi with three leaves in a cluster.

Typical hagi with three leaves in a cluster.

Name: Hagi (萩) bush clover

Seasonal Association: Autumn

When To Wear It: August to mid-October

Auspicious: no

 

 

History:

Historically, hagi seeds were ground and mixed with rice while hagi leaves were used as a tea substitute, although both these practices have fallen out of favour now. Hagi is a member of aki no nanakusa (the seven flowers or grasses of autumn). It’s not known who originally grouped these plants together as a representation of autumn, but their presence in even the oldest of Japanese poetry speaks to their timelessness as an autumn motif. Hagi is the most famous member of aki no nanakusa, possibly because it was prominently featured in a scene from The Tale of Genji.  Finally, the association between hagi and autumn is so strong, that the kanji for hagi even includes the kanji for autumn (秋-aki).

Aki no nanakusa (秋の七草):

The seven flowers or grasses of autumn. It’s unknown who first put together this group of plants as a representation of autumn, but it is a classic theme of even the oldest Japanese poetry.

It includes…
hagi (bush clover)
susuki (pampas grass)
kuzu (arrowroot)
nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
fujibakama (mistflower)
kikyo (Chinese bellflower) NB: occasionally, asagao (morning glory) is substituted for kikyo.

For more information on aki no nanakusa, check out http://www.urasenke.org/flowers/autumn.php

Identification:

Hagi is shown as an oval leaf with a single vein running down the middle. The leaves have very smooth edges and there are always three leaves per cluster.

228 229 074

Three classic examples of hagi.

Kiku (菊) Chrysanthemum

Name: kiku (菊) Chrysanthemum

Seasonal Association: Autumn

When To Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: Yes

History:

Kiku was introduced from China during the Nara period. They typically bloom in late summer and will last until the first snowfall. Because of their hardiness and medicinal properties, kiku are often associated with longevity. Perhaps because of this, the kiku was adopted by the Japanese imperial family as its crest and the official flower of Japan. The Japanese emperor is said to sit on the chrysanthemum throne and it is the longest uninterrupted line of monarchs in the world making the long-lived kiku a very appropriate symbol.

The crest of the imperial family shows a kiku with 16 petals in the front and 16 almost completely hidden petals in the back. Only the emperor can use the 16 petaled kiku, so kiku found on kimono, official documents, Japanese passports, and the 50 yen coin will all have a different number of petals.

003

forgive my poor photography skills.

Traditionally, kiku are celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month (according to the old Japanese calendar) during the Choyo Festival, but this tradition has fallen out of favor in modern times. The Choyo Festival was traditionally the signal to change from unlined hitoe kimono to lined awase kimono.

Identification:  There are four distinct types of kiku found on kimono.

1: Kiku 菊(Chrysanthemum)

The standard kiku has tightly packed petals that are either round or elongated, but are always smooth around the edge. Kiku with round petals tend to have more than one layer. Kiku with elongated petals tend to have only one layer of petals.

151 067

Kiku with elongated petals.  The first example has a double layer of  petals while the second example only has a single layer.

125 071

Kiku with more rounded petals and many layers.

2: Nejigiku 捻じ菊(Twisted chrysanthemum)

This flower resembles a regular kiku with elongated petals, but the petals are twisted around the center.

153 141

please note, the flower with five petals is not a kiku but an ume (plum blossom). 

3: Koringiku/manjugiku* 万寿菊 (Steamed bun chrysanthemum)

This is a very stylistic depiction. It was first created by the artist Korin Ogata, and took its name from him, but it also resembles a manju (steamed bun) and was given this colloquial name as well. This kiku is very round and has no defined petals.

*manjugiku also means marigold in Japanese.

183 239 148

4: Ragiku 乱菊 (Spider chrysanthemum)

This kiku has clusters of long, narrow petals with a distinctive upwards curl at the end of the petal.

032