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.

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Asagao (朝顔) Morning Glory

Classic asagao

Classic asagao

Name: Asagao (朝顔) Morning Glory

Seasonal Association: summer

When To Wear It: June to mid-September

Auspicious: no

 

 

History:

The morning glory was originally introduced from China for medicinal use as a laxative during the 9th century. The plant was well established during the Heian period, and there is a minor character named Princess Asagao present in The Tale of Genji. During the Edo Period, the asagao was cultivated as an ornamental plant. Historically, asagao was considered an autumn motif in the pantheon of seasonal waka poetry, and it is sometimes included in the classical seven flowers of autumn (see below). However currently, the asagao has come to represent summer more than autumn. In fact, it is one of the few flowers today that is instantly recognized as a summer motif in Japan.

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:

The easiest way to identify an asagao is to look for a thin, five pointed star the reaches out from the center of the flowers to the edges of the petals. This star will always be a different colour than the surrounding petals. The petals of an asagao will not be distinct, but will be a circle with varying degrees of smoothness around the edges. Another identifying feature of the asagao is its trumpet-like shape. The leaves of the asagao have three points all pointing downwards.

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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.

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An example of susuki that is coloured rather unrealistically.

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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.

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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.

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.

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Three classic examples of hagi.