Name: Asagao (朝顔) Morning Glory
Seasonal Association: summer
When To Wear It: June to mid-September
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.
hagi (bush clover)
susuki (pampas grass)
nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
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
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.
I feel as if I’ve been neglecting this site, and for that I apologize! It’s been very busy here. My town recently finished it’s largest festival of the year called awa odori, I am currently making use of my kitsuke license to give lessons to others once a month, I am now taking wasai lessons twice a month (plus homework!) and I’m working on some larger scale, long-term projects as well (Let’s just say, if you didn’t know I had a youtube account, you may want to check it out now. It’s going to get interesting in the next few months). That combined with my regular work (you know, the kind that actually earns me some money) and just living and taking care of the house, well, a lot of things that I have planned find themselves pushed to the back-burner. Sometimes repeatedly.
With that being said, I decided that today would be a blog day, so I have created a lot of new pages, mostly on motifs, which has been badly neglected since the end of spring! First, we have nadeshiko a popular flower on yukata and appropriate for summer or autumn kimono. Next, we have asagao aka morning glory, one of the few flowers that represent summer. Finally, I’ve started a new category of motifs, geometric patterns. The first pattern I decided to focus on was the sayagata or linked Buddhist swastikas.
And with all that work, I decided it would be a good idea to let you all know what some of my sources are for motif information. My library is growing quite large, and I’ve listed the titles I use on a regular basis here so you can check them out yourself.
Hope you have all had an amazing summer! I know I’m looking forward to the temperature dropping again. I will definitely have more choice in my kimono wardrobe (I currently only have one full set of summer appropriate kimono, obi, and accessories. It’s sad.) And I’m looking forward to all the kimono related activities, articles, blogs, and videos I have planned from here until the end of the year. It’s going the busy. Can’t wait!