Ebi (海老) lobster/shrimp

Name: Ebi (海老) lobster/shrimp

Seasonal Association Winter

When To Wear It: all year

Auspicious: yes

History: Ebi can play two different roles as a motif, that of a seasonal motif, and that of an auspicious motif.

Seasonal: Ebi is a staple ingredient in Osechi, the traditional New Year’s selection of food.

Auspicious: The hunched back and whiskers of the ebi are features that are also attributed to an old man and because of this, ebi is considered a symbol of long life. It is often nicknamed the old man of the sea.

Ebi can also be referred to as Ise Ebi (伊勢海老) which is a particular species of spiny lobster found in Mie prefecture.

Identification: Ebi will resemble a lobster or a shrimp with a curved back, long whiskers on its face, and six legs.


Sayagata (紗綾形) Linked Buddhist Swastikas

Name: Sayagata (紗綾形) Linked Buddhist Swastikas

Seasonal Association: None

When To Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: yes


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.