Monday, April 1, 2013

Kimono Seasonal Motifs, Flowers, and Colors: April

Here's April: I managed to get this one done despite getting a late start, yay! The theme this month seems to be understated beauty, dressing in harmony with spring rather than trying to outdo it. Enjoy!

(If you're looking to buy kimono, I recommend Rakuten for new ones, especially casual wear, and Ichiroya for nice vintage ones!)

The Month of April 


Brilliant rinzu or donsu (silk/satin damask) silks and mon-ishou (solid-color fabrics with patterns woven into them) silks. In the case of tea ceremony, choose “light” (less formal, I believe) houmongi or tsukesage. It’s good to mainly use colors like purple (murasaki) 8B52A1 or light pink (usu-beni) F69896, light blue (mizu-iro) AFDFE4, ink black (sumi-iro) 333132, light brown (usu-cha) C5956B, and light green (usu-midori) CEE6C1.

Good patterns to use include michi-naga-dori (a pattern that resembles collage art with “torn” edges between different patterns), go-sho-doki (bright or flashy pattern featuring scenery scattered with flowers from all four seasons blooming and items from ancient court life, like ox-drawn carriages or formal cypress wood fans), and flowers like cherry blossoms, peony, and wisteria.

Examples of "torn paper collage" design

Example of scattered nature and
classical court pattern "go-sho-doki"


Shioze silk obi with dyed spring patterns, or obi with flowers rendered in gold brocade are appropriate. In the case of woven obi, use single-color brocade obi like gold leaf, platinum leaf, silver leaf, or haku-ichou (an obi made from only gold leaf and a single color’s thread, the contrast creating its monochrome pattern).

Haku-ichou obi


Obi-age should be plain or gradated rinzu silk, with obi-jime chosen to match the type of kimono worn. If yurugi (crown-style) type obi-jime are used, they should coordinate well with the kimono.

Yurugi obijime

Juban become unlined, and it’s good to use plain light colors or small, fine spring patterns. Collars are white shioze or habutae silk. For footwear, choose bright colors that coordinate with the colors of the kimono.


Go with bright, golden yellow (yama-buki-iro) FCAF17, purple, light pink, light blue, ink black, light brown, pearl gray (shin-ju-iro) FFFEF2, and light colors that are clearer and brighter than March’s colors.


Wisteria (fuji), peony (botan), willow (yanagi), streams/flowing water (ryuusui) and scattered court and nature patterns. For cherry blossoms (sakura), use the blossoms (sakura-bana) the first half of the month and the petals (hana-bira) the second half of the month.




Streams/flowing water

"Scattered nature and court patterns" shown in first section.

Cherry blossoms for the first half of the month

Cherry blossom petals for
the second half of the month

Flowers Associated with April

Lily magnolia (moku-ren), mountain rose (yama-buki), Reeves spirea (ko-de-mari), noble orchid (shun-ran), green/budding willow (ao-yagi), Chinese peony (shaku-yaku), and “autumn of bamboo” (take-no-aki). (It’s called “autumn of bamboo” because around this time of year bamboo leaves turn yellow and drop off, resembling autumn and making way for new leaves.)

Lily magnolia

Mountain rose

Reeves spirea

Noble orchid

Green/budding willow

Chinese peony

"Autumn of bamboo"

Patterns Associated with April 

Swallows (tsubame), deer (shika), green/unripened wheat or barley (ao-mugi), curtains at cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami-manmaku).



Green/unripened wheat

Curtains at cherry-blossom
viewing parties

(Original Author) Notes

Regarding lined kimono with spring flower patterns:

For tea ceremony, it’s the season for getting out of the tea house and doing an “open-air tea ceremony” in the middle of nature, which means lots of seats available.

Although it’s called the simple phrase “open-air tea ceremony”, according to the true purpose of the ceremony and place kimono worn will still keep their different ranks: chu-furisode, houmongi, tsukesage, and komon. (I think what the author is saying here is you can’t bust out a furisode just because you feel like it: you still need to think about which rank of kimono would be appropriate for tea ceremony even if the setting is more informal than usual.)

However, because the outdoors are alive with the fresh beauty of spring in full bloom, a lighthearted pattern in a monochrome spring color can look good and suggest the loveliness of the season around you. Rather than trying to compete with cherry blossoms in full bloom, azaleas/rhododendron (tsutsuji), and peonies, try wearing things that subtly or humbly hint at the season and you’ll look nice.

Translator Notes

-Another name for "usu-beni", light pink, is "usu-kurenai".

-I actually own the blue kimono shown in the stock photo used for the "green willow" example. It's a washable one and very pretty in real life, and one of my favorite kimono! :)

-While it's not explicitly stated, all kimono will be lined this month. Unlined kimono don't kick in until June.

(Notes below repeated from previous months)

-The original author repeats several points, so with certain common terms I am using the Japanese name on first mention only. If you’re unsure of something, feel free to ask and I can clarify.

-The number next to the color name is that color's hex code as used in HTML. Keep in mind the exact shade may vary as well, from what I've seen cross-checking traditional color-name sites with actual kimono vendors.

- As a note, this is my translation of a tea ceremony kimono site. The tea ceremony world, I have learned, is among the strictest when it comes to following proper seasonality rules, so bear in mind that these rules are more stringent than the general thinking for daily and casual kimono wearers.

It’s great if a daily wearer can put together an outfit following all of these rules, but very few will look at you funny if you can’t, as it’s hard and can be expensive to collect all the proper pieces. I’m translating this site more as part of my efforts to add to the world of English-language kimono information for those who don’t speak Japanese.


Kaeru said...

Thank you, it's very interesting !

Christina said...

You're welcome. :)

Mags said...

Thank you so much for these translations, they're fascinating!

Christina said...

You're welcome!

A.B. said...

Once again, wonderful!
I'm so excited, after your March post, you have inspired me to start sewing my own, kimono-inspired western clothing, and your translations have been an indispensable resource. I'd love you email you some pictures!
(I need some help on making the obi/waistband choice and I've been experimenting with different musubi....)

Christina said...

Oh, that's really cool! :)

Thank you and please feel free to email me with any photos of what you make. I'd love to see it!

Aichi said...
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Aichi said...
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Aichi said...

Thank you very much. I am always interested in Kimono seasonality ♥

The deer and hana-bira obi look wonderful ~

Aline said...
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catina harris said...

Hi could you post weddings styles/patterns/ideas? Have you done a blog on western Japanese weddings that I could look up? Need inspiration for wedding dress I want to have made...colors, don't want to do white but still want elegance and class.

Email me please...

Christina said...

Hello! I've never done a post like that, but I will in the next few days. Thanks for the suggestion! (I can't email you as a I don't see an address?)