Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kimono Seasonal Flowers, Motifs, and More: June

Awhile back, I found an amazingly detailed kimono seasonality site and marked it for later translation. It goes through each month, and I will be translating it one month at a time.

As a note, this is a 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.

On to the info! Thanks for reading. :)

The Month of June

Komayori ro

This month lined kimono (awase) are replaced with unlined (hitoe). Regarding fabrics, kawari-chirimen silk crepe (an “improved”, more wrinkle-resistant form of hitokoshi-chirimen silk), and komayori ro silk are suitable for wear.

Colors include Chinese bellflower (kikyou) purple 585EAA, thistle red (opinion seems to vary on this one, but the color ranges from light, cool pink to bright cool pink) (azami-no-aka) D8BFD8, indigo (ai) 0F5474, greyish dark green (rikyuu-nezumi) 54745C, and other such cool-toned darker colors are classic choices and traditional, but nowadays lighter colors (colors with more white in them) are worn.

For patterns, “Asiatic dayflower” (tsuyu-kusa), “Japanese pampas grass” (ito-susuki), lilies in general, or other such seasonal flowers or scenery that create a feeling of coolness are essential.
Asiatic dayflower

Asiatic dayflower on left

Japanese pampas grass


Opaque Nagoya obi, made of “tapestry-weave” tsuzure(1)  and shioze(2) fabrics, are used with opaque kimono.
Close-up of shioze

 The standard for transparent kimono is to use Nagoya obi made with tapestry ro (ro-tsuzure), or “Japanese batik” ro (ro-zome), and fukuro obi made of ro or sha silk(3).


But from the middle of the month onward, it’s stylish to hint at the coming summer by pairing a transparent obi with an opaque kimono.

Patterns that can be used include seasonal flowers or classical court patterns (yuu-soku).

Court patterns from ancient times


All accessories should be summer-weight. Obi-age: plain or gradated color ro silk. Obi-jime: thin braid or summer-weight ra silk is good. Naga-juban (one-piece underlayer kimono): ro silk.

Obi-age scarf left, obi-jime cord right

Colors are white, or plain or small-patterned (komon) transparent/pale colors.

The collar (han-eri) should be ro silk in white. Because things can get sweaty with the heat this month, washable polyester collars are useful.

Footwear is low-heeled patent leather, in colors, or Panama style. Coordinating it with the colors of the kimono and obi will create a refined impression.

Notes (original author's)

The wearing of dark colors at the beginning of unlined (hitoe) kimono season is an old custom. Pairing such colors with accessories in cold, clear colors creates a feeling of refreshing coolness. Generally the collar and naga-juban are the first to change over to ro silk, but there are situations where stylish people will also change the obi over to ro early as well.

General Colors

Colors such as Chinese bellflower purple, light green (asa-midori) 84C98B, indigo, greyish dark green, and light blue (mizu-iro) AFDFE4. With dark colors, accompanying colors like white or scarlet (ake) ED1A3D are good.


Hydrangea (ajisai), blue flag iris (hana-shoubu), Japanese pampas grass, lily, green maple leaves (ao-kaede), water patterns (sui-mon), distant mountains (too-yama)


Blue flag iris

See earlier section for Japanese pampas grass

Green maple leaves

Water patterns

Distant mountains

June Flowers

Early/summer chrysanthemums (natsu-giku), evening primrose (tsuki-misou) bamboo lily (sasa-yuri), fringed iris (sha-ga), hydrangea
Early/summer chrysanthemums

Evening primrose

Bamboo lily

Fringed iris

See earlier section for hydrangea.

Patterns Associated with June

Open folding fans (sen-men), flat and round fans (uchiwa), firefly cages (hotaru-kago), flutes (fue) because they are played at summer festivals, drums (taiko)

 More (Original Author) Notes

-“Unlined kimono during the rainy season (tsuyu)”: Kimono become unlined in June, but there are two types of unlined kimono, transparent and opaque. Before the rainy season begins, opaque fabrics are used. Once the rainy season begins, transparent are used.

-Examples of fabrics include soft, unlined chirimen silk in various types such as “willow” (yoryuu), “daybreak” (shinonome), and “Takasago” (place name)(4). Nowadays, improved versions of these are sold under the name “kawari-chirimen”.

-An example of transparent fabrics is “koma-yori” ro. It’s made of twisted silk threads, so it’s thicker than normally-woven ro. Another characteristic is its firmness.

-Because summer-weight kimono are worn from June to the last part of September, it’s convenient to have one on hand.

-Obi change over to summer-weight obi. If we think about it, opaque obi go with opaque kimono, and transparent obi go with transparent kimono. Nagoya obi made of tapestry-weave, gold brocade (haku-nishiki), and shioze silk are worn with opaque unlined kimono. Since long ago, it’s been considered harmonious to wear tapestry ro or ro Nagoya obi beginning halfway through June and onward. “Sha” obi are popular, but probably fit best with a type of ro called “koma-ro” transparent kimono.

-With white naga-juban, the material becomes “ro”. Collars are white “ro”, and obi-age change to “ro” as well.

Translator Footnotes

(1) Tsuzure: a variation on plain-weave fabric where the pattern is woven using the horizontal threads. Introduced from China in the Nara period, and a specialty of Kyoto’s Nishijin area.

(2) Shioze: a type of fine (habutae) silk using very fine vertical threads and thick horizontal threads, moistened and tightly woven. After weaving, the fabric is scoured and dyed.

(3) Basically, ro, sha and ra are all open “gauze” weaves. If you’re curious, here is a detailed explanation of the difference between a ro, sha, and ra weave.

(4) “Willow” gets its name from its slightly bumpy vertical texture, resembling the draping branches of the willow tree. “Daybreak” has a slightly bumpy horizontal texture (perhaps implying a sunrise?), and I can’t find any specifics about Takasago other than it’s apparently high-end. Total conjecture, but it might be named after the famous play/motif, which celebrates a husband-and-wife pair of enchanted trees in two different places, one being in Takasago. They appear as an old man and old woman and are considered good luck and symbols of a full and happy life.

Translator Notes

-I enjoyed learning several new terms doing this month, but I think my favorite is the whimsical-looking hotaru-kago, “firefly cages”. It’s apparently a rare motif as I’ve never seen one and couldn’t find an example online, but I’ll definitely have an eye out for it now. :)

-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. I may rearrange the order of things starting with the next month, July.

-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: cross-checking traditional color-name sites with actual kimono venders, the Chinese bellflower lavender, for example, can range from a light cool lavender to the more vibrant one in the post.

-While the wording “opaque” and “transparent” may seem a bit awkward, it’s the closest translation: they are “sukenai” (not transparent) 透けない and “sukeru” (transparent/see-through) 透ける, respectively.

The original Japanese text can be found here.


Mai said...

I can't thank you enought for taking your time to translate and post these wonderfull informations!

I'm a great admiror of traditional kitsuke, and seasonality in kimono is very fascinating to me... it's hard to find such valuable and detailed info about colors, motifs (even materials!).

So, thank you again! - and, if may I ask, please keep up the great work! ^_^

Christina said...

Thank you, and you're welcome!

July is actually going faster than June did, so I may have it up within the next week. :)