Monday, September 30, 2013

Kimono Seasonal Motifs, Colors and Flowers: Finished!

Here it is, my final post containing the text-only translations for August-February, plus links to the other months already done. (For why I'm stopping this blog, please see here.)

This has been a really intense, interesting project and I learned a lot from doing it. I hope it will be helpful to you and please let me know (on Facebook or Tumblr) if you have any questions about something in the translation.

The source for this translation is a tea ceremony website, as a note, and therefore the rules are much stricter than for everyday wear.

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

One last request: Please credit me if you copy and post this elsewhere. I've been working on this project for almost a year. Thank you!



Light-weight/sheer materials like ro, sha, and hemp. The beginning of the month is still the height of summer so hemp rather than silk is still predominant. With fabrics like Echigo, Ojiya, and Noto, when they are dyed it gives a nice feeling of coolness if a white background is used.

After the first official day of autumn (around August 8), dark colors are desirable. Things like ro and sha silks are the same: after the first day of autumn dark color backgrounds are preferred to white, as they help create the sense of coming fall.

Patterns are mostly autumn plants and flowers, as we want to express without delay the coming of the season. The beauty of light-weight (sheer) kimono is in one who wears their transparent beauty skillfully.(1)


Hemp obi are paired with hemp (linen) kimono. Ro obi are paired with ro kimono, and sha fukuro obi with sha kimono. Outside of fukuro obi, ones like ra (silk-gauze) Nagoya/fukuro or dyed Nagoya ro obi can be used.

Obi for this time are lightweight as the aim is to endure the heat of the season.

Choosing colors like light beige, tea (brown), and light light blue (mizu-asagi) 70A19F that refresh us and pairing them with patterns that look like plain colors from a distance but show themselves to be small designs close up is beautiful. The most important thing to remember about the color scheme is that it should create a feeling of coolness.


Obiage are ro or mon-sha in plain colors or gradations, while thin kumihimo style obijime are used.

Use silk nagajuban with silk kimono, and hemp nagajuban with hemp kimono.

Collars should also match the nagajuban they are attached to in terms of fabric: a silk ro collar for a silk nagajuban.

Footwear will be made of things like vinyl or panama: any summer-like material that gives a sense of coolness.


Dark blue (nou-kon), white (shiro), light light blue, aster violet (shion-iro), off-white (kinari), tea, crimson (aka or sha), transparent background material using dark colors.


Japanese pampas grass (susuki), pinks (nadeshiko), bush clover (hagi), Chinese bellflower (kikyou), or any of the classical “seven fall plants” (nana-kusa), Asiatic dayflower (tsuyukusa), flowing water or rivers (ryuusui), insects (mushi): anything that invites the feeling of autumn is a good choice.

Flowers Associated with August

Cotton rose (fuyou), Asiatic dayflower, Joseph’s coat (hageitou), bush clover, Chinese bellflower, Japanese pampas grass (obana), thoroughwort (fuji-bakama), Japanese arrowroot (kuzu), morning glory (asagao), patrinia (ominaeshi), mizu-hiki-sou (no English name), Job’s tears (ju-zu-dama).

Patterns Associated with August

Dragonflies (tombo), Chinese lantern plant (houzuki), lightning (inazuma), swirls or whirlpools of water (uzu-maki)

(1) You always wear two layers under a kimono, one the underkimono and one a simple shift, so in case you’re wondering no one’s running around in see-through kimono alone during August. ;)


Kimono: Sheer or unlined. The first part of the month is the final days of summer, and sheer ro is used. Sha, being lighter than ro, can be worn during middays on especially hot days. Choose colors, materials, and patterns that are reminiscent of autumn.

On September 9, which is the traditional “Chrysanthemum Festival” in the old “Five Seasonal Festivals” calendar, kimono change over to unlined.

Fabrics like hitokoshi chirimen, kawari chirimen, and mon-ishou are suitable, but brilliant rinzu silks are to be avoided.

Colors that harmonize with nature at this time of year are good choices: deep blue, grey, scarlet, yellow ochre, light tea, and colors that are tinged with yellow.

Patterns center around things like autumn grasses, cages for insects, and flutes. Dyed patterns shift from monochrome to color.


Ro tapestry (tsuzure) is best, because while sheer fabric weaves like ro and sha are used in fukuro obi this month, just as they were in July and August, it’s good to suggest the coming fall by using a slightly heavier material.

Unlined kimono (not just sheer ones) can be tied with a ro tapestry obi. However, in the last third of the month obi change over to fabrics like brocade (nishiki-ori), tapestry weave (tsuzure), and pongee (tsumugi).

Calm colors in neutral hues are appropriate. Create a stylish, high-end look by carefully balancing the lights and darks of your outfit through your kimono and obi choices. Consider also how the pattern of your obi will harmonize with the pattern of your kimono.


Obi-age are ro, obi-jime are slightly thin. Naga-juban (underlayer kimono) are ro, as well as han-eri (collars). For footwear, summer zori in dark colors are beautiful.

Original Author’s Notes:

Kimono fabrics are ro in the first half of the month and solid, unlined ones (hitoe) starting mid-month. While September usually sees ro used for naga-juban and han-eri, they can be traded for heavier material if cold weather arrives.

Ro obi are worn with ro kimono, and obi made of things like ro-tapestry and brocade are worn with unlined kimono.


Deep navy (fukai kon) 1A4472, light ink grey (usuzumi) 939598, ochre (oudo-iro) BA8448, scarlet (ake) ED1A3D, light tea (usu-cha) C5956B, grape (ebi-iro or budou-iro) 691C2A. Starting at the beginning of the month, slowly add warmth (warm colors) to monochrome outfits.


Wear ones like combinations of the “seven grasses of fall”* (nanakusa) or insect cages (mushi-kago) until mid-month. After that switch to chrysanthemums (kiku), the moon (tsuki), flutes (fue), and gourds (hyoutan).

*The seven all together are: bush clover (hagi), Chinese bellflower (kikyou), arrowroot (kuzu), thoroughwort (fujibakama), patrinia (ominaeshi), pampas grass (susuki), and pinks (nadeshiko).

Flowers Associated with September:

Fields of flowers (hana-no) filled with the “seven grasses of fall”, small chrysanthemums (ko-giku), Asiatic dayflower (tsuyu-kusa), burnet (waremokou), mizubiki-gusa (no English name, but the Latin is “Polygonum filiforme”).

Patterns Associated with September:

Pine crickets (matsu-mushi), bell crickets (suzu-mushi), insect cages, the first wild geese of the season (hatsu-kari), grass with dew (tsuyu-shiba), and flutes and taiko drums due to autumn festivals.

More Original Author’s Notes:

Regarding wearing unlined kimono in the first part of autumn:

September is the same as June in that technically sheer items should not be worn. However, given that the weather can still be hot in the last lingering days of summer, summer transparent fabrics can be worn during the first part of month if the kimono gives a sense of the coming fall through its color and the obi matched with it.

Because the weaker fall sunlight is tinged with yellow, kimono that are too white or too bright will look dull.

With sheer kimono in sha, ro, or the like, choose a dark, deep color background over a white one. Colors reference the colors seen blooming in fall fields, like the purple of the bush clover (hagi), the yellow of the patrinia (ominaeshi), and the brown of burnet.

A naga-juban’s color should be similar or complementary to the kimono used.

The 9th of September is called “Chou-you”, and is the Chrysanthemum Festival, one of the traditional Five Festivals (Sekku). The meaning of the name “Chou-you” (literally “increase of days”) is that you have two 9s: the 9 of September and the 9 of the day itself. So the two 9s pile up.

This festival originates in China, and during the Heian time it was called “chrysanthemum season” in the imperial court. On that day poets and authors were invited to write pieces and enjoy chrysanthemum sake.

In addition to the chrysanthemum sake, in a typical household there was the custom of the “cotton cloth” (kisewata). A cloth would be covered with chrysanthemum petals, and once the cloth was infused with the scent of the flowers you would cleanse yourself with it. The belief was it would purify you and keep away illness.



The calendar switches over to lined kimono as we enter the month we can call “The Chrysanthemum Month.” Appropriately colored rinzu silks and beautifully lustrous fabric with woven patterns are preferred. Since long ago the colors for this time have been the many true ones of fall, such as calm reds, yellows, browns, black, and red-brown (azuki-iro).

Patterns are overwhelmingly dominated by chrysanthemum. Next are dignified ones like scrolls of sutras or religious writings (kyou-kan), scattered treasures (takara-zukushi) or classical court patterns (yuu-soku).

On plain kimono, it’s nice to have the lining at the bottom hem feature a seasonal pattern.

Other than rinzu silk, chirimen is also worn.


We could also call October “Shioze Month,” as both dyed Nagoya and dyed fukuro obi are made of shioze silk. For motifs, hand-drawn chrysanthemums are especially popular this month so it’s fun to try creating interesting coordinates of kimono and obi with them.

Woven Nagoya obi of the same formality (light, casual) can be used as well.

When it comes to brocade fukuro obi, keep them as casual as possible. Stylish fukuro obi are good, too. Patterns are dignified ones like “famous imported patterns” (mei-butsu-gire) and patterns reminiscent of Noh theater costumes (nou-shou-zoku).


Obi-age are made of things like winter-weight rinzu or chirimen in plain or shibori styles. Obi-jime are flat style (hira-uchi, also known as hira-gumi) or yurugi style.

Because yurugi-style obi-jime can be worn throughout the year, they are very handy for tea ceremony wear. Naga-juban feature the same lined sleeves as winter-weight ones, but are unlined in the chest area. Collars are also fabric like shioze habutae silk or chirimen. Footwear is “enamel”(vinyl) zouri.

Original Author’s Notes:

Regarding the color of the lining of the skirt, if it matches the kimono itself in color that will give the garment a high-class feel. Also, a monochrome pattern matched according to your personal tastes works well, too.


“Fallen leaf” warm yellow-orange (kuchiba-iro), tea brown (cha-iro), yellow ochre (oudo-iro), asa-murasaki (light purple), reddish-brown (azuki-iro), gold (kin), silver (gin), ink black (sumi-iro)


Chrysanthemums along a wooden fence (magaki-giku), gingko (ichou), autumn leaves/fall colors (kouyou), nuts/fruits/berries (ki-no-mi), scattered treasures (takara-zukushi), classical court patterns (yuu-soku).

Flowers Associated with October:

Large-bloom chrysanthemums (tairin-no-kiku), spider mums (ran-giku), small chrysanthemums (ko-giku), wild chrysanthemums (no-giku), fall colors, gingko, ivy (tsuta), fallen leaves (ochi-ba).

Patterns Associated with October:

Ears of rice (inaho), grapes (budou), persimmon (kaki), flutes (fue) and drums (taiko) due to fall festivals, and sparrows (suzume) and small clapper-style instruments (naruko) due to rice.

More Original Author Notes:

Regarding the beginning of wearing lined kimono during the “simple” (wabi) tea ceremony season:

This month marks the end of using the portable furnace for heating water during the tea ceremony. It’s nice to have a tea room that feels old or worn-out, in the spirit of the “remains” (nagori) of the season. This word, “remains”, comes from the tea leaves used to make both thick and light tea. Chatsubo, the pot used to store a year’s supply of tea leaves, runs out around now and always has a few leaves left around the mouth of the pot after a year of use, and these are called “remains” and honored with the “nagori-no-chaji” tea ceremony.

October kimono should also reflect the “wabi” spirit and be subdued and tasteful.

With tasteful, subdued color kimono, wear an obi with fall scenery drawn in black, and an obijime in a color like red or yellow to give the sense of autumn leaves and color. This way we can truly match the feeling of the season, don’t you think?

Choose colors that match the season in fabrics like chirimen or rinzu, and go with moderate or subtle patterns when wearing kimono like houmongi or tsukesage. For komon, go with small patterns like flowers or fallen leaves. Whichever you choose, stick with only a few colors, close to a monochrome color scheme.



Kimono are lined and made of fabrics like rinzu and donsu (damask) silk with patterns woven into the fabric itself, mon-ishou. The woven patterns are interlocking Buddhist swastikas (sayagata), chrysanthemums, chintz (sarasa), crepe weave (nashi-ji), and dignified ones like scraps of old patterns mixed together (kodai-gire) are suitable.

Also, for tea ceremony we want to avoid shiny and lustrous fabrics to help create a tasteful atmosphere. With chirimen, choose chirimen of a rough, bumpy texture to help deepen the feeling of fall.

Colors are autumn ones that are soft and dark like yellow ochre (ou-do-iro), beige (be-ju), dried-leaf brown (kareha-iro), green tea (matcha), vermillion/scarlet (shu-iro), and dark red (enji). Beyond these colors, gray (gure-) and navy (kon) can be charming as well.

Preferred patterns are fall flowers or fruits, nuts, berries,  or picture scrolls depicting natural scenes. The “kuchikiri-no-chaji” tea ceremony, when the seal is broken on a jar of tea for the next year, is like New Year’s for tea people, so kimono with family crests and formal outfits are worn.


Fukuro obi with flowers done in Chinese brocade (kara-nishiki) are suitable. However, big patterns should be avoided. Even if they’re younger-looking, go with small or medium patterns.

Use patterns like ones reminiscent of Noh theater costumes (nou-shou-zoku) and classical court ones (yuu-soku). For dyed obi, you can also use ones with tea flowers (cha-ka) drawn on them.


Obi-age are plain or shibori made with fabrics like rinzu and chirimen. Suitable obi-jime are ones like kara-gumi style or yurugi style. Naga-juban are made of fabrics like rinzu with lined sleeves and an unlined chest area. Hada-juban (the underwear layer worn beneath the naga-juban) are made of gauze. Collars are white shioze habutae silk.

For footwear, it’s good to choose deep, dark color “enamel” (vinyl) zouri with a slightly high heel.

Original Author’s Notes: “Kai-ro”, when people start using the built-in hearth in a temple or tea ceremony, is equivalent to the New Year’s first tea ceremony, so bright and showy kimono are allowed.


Yellow ochre, “fallen leaf” warm yellow-orange (kuchiba-iro), green tea (matcha-iro), navy, silver-grey (gin-nezu), orange (daidai-iro), and dark red.


Fruits/nuts/berries, wild chrysanthemums (no-giku), fruit, wild geese (kari), a mix of scattered nature and court patterns (go-sho-doki), patterns coming from old stories and legends (mono-gatari), and classical court patterns (yuu-soku).

Flowers Associated with November

Camellia (tsubaki), which can be used from October to April, scattered fall leaves (chiri-kou-you), gingko (ichou), a medley of fruits/plants (fukiyose), Chinese aster (kan-giku), Christmas camellia (sazanka), bamboo (take) due to the peaking of new leaves on bamboo at this time called “bamboo spring”(take-no-haru), and pine needles (matsu-ba), which can be used from now until the “first bath” (hatsu-yu) of spring in April.

Patterns Associated with November

Fruit/nuts/berries, bamboo due to “bamboo spring”, and cranes (tsuru).

More Original Author Notes:

The “kuchikiri-no-chaji” (“breaking of the seal ceremony”) tea ceremony in November follows the “end” of the tea ceremony year in October. From this month on, we start using new tea and to do this break the seal on a new jar of tea for the year. With this and the return to using the built-in hearth ceremony (kai-ro), it’s like a new year has begun for tea people. This ceremony in formality is much like the actual New Year tea ceremony.

If you are invited to a kuchikiri-no-chaji or kai-ro ceremony, wear a kimono with crests paired with a formal obi featuring a classy pattern. In this situation there is a need for formality. It’s appropriate to wear high-level patterns like old court patterns (koten) or houmongi or tsukesage with fall-like painted patterns, don't you think? Obi are brocade-weave (nishiki-ori) fukuro obi.

Also, on the holiday called Culture Day, we can see various traditional events and activities, including “ryuu-rei”, where a tea ceremony is done with a table and chairs. In the case of this sort of tea ceremony, nice-quality items or ones that are a little showy are appropriate. Obi can also be less formal, with ones like woven Nagoya ok to wear.


Lined kimono are worn. In the case of fabrics that have patterns woven into them, the type called “mon-ishou” is a good choice. Patterns include small, repeating ones like crepe weave (nashi-ji), interlocking Buddhist swastikas (sayagata), interlocking chrysanthemums (muji-na-giku), and arabesques (kara-kusa) done in a slightly glossy sheen. If chirimen is used, go with hitokoshi-chirimen or kawari-chirimen.

For patterns, we can generally see ones like the “loyal retainer” (giji) or “safety in the home” wishes (ka-nai-an-zen) style of tiny, repeating patterns (edo-komon). Choose unsaturated colors like grey (gure-), purple-chestnut brown (murasaki-kuri-iro), or reddish-brown (azuki-iro).

When going to a tea ceremony in pongee silk (tsumugi), wear a plain or dyed one. Splash pattern kimono (kasuri), even high-priced ones, are not appropriate and should be avoided.


Fukuro obi, Nagoya obi, chuya obi: the point of any kind of brocade obi in this situation is not to be flashy. Instead, choose restrained monochrome designs in lacquer (urushi) or gold and silver leaf (kin-gin-haku). With a less-formal komon kimono, a pongee obi works as well. Patterns are ones like “treasure house” large stylized circles (shou-so-in), arabesques (kara-kusa), and various chintzes (sarasa). The idea is to bring the whole body together through the choices of pattern for both kimono and obi.


Obi-age are plain-color chirimen while obi-jime are plain-color yurugi style: accessories should have a look of clean simplicity.

Naga-juban become lined, while collars are white shioze habutae or chirimen silk. Footwear is leather or “enamel” (vinyl) zouri, and with slightly-low heels will look sharp. Coats are essential for the cold weather. Long kimono coats (douchuugi) are appropriate. Plain, deep colors and fine patterns (komon) are appropriate.

Original Author’s Notes:

When considering colors, it’s good to match the naga-juban in terms of brightness to the colors of the kimono itself.


White, grey, reddish-brown, brilliant scarlet (hi-iro), madder red (akane-iro), reddish-purple (ko-dai-murasaki), mustard yellow (karashi-iro), dark green (shin-ryoku).


Fallen leaves (ochi-ba), Chinese aster (kan-giku), barren fields (kare-no), barren winter trees (fuyu-kodachi), nandina (nan-ten), arabesques and chintzes.

Flowers Associated with December

Daffodils (sui-sen), coral berry (man-ryou), Japanese allsprice (rou-bai), combinations of chrysanthemums, camellia, and bamboo

Patterns Associated with December

Snowy landscapes (yuki-geshiki), barren fields, snowy mountains (fuyu-yama), frost-covered trees (ju-hyou), floating sleeping birds (uki-ne-dori), Japanese citrus (yuzu)

More Original Author Notes:

Wearing lined kimono at the year’s end: For tea ceremony lessons, when wearing informal materials like wool or pongee (tsumugi) there are many chances to wear them, but be careful about how informal your outfit is.

Newly-available materials include synthetic kimono, which you can wash in your washing machine at home and come in a variety of patterns and colors.

With komon or a plain kimono, young women can wear a narrow (hanhaba) obi tied in a butterfly knot (chou-musubi) or bow-tie knot (ichi-mon-ji). Those who prefer a stylish look can wear a woven Nagoya obi of the hassun variety.

For kimono colors, go with light colors but not a variety of them all at once, and for komon kimono choose smaller rather than larger patterns.

There is a word: “from the beginning to the end” (pin-kara-kiri-made). This “kiri” refers to an ending, in the case of this month the end of the year. There is another “kiri”, which means “paulownia”, and because of this connection of the “end” kiri in sound to the “paulownia” kiri, we can see paulownia patterns on both kimono and obi in December.


For New Year’s Week (Matsu-no-Uchi), formal kimono with family crests are worn. Irotomesode, houmongi, tsukesage, and so on. Young women wear chuu-furisode.

Fabrics are rinzu or donsu (damask) with a glossy sheen. If chirimen is used it’s good to pick the kind that has a rough, bumpy texture. For patterns woven into fabrics, choose from ones like somewhat large repeats of your family crest, interlocking Buddhist swastikas (sayagata), stylized rising steam (tatewaku), mist (kasumi), stylized ocean waves (seigaiha), flowing water (ryuu-sui), large arabesques (oo-karakusa), or any of the many, many auspicious patterns out there!

Colors are those appropriate for early spring: cheerful light colors are focused on like pink (pinku), blue (buru-), light purple (usu-murasaki), cream (kuri-mu), beige (be-ju), and young grass green (waka-kusa-iro). Grey (gure-) is also a nice choice if it is a bright tone.

With patterns like auspicious ones (kichi-jou), a mix of scattered nature and court ones (go-sho-doki), and classical court ones(yuu-soku), a single embroidered family crest on the middle of the back will lift the formality of the kimono higher than a crest that is only dyed.


Chinese brocade (kara-nishiki), colored brocade (iro-nishiki), gold or silver brocade (haku-nishiki), haku-ichou (an obi made from only gold leaf and a single color’s thread, the contrast creating its monochrome pattern), saga-nishiki (a brocade mixing a dyed silk weft with gold/silver/lacquered paper warp). Various brocades are used and so mainly fukuro obi are worn.

Appropriate patterns include very dignified ones like “famous imported patterns” (mei-butsu-gire), patterns reminiscent of Noh theater costumes (nou-shou-zoku), auspicious ones, and classical court ones. While keeping age-appropriateness in mind, it’s fun to create refined coordinates with gorgeous obi that use gold and silver threads mixed in with color ones!


Obi-age are plain or gradated rinzu silk, or beautiful fabrics like full shibori. Obi-jime are styles like yurugi weave in dignified colors.

Naga-juban are lined and collars are white shioze habutae silk. Additional fake collars can be layered to suggest an elegant effect.

Footwear is zouri in “enamel” (vinyl) or saga-nishiki brocade. Colors should be bright and cheerful to coordinate with the kimono and suggest the beginning of spring. The heel should be a little high, to go along with the month’s gorgeous kimono.

Original Author’s Notes:

Coats used with houmongi and tsukesage are generally made of rinzu or mon-ishou and are the michiyuki type. To protect against the cold, warm items made of things like velvet and cashmere are must-haves. Also, for cold weather you can put in another layer of lining on the sleeves of your naga-juban with the same fabric as the outside of it.


Bright colors like pink, blue, cream, beige, young grass green, or auspicious colors like deep green (fuka-midori), deep red/crimson (kurenai), madder red (akanei-iro), gold (kin), silver (gin).


Lucky patterns like the auspicious set of pine, bamboo, and plum (shou-chiku-bai), scattered treasures (takara-zukushi), as well as court patterns, “famous imported patterns”, snow on bamboo leaves, a holly-like plant (sen-ryou), coralberry (man-ryou) and Chinese winter camellia (kan-tsubaki).

Flowers Associated with January

The set of pine, bamboo, and plum, old pine trees (rou-shou), young pine (waka-matsu), pine in stylized diamond shapes (matsu-bishi), old pine trees (ume-no-koboku), weeping plum (shidare-ume), vertical plum branches (yari-ume), plum blossoms and branches done in a circular pattern (ume-no-maru), nandina (nanten), willow (yanagi) specifically a decorate cord made of tied-together willow (musubi-yanagi), winter peony (kan-botan), Thunberg spirea (yuki-yanagi)

Patterns Associated with January

Crane (tsuru), tortoise (kame), red-crowned crane (tanchou-zuru), folded paper cranes (ori-zuru), sparrows in winter (kan-suzume), bush warblers in plum blossoms (ume-ni-uguisu), auspicious patterns like phoenixes (hou-ou), scattered treasures, treasure ships (takara-bune), open folding fans (sen-men), colored paper (iro-gami) because of the New Year’s “first writing of the year” (kaki-zome), small narrow papers (tanzaku), toy balls (ke-mari), the character for long life (kotobuki 寿), and the character for good fortune (fuku ).

Original Author’s Notes

On wearing lined kimono for the celebration of the New Year: There are many times of year that call for formality in the tea room, but this time of year we can truly experience a ceremonial atmosphere as many people wear formal kimono like irotomesode, houmongi, and layered white habutae collars. Young women wear formal kimono like furisode or houmongi.

For the first tea ceremony of the year, we can also wear tsukesage or iromuji. Either way, all kimono should have a family crest. Kimono patterns should be auspicious ones, classical court patterns of a formal variety, plants and flowers, or the like.

For kimono patterns, try to avoid very large or showy ones as they will throw you out of harmony with your surroundings. For kimono worn this month, fukuro obi match best. Choose obi in heavy brocade featuring noble and dignified patterns like those mentioned above.


Kimono are lined and made of materials like rinzu, mon-ishou, chirimen, tsumugi (pongee). Finely patterned designs of blizzards or small hail, seigaiha (stylized ocean waves), small arabesques, kikkou (stylized tortoise shell), shikishi (paper boards used for writing), and other seasonal patterns are appropriate.

In the case of chirimen, hitokoshi chirimen or kawari-chirimen are good choices.

Colors are warm, quiet ones such as navy (kon), purple-red (aka-murasaki), ink black (sumi), bracken green (warabi-midori), and yellow ochre (oudo).

For tea ceremonies held at night, pale colors will look nice in the darkness of the tea room. Also, remember that the first half of February is still winter while the last half marks the beginning of spring, so outfits will need to be coordinated appropriately.


It’s easy to suggest the coming season by wearing a dyed Nagoya obi featuring early-blooming spring flowers.


Obi-age change to plain rinzu, while you can play around more or less with which type of  obi-jime you’d like. Naga-juban are lined. Han-eri (collars) are white shioze habutae or chirimen.

Footwear features colors like navy, wine red (enji), tea brown (cha), and scarlet (aka): strong colors that are clearly defined. Zouri with heels that are a little high are nice.


Light crimson (usu-beni), egg yellow (tamago-iro), young shoot green (wakana-iro), celadon (aoji-iro), navy, purple-red, and ink black.


Plum (ume), daffodil (suisen), camellia (tsubaki), holly (hiiragi). The first third of the month should show the last traces of winter, while the last third of the month should suggest spring.

Flowers Associated With February:

Plum, rosegold pussy willow (neko-yanagi), winter flowering quince (kan-boke), bracken sprouts (sawarabi)

Patterns Associated With February

Barren trees in winter (fuyu-kodachi), light snow (awa-yuki), stylized overlapping pieces of broken ice (kori-wari), bush warbler (uguisu),  and for Setsubun (Bean Throwing Festival) picture prayer boards (e-uma) and bells (rin).

Original Author Notes

About Lined Kimono for the First Day of Spring (around Feb. 4): The day before the First Day of Spring is the Setsubun festival. On Setsubun, in order to ward off evil spirits fish/dragon scale patterns (uroko) and “seven color cords” are good choices for patterns.

On this day we can see many people using red, white, purple, yellow, green, blue and gold for obi-jime colors and fish/dragon scale patterns on obi.

If you’d like to use a seasonal pattern, go with snow. Snow on bamboo leaves (yuki-mochi-sasa), stylized snowflake rings (yukiwa), blizzards, large snowflakes (botan-yuki): there are a lot of patterns using it!

Another favored pattern is plum blossom, a prized flower of early spring. The first to bloom, its chaste beauty appears in the deep cold of winter. It is also considered an auspicious flower. 

When it comes to variations like plum branches (eda-ume) and stylized plum blossoms (kourin-ume), there are many designs but ones done in the bright, sharp colors of spring are best, don’t you think?


nofixedstars said...

thank you! arigato!

Liana said...

Fabulous, fabulous translation work. Thank you very much for taking on this project!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for translating these! It's the best list of seasonal motifs I've seen anywhere! I ran a panel on kimono formality, seasonality, and motifs for Otakon 2014, which talked about the different types of kimono, obi, musubi, decoration techniques, accessories, and motifs, and I could not have done nearly as much with seasonal motifs without this. My co-panelist and I found our own pictures, very briefly summarized each month, and credited you at the end of the panel. Again, thank you for all the work! Now I see seasonal motifs on every kimono I see!

Christina said...

You're welcome, everyone!

Pasquey Anne, I'm glad to hear you found it interesting and useful for your panel. :) Having done panels myself, I know how much hard work they can be. Keep spreading the kimono love!

Unknown said...

The link for July doesn't work. I'm trying to put together a furisode outfit for late July. This is the most comprehensive guide in English online andeven though its not active I wonder if I could get some help?@

Christina said...

Hi! I just tried it and it works for me. Could you reload and try again?

Unknown said...


I know this a couple of years old but it has been an invaluable resource for me in trying to put together seasonal maiko henshin costumes. Firstly, thank you so much for putting the effort into translating it. It is fascinating.

When I was in Japan in October I purchased a vintage furisode which has become a curiousity for me. It has sakura blossoms on it which suggests it should be worn in April, but also has cranes which I thought were a january pattern? I was wondering if you could shed any light on this curiousity? At the moment I'm using it as my 'early april' maiko kimono because of the sakura, but I'd be curious to get the opinion of someone more knowledgable.

Best Wishes


Christina said...

Hi Emma, and thanks for your comment! Cranes are considered an auspicious, seasonless pattern so they can be worn year-round. Opening fans is another motif like this.

As a further note, in daily wear, sakura are so loved in Japan that my kimono teacher told me they too can function as a year-round pattern, but as you're doing maiko henshin I'm like you and would stick with the stricter interpretation given the formality and tradition that goes into their outfits. Have a great spring and good luck with your outfit! :)

JulietPenguin said...

Thanks, I just posted this on my facebook page: Juliet Penna in Clemson, SC. If you see a problem let me know. This is an amazing resource.
My love for kimono is new and exciting!

Christina said...

Oh, thank you! And thank you for the heads up. No problem at all. Enjoy! :D

Katariina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katariina said...

Hello, I wish to ask why there is always two different set of colors in every month? For example in April, there is written: "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." and later there is a section: Colors, 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. I don't understand the idea, especially that colors in both sections differ. Could you please explain it to me? Thank you! And your blog is simply gorgeous, so thank you for the huge amount of work you did on this!

AliceW said...

Hello, thank you for the wonderful post. I am trying to figure out what season this is in the picture. Can you tell by the color of the kimono? The heron in the doorway? I assume the stand on the left is an oil lamp, not a heating device.
I am not sure that I can add an image here, so here is the link to the Wikimedia page.

Mizuno Toshikata

Aka said...

Thank you for your hard work, it really came in handy for a project I am working on, I thought I was going to need to translate a book I have for the people helping me. But this really saved the day.

I referenced your post here and credited you.