Culture/History Kimonos

Kikyo (“Japanese Bellflower”)


What kind of flower is Kikyo?

Japanese bellflower, Kikyo, is a vivid purple, five petal flower which is the symbol of unchanging love, honesty, and obedience. Kikyo is often used as patterns in Kimonos and Obi, a belt for Kimonos, and also used as family crests (“Kamon” in Japanese) which is called “Kikyo-Mon.” The flower come into bloom at the end of summer and is intimately associated with the autumn season in Japanese culture. The Kikyo flower print in the picture is the Obi from my grandmother who used to wear it with semi-formal kimono. In Japanese culture, beautiful materials, designs, art piece, etc. are incorporated into something that we use on a daily basis, such as clothes, tableware, furniture, etc., which are often inherited from one generation to the next.


In Japan, Kikyo is a very popular plant and is considered one of Japan’s “Seven Flowers of Autumn.” The Seven Flowers of Autumn have always been a popular topic in haiku and other Japanese literature. In the Heian era (794 -1185), these flowers were common in the gardens of the aristocracy. Ogata Kōrin, a Japanese painter, lacquerer and designer of the Rinpa school, also drew the flower in Kosode with autumn flower-plants pattern on twill weave fabric (See a picture below).

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