Did you know that the traditional Japanese kimono motifs have a seasonality expression? That the kimono worn in the coldest parts of winter will look different from those worn in the peak of the summer heat? While the structure and shape of the kimono will remain largely the same, there will be differences in the motifs used, and also the liner of the kimono. Kimono for cooler and cold weather will typically be lined, while Japanese kimono for cool to warm weather will be unlined.
The motif on the kimono will largely dictate when the kimono should be worn. The concept of wearing certain motifs during different times and parts of the year goes back as far as the Hian period, if not further. We know a lot about the Heian period motifs and their rigid observation as a result of the Pillow Book, which was a Heian period personal diary from a noble lady of the time.
March is here, which means spring has arrived. So what motifs are commonly associated with march, and spring? A quick and easy way to figure a lot of the motifs out from the natural world is that they are commonly associated with the activity of that plant, such as when a specific flower blooms.
There are some differences in opinion as to when which motifs should be worn, so keep in mind these are not firm and rigid rules. After all, flowers bloom at different times based on how far north or south they are of the quarter. So while a flower may be blooming in southern Japan or in the southern parts of the USA it may not be in bloom in the northern regions until a few weeks later. There are also some schools of thought that encourage wearing certain flowers before they bloom. Though opinions vary widely, we can all agree that the motifs are beautiful.
March Kimono Motif Guide
Aoi - Also known as hollyhock, this beautiful plant has heart-shaped leaves. This plant also became the crest for the Tokugawa Clan. The upward-facing sun-loving leaves suggest hope for a bright future and ambition. There is a festival celebrating this plant dating back to the 7th century, Aoi Matsuri.
Warabi - This wild fern begins to grow in the early days of spring, and curls up out of the ground.
Sakura - The widely popular cherry blossom is also a flower associated with the early days of spring. Sakura can come in a variety of colors ranging from snow white, to blush pink. Depending on the stylization of this motif, it can be worn from March to April, or even all year round. It is a very popular flower, which rose to predominance in the Heian period.
Magnolia - These trees are renowned for their beautiful spring bloom around the world. The colors of the flowers of this tree range from pure white and pale baby pink, to deep purple.
Wisteria - Wisteria is sometimes associated with lovers, and is a popular plant worldwide. Its long hanging flowers and climbing ivy structure make them popular hanging fixtures in gardens. Even more dramatic is their use and application in bonsai.
Butterflies - With the arrival of spring and flowers butterflies will once more begin to flutter their way into the world. From spring to late summer butterflies are a fixture around the world.
All Year Round Patterns - Patterns that are designed to be worn all year can be worn in this period as well.
Without a doubt there are many more kimono motifs to talk about, however, this is intended to be a starting point for your own kimono journey. Don't forget that haori make for beautiful spring jackets.