HOME Even Japanese People Don't Know That?! The Meanings Behind Japan's Traditional Patterns
Even Japanese People Don't Know That?! The Meanings Behind Japan's Traditional Patterns

Even Japanese People Don't Know That?! The Meanings Behind Japan's Traditional Patterns

Date published: 31 July 2020
Last updated: 10 November 2020

Traditional Japanese designs, or Wagara, are a type of pattern peculiar to Japan.

The most well known of these take a single design and create patterns by placing the design systematically on fabric.

They're mostly used for kimono, packaging, and other goods and sundries, but not only are they ultra cute - they also have serious meanings behind them!

Wave Crest - Seigaiha

Wave Crest - Seigaiha

This design is made of rows of ocean waves forming a fan-shaped pattern.

It symbolizes the desire for continued peaceful living, like the tranquil waves.

Hemp Leaf - Asanoha

Hemp Leaf - Asanoha

This pattern was named after its resemblance to a hemp leaf.

It is connected to the ideas of growth and children's health, since hemp is durable and grows quickly.

Tortoise Shell - Kikkou

Tortoise Shell - Kikkou

This pattern is made of a bunch of tortoise shell shapes.

Tortoises have long been a symbol of longevity, so this pattern is also a prayer for long life.

Fletching - Yagasuri

Fletching - Yagasuri

This pattern is based on arrow fletching.

It is used as a lucky charm for weddings and other ceremonies, as it is based on the Japanese saying that, once an arrow is fired, it never returns.

Folding Fan - Uchiwa

Folding Fan - Uchiwa

A pattern made to look like an opened folding fan.
Fans stand for development and prosperity.

Your friends might be pleasantly surprised to get wrapping cloth or a towel as a souvenir using a pattern that stands for something they like.

If this interests you, research what kind of traditional Japanese Wagara patterns are out there before you next come to Japan!

Illustrations courtesy of Manga de Japan

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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