The Romantic Wisteria in Japanese Art and Landscape

    Wisteria, or fuji in Japanese, is a popular motif in Japanese art used to decorate a wide variety of art forms from pottery to paintings.  Wisteria blooms during May and June and its strikingly beautiful blossoms have always been appreciated for their color and shape.      The practice of hanami (flower viewing) is many centuries old, […]

Japanese Kites As Decorative Art

Made of bamboo frames and washi (handmade rice paper) and painted with bright colored dyes and sumi (black ink), Japanese kites (tako) appear throughout Japan. The word tako is written with two characters—one meaning wind and one meaning cloth. The popularity of kite flying in Japan can be inferred from a word in the Japanese […]

The Dragon as a Motif in Japanese Art

The dragon or ryu is probably the most famous of mythical creatures.  It represents the Yang of the universe.  The dragon motif came from western Asia, its origins derived from a snake cult.  Ironically, though represented as a fiery being, the dragon is actually a rain deity associated with water and possesses the power to […]

The Dragonfly (Tombo) as a Motif in Japanese Art

Tombo are known as Kachimushi or the ‘victory insect.’ The fact that they are quick to attack and catch other small insects in mid air and have such a fierce name, the tombo motif was a favorite among the warrior classes who used it on military implements such as helmets and especially arrow quivers–for both sword and arrow should fly straight and fast like the dragonfly. Tombo were often combined in designs using arrows as well as the iris motif with its straight sword-like leaves.

The Hare "Usagi" as a motif in Japanese art

There is an old Chinese/Taoist tale of a hare that resides in the moon and pounds the magic herbs to make the elixir of eternal life. The hare was considered sacred and was believed to live a thousand years–becoming white only when it had reached the end of the first five hundred years. This belief was assimilated by the Japanese who see the hare in the moon pounding mochi or rice cakes instead of magic herbs.

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