The Meaning & History of Traditional Japanese Patterns

We stock more than 300 patterns of Japanese Yuzen Washi paper in multiple sizes. Each sheet has beautiful and vibrant patterns that have been used in Japan for centuries and are inspired by nature throughout Japanese seasons and have their roots in Kimono patterns. 

Traditional Japanese Cherry Blossom Pattern Paper

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Pattern 
Cherry Blossom is one of the most famous blossoms from Japan and is considered one of the national flowers. Cherry Blossom patterns became popular among Japanese nobles first in the Heian period (794-1185), being used widely on clothes, furniture, dishes and many other things. These  patterns can be used for all occasions and seasons.  

Traditional Japanese Plum Blossom Pattern Paper

Plum Blossom (Ume) Pattern
Plum blossom was the most loved flower among Japanese people until the Nara period (710-794) due to a strong cultural influence at that time from southern China, where plum blossom originated. It blooms in late winter and has become a symbol of resilience and overcoming hardship. Its brief bloom and appealing scent in the cold air attracted people and poets. It was the most popular flower motif in Japanese poetry and stories at the time.

The difference between Plum and Cherry blossom crest is the petal. Cherry blossoms have a small split at the end of each petal and are slightly more pointed, whereas plum blossoms have no splits and are rounder.

Traditional Japanese Chrysanthemum Pattern Paper

Chrysanthemum (Kiku) Pattern
Chrysanthemum are Autumnal patterns in Japan and represent longevity and rejuvenation. They originated in China and were introduced into Japan during the Nara period (710-793). It was said that the beauty of Chrysanthemum resembles the nobles and became the Imperial Family Emblem. Nowadays, the Japanese government use the 16 petals seal for official documents such as passports.

Traditional Japanese Hand Fan Pattern Paper

Hand Fan (Ougi) Pattern
Hand fans represent a symbol of good luck in Japan. It's shaped to be wider the further you open it, to represent a bright and open future. These symbols have been used as crests and on kimonos since the Heian Period (794-1185).

Traditional Japanese Butterfly Pattern Paper

Butterfly Pattern
The Butterfly is a symbol of eternity and reincarnation due to the transformations it undergoes during its lifespan; a process that has attracted and mystified people since the Heian period (794-1185). Butterfly pattern was also used as a samurai's emblem as a symbol of immortality.

Traditional Japanese Deer's Spots Pattern

Deer's Spots (Kanoko) Pattern
Kanoko literally means “deer's spots”, a type of Japanese dyeing technique that produces the distinctive spot pattern. It was extremely popular in the Edo Period (1603-1868) and was seen as a symbol of wealth as these patterns took time to dye and were very expensive. 

Traditional Japanese Hemp Leaf Pattern Paper

Hemp Leaf (Asanoha) Pattern
Inspired by the shape of hemp leaves, this pattern is still popular presently in Japan. It was popularised by Kabuki actors whose fans then wore hemp patterns to watch performances. Hemp leaves grow straight to the sky so the patterns are also popular in infant clothing to wish for good health. 

Traditional Japanese Shippou Pattern Paper

Shippou Pattern
Shippou refers to the seven treasures of Buddhism: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, agate, seashell, amber, and coral. All of these are found on the Asian continent and were precious and rare products. Shippo also means "cloisonné," which refers to a decorating technique using metal strips and gems. The pattern represents these beautiful seven treasures inlaid in metal, in an infinitely repeating pattern.

Traditional Japanese Sayagata Manji Pattern Paper

Sayagata (Manji) Pattern
Sayagata also knows as Manji (Swastika) was introduced to Japan along with Buddhism in the Asuka period (538-710) from China. Manji originated in India and was spread along with Buddhist teachings throughout Asia. This is a pattern that broke the Sanskrit word Manji 卍 and connected to all the sides continuously.

Traditional Japanese Diamond Tortoiseshell Pattern Paper

Diamond Flower (Hanabishi) & Tortoiseshell (Kikkou) Pattern
This is a pattern of four flower petals in a diamond shape. It began to appear between the Heian (794-1185) and Kamakura (1185–1333) period used as kimono’s woven pattern and often combined with other patterns such as Tortoiseshell (Kikkou) pattern. Kikkou literally means “tortoiseshell” in Japanese. It is a hexagon pattern and it represents longevity in Japan. 

Japanese Sea Waves Pattern Seigaiha

Water Motif Pattern - Sea Waves (Seigaiha)
A wave design made of the arches of concentric semi-circles. The pattern originated in the Persian Empire and was introduced to Japan from China. This pattern was used in the costume of the gagaku, a type of ancient Japanese imperial court music and dances, named “Seigaiha”. It is said that the pattern represents the sea’s bounty which expresses the infinite spread, so it seems to represent the wish to be infinitely happy.

Japanese Water Motif Pattern Paper

Water Motif Pattern - Flowing Water (Ryu-sui)
Water motif patterns are historically famous throughout Japan's history. This flowing water (Ryu-sui) pattern is possibly the oldest water motifs in Japan. It is often combined with flower, plants or animal patterns.