Traditional Japanese Patterns - What do they mean?

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 proper significance!



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



Yukiwa is a Japanese-style pattern with the theme of snowflake crystals. It is considered a good sign because the melted snow nourishes the plants in the mountain. Not only in the winter, but also in the summer, yukiwa is often used for its cool moral. The pattern can be a single yukiwa, and sometimes other patterns can be embedded in the yukiwa.



Hishi pattern is derived from the herbaceous aquatic vegetation - "Hishi". Because the hishi has very strong productivity, the hishi pattern is a Japanese pattern with the meaning of prosperity and impending ill fortune.



Shippo is actually the seven patterning treasures in Buddhism. "Shippo pattern" is a shape overlapped by several circles, and is also commonly used in Japanese patterns. So the overlapping circles stand for the meaning of "happy ending".



Tatewaku is a Japanese pattern that expresses the rise of stream. Since ancient times, people think the rise of stream is very auspicious, so the tatewaku is also regarded as auspicious Japanese pattern, which is often used with others Japanese patterns. For example, the "kikutatewaku" with kiku (chrysanthemum), the "kumotatewaku" with kumo (cloud), and the "namitatewaku" with nami (wave). Among them, as a noble Japanese pattern, the "kumotatewaku" was often used in the costumes or ornaments of ancient nobles.


Namichidori is a kind of Japanese pattern in which the chidori flies in the nami (wave). The wave symbolizes the worldly concerns, its moral is no matter how big the wave is, people shall overcome it, so such pattern represents the eternal love of couples and family safety.



The Uroko pattern is a kind of pattern with the motif of scales. It is a design formed by connecting many triangles together. In Japan, this pattern makes people think about snake scales and thus carries the meaning of taking off bad luck and repelling evil spirits due to molting. From ancient times, it has been used as a pattern with the effect of warding off ill luck.



By patterning the mesh when weaving baskets with bamboo, it is known as Kagome pattern. Two regular triangles put up in an up-and-down structure looks like the rokubosei (hexagram) which has the power of driving out evil, so people believe that it has the effect of eliminating demon.

What do you think? If you are looking for something in Japan to ward off ill luck, please be sure to take this article as a reference!

Blog Reference: Manga de Japan

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