Vibe in Colors

Colors of Japan: Unlocking the Symbolism in Kimonos and Traditions

The Meaning and Significance of Colors in Japanese CultureColors play an integral role in Japanese culture, symbolizing various meanings and traditions. From elaborate kimonos to the vibrant hues seen in festivals and artwork, each color conveys its unique message.

In this article, we will explore the traditional meanings of colors in Japan, focusing on the significance of obi color in a kimono and the symbolism associated with different shades.

Kimono Color Meanings

Importance of Obi Color

– The obi, a wide sash worn around the waist, is a crucial element of a kimono’s overall appearance. – Funeral obis are typically black and worn by mourners, representing solemnity and respect for the departed.

– Wedding obis, on the other hand, are typically adorned with vibrant colors, symbolizing joy and celebration.

Traditional Meanings of Kimono Colors

1. White Kimono:

– White symbolizes purity, truth, and cleanliness.

– It is often worn during traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies to represent the bride’s innocence and purity. 2.

Colorful Obi:

– A lively and colorful obi paired with a white kimono indicates festivity. – It is commonly seen during festivals and celebratory occasions.

3. Red Kimono:

– Red symbolizes strength, passion, and vital life force.

– Brides may wear red kimonos during the ceremony to invoke good luck and happiness. 4.

Black Kimono:

Black represents mystery, non-being, and death. – It is mainly worn during funerals or by stage performers to enhance their presence.

Traditional Colors of Japan and Their Meanings

Red and White

– Red signifies strength, passion, self-sacrifice, and blood. – White represents snow, purity, truth, death, and mourning.

– The combination of red and white is commonly associated with auspicious events and celebrations.


Blue is associated with coolness, passivity, fidelity, and is considered a lucky color. – It is often used in traditional prints like ukiyo-e to depict serene landscapes and tranquil scenes.


Green evokes a sense of freshness, restfulness, and vitality. – It is closely associated with the color of nature, tea, youth, and eternity.

Greenery Day, a Japanese national holiday, celebrates the importance of nature and green spaces.

Gold and Silver

– Gold symbolizes wealth, prestige, and prosperity. – Silver represents precision, masculinity, and high-tech strength.

– These colors are often used in traditional crafts such as lacquerware and ceramics to signify luxury.


Black signifies the unknown, mystery, night, and anger. – It is also associated with mourning and is traditionally worn by family members during funeral ceremonies.

– The color black is also tied to hair and eyes in Japanese culture.


Brown represents the earth, strength, durability, and tea. – It is often seen in traditional woodwork and pottery, emphasizing natural materials and earthly qualities.


Pink symbolizes femininity, youth, and good health. – It is often used in cherry blossom motifs, reflecting the fleeting beauty of nature and the arrival of spring.


Yellow represents sunshine, nature, and caution. – It can denote warning signs and inexperience.

– The color is also associated with a shrill voice and is used to depict vibrant fall foliage.


Purple is associated with royalty, warriors, and strength. – It was historically reserved for the nobility due to its rarity and difficulty to produce.


Orange symbolizes love, happiness, civilization, and knowledge. – It blends the passion of red and the vibrancy of yellow, creating a color that embodies warmth and enthusiasm.


Colors hold great significance in Japanese culture, with each hue representing a particular emotion or tradition. From the elegant obi color choices in kimonos to the symbolism attached to various shades, understanding these meanings can deepen our appreciation for Japanese art, clothing, and festivals.

Embrace the beauty of colors in Japan and let them inspire you in your own life.

Popular Posts