Hanakotoba is the ancient Japanese art of assigning meaning to flowers. In many cultures flowers can be seen as having some deeper meaning than just their pleasant smell and appearance. During the Victorian Era, in the western world, Floriography assigned specific coded meanings to different flowers. Even today florists still pair certain emotions and meanings to specific flowers. Red roses symbolize love and passion, while the mimosa, represents chastity.

Hanakotoba (花言葉 ) the Language of Flowers.

The Japanese took this idea of giving specific meaning to different flowers to its ultimate level with Hanakotoba, the language of flowers. Hanakotoba is a nuanced language that was created to help communicate one’s feelings and thoughts to another through the presentation of flowers. Even the different colors of a specific flower could mean very different things. A red poppy meant fun-loving, while a white poppy was a symbol of rejoicing, and a yellow poppy meant success. Click here for a list of meanings that flowers have in Hanakotoba.

The importance of flowers can be seen throughout Japanese culture. The Imperial Seal of Japan is a Chrysanthemum, or Kiku. The Cherry Blossom, or Sukura, is the national flower, and is celebrated with festivals throughout Japan every spring. The art of arranging flowers, or Ikebana, is even one of the three arts of refinement in Japan, along with the tea ceremony and incense appreciation.

Ikebana (生け花) the Art of Arranging Flowers

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It has been practiced in Japan for over 600 years and is more than simply putting flowers in a container. Ikebana has it’s roots in Buddhist ritual and is a disciplined art form that is steeped in philosophy and nature. There are many styles of Ikebana, each with it’s own specific method of arrangement. There are now thousands of schools that teach the art of Ikebana throughout the world. Below is short documentary that goes into the history and styles of Ikebana.

Flowers and Olaf Olsson Neckwear

Many of my Olaf Olsson neckties and bow ties in the Tales of Japan Collection use Japanese fabric that heavily feature flowers. These flowers are not just for aesthetics, they also serve a deeper purpose. They function both as something to look at, but also something to think about and talk about as well. Each flower has it’s own meaning and history that can be looked further into. Here are some examples:

Dots and Stripes Necktie and Batwing Bowtie
The Dots and Stripes Necktie has two versions of multi colored Chrysanthemums in it’s pattern. In Japan Chrysanthemums have many meaning, it can represent longevity, but can also represent love. Wear the Olaf Olsson necktie or bow tie as a sign that you're going to live a long life, or give it to someone you love to show the depth of your affection.

Steel Ume Necktie and Bowtie
Ume means plum in Japanese. The Steel Ume necktie and bow tie are made from high quality cotton from Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. They are printed with steel gray, white and red plum tree flowers that represent good luck and protection from evil spirits. Wear these ties and they will bring you good health, good luck, and a little protections from the forces of evil.

Denim Roses Necktie and Bowtie
The Denim Roses necktie and batwing bow tie are made from a light-weight Japanese Denim that is printed with multi colored roses. Like in the West, roses in Japan are used to convey romantic intentions. You can decide whether the roses symbolize your love for denim or for something or someone else.

Mini Flowers Necktie and Bowtie
The Mini Flowers necktie and bow tie has a variety of small printed flowers. You can decide what their meaning is to you.

Click here to see our Pinterest Board on Hanakotoba and Ikebana

May 06, 2017 — Olaf Olsson