Monday, 22 October 2012


Just discovered this while looking for imagery to work from today - the Japanese language of flowers! I've long known about the old Victorian tradition of sending messages encoded in the choice and arrangement of flowers in bouquets, and had heard of a similar Japanese tradition, but never come across a list of meanings before:

彼岸花 /
Higanbana /
Red Spider LilyNever to meet again/Lost memory/Abandonment
The idea of never again and lost memories intrigues me as a way of expressing the losing of cultural identity, as a result of technological and societal "progress", but also that feeling of something missing that comes from individual isolation, due to modern expectations and lifestyle meaning people do not spend so much time together or at all. This is in direct contrast to the idea of a tea ceremony, where people gather together specifically to enjoy sharing each others company and tea together.

蓮華RengeLotusFar from the one he loves/Purity/Chastity

鷺草SagisoHabenaria radiataMy thoughts will follow you into your dreams

Nice image of the conscious going towards the unconscious - of waking ideas and things invading dreams, stable, sure things becoming evanescent and haunting, from established objects to transient shadows that cannot really be grasped, but stay with you. It strikes a chord with me somehow, but one I try not to think about because it makes me sad.

Anyway, much of the language has similarities to the English actually, and I wonder how many of the flowers listed here have been "borrowed" from floriography (Victorian flower language), as with other Japanese words like "Ti shaatsu" (T shirt). Red, white and yellow roses are the same in both languages, but the poppies are different however. I shall investigate further!

P.S. - I don't think much of their illustrative photographs. Violets are not purple pansies! :S


Just looked on one of the reference pages on wiki:

This seems much more authentic! It seems some flower meanings date back to Roman and Greek mythology, hence similar meanings in different cultures today. However, I like the spin that has been put on the meaning of a rose in Japan:

I "language of flowers is suitable for you, Embarrassment, brilliant, shy charm, Fresh, innovative, love you, and I, All your cute, love, Beauty, innocence, refreshing whimsical " (Rose) "Innocent, refreshing" (rose vine) "Special achievement" (Rose Mini)  

This, roughly translated from google translate (haha), means that roses symbolise 
- Shy embarrassment
- All of you is cute/charming
- Charm
- Affection/love
- Whimsical beauty
- Innocence
- Brilliant
- etc

Shy embarrassment is typical of the Japanese romance I have seen portrayed, and gives an oriental twist to the plain English I love you, but I especially like the whimsical beauty idea - a beauty that does not do what you expect, or follow any of the usual rules. A unique, bohemian beauty :)

I also like the meaning of plum - "It is a tough beauty" - I like the idea of a beauty that can endure and shine in a harsh place where other beauty does not survive.

This site should also be useful for grouping together flowers in bloom at a similar time to give a more natural feel to imagery I use, as it gives flowering periods.

No comments:

Post a Comment