The “tsubaki” is the Japanese camellia. It is an ancient flower mentioned in Japan’s oldest collections of poems, “The Anthology of Myriad Leaves,” about 1250 years ago.
One facet of Japanese culture that people might find interesting is “kigo,” which means seasonal words. As the name implies, these are sets of words associated with particular seasons. Kigo are often used in poetry and art to signify when the poem or painting takes place. For example, tsubaki bloom vibrant red even in the bleak, colorless winter, so if a haiku uses the word tsubaki, it is understood that it is winter-themed.
I’d like to show you how to make your own tsubaki with tsumami zaiku. Maybe you could wear it this winter!
You’ll learn a new technique for this accessory. Tsubaki need fewer parts than the previous flowers we’ve made, but the technique is a little more difficult. After some practice, I’m sure you will find your way. Remember that tsumami zaiku isn’t hard; it just takes patience. Don’t give up and enjoy making it!
How to make a Tsubaki:
You will need:
three 1.5 (3.8 cm) inch red cloth squares
one ¾ (1.9 cm) inch round paper disc (thick paper is better)
craft flower stamens for decorations for the center of the flower
“Mizuhiki” is a thin cord made from starched Japanese paper. The starch makes them stiffer, but still bendable enough to fold and tie for decorations. Similar to how gifts are wrapped with ribbons in the west, gifts in Japan are decorated with mizuhiki designs. Some are extremely elaborate, and because of their versatility, many beautiful accessories are also created with them.
There are different stories about mizuhiki’s origin. One is that when Japanese diplomats sent to China during the Sui dynasty returned home, they brought back gifts from the Sui sealed with red and white flaxen cord. Red and white cords then began to be used to seal gifts to the Japanese imperial household, but the custom eventually spread to gifts of all kinds.
We send money in envelopes for many celebrations in Japan. These envelopes are sealed and decorated with mizuhiki. Depending on the event, there are several traditions of design. Certain colors, numbers of cords, and the method used to tie the knots are all important. Mizuhiki have also become more artistic over time, and the techniques have been used to create many stunning designs.
Mizuhiki are a little difficult to find outside of Japan, but still you can use stiff cords to try making them. In the US, I’ve found that waxed beading cords are a bit similar, and use them in my own accessory designs.
The second Monday in January is Coming-of-Age Day in Japan. Ceremonies are held in each city to celebrate people turning 20 years old. In Japan, people are legally considered adults at age 20, and this holiday celebrates those who become adults during the school year.
Although the tradition has existed in one form or another since ancient times, it was made a national holiday in 1949. It was originally celebrated on January 15th, but Coming-of-Age Day was eventually changed to the second Monday in January. This gave people an extra day off over the weekend as part of Japan’s “Happy Monday System.”
People wear formal dress for the ceremony, so Coming-of-Age Day is one of the big opportunities for us to wear traditional Japanese clothes in modern culture. Most men choose to wear a western style suit, but many don “Haori-Hakama.” For women, it’s a chance to wear bright “Furi-Sode.”
“Haori-Hakama” is a type of kimono. “Haori” is a kind of jacket and “Hakama” is a kind of pants. The outfit is normally black, gray, and white, but some men choose to wear extremely colorful “Haori-Hakama” for their ceremony.
“Furi-Sode” is a type of kimono for young women traditionally associated with purity. “Furi” means swing and “Sode” means sleeve. The outfit has very long sleeves that swing when you move. The sleeves are used to display even more of the kimono’s beautiful patterns, which makes this version extra gorgeous and elegant. Accessories are also important to add a woman’s charm, so “Tsumami-Zaiku” hair ornaments are an important part of Coming-of-Age Day in Japan.
The ceremonies are very large events held in public places like gyms and concert halls, so many cities are cancelling them this year because of the Coronavirus. I really enjoyed Coming-of-Age Day in Japan, and I feel very sorry for those who are going to miss out. I hope that we will be able to have the ceremony next year, though.