Making Asagao (Japanese Morning Glory) with Tsumami-zaiku

You can find Asagao, the Japanese morning glory, in almost all colors, but it is usually blue, purple, or pink. So today I would like to make a simple blue Asagao tsumami zaiku flower with white stripes.

You’ll be learning new techniques this time! The first is making a corn-shaped base, and the next is turning petals inside out. They may be a little bit hard at first, but don’t worry! You can do it!

You will need:

  • five 1.5 (3.8 cm) inch blue cloth squares 
  • five 1 (2.5 cm) inch white cloth squares 
  • one 1 (2.5 cm) inch round thick paper disc
  • one 1.5 (3.8 cm) inch white cloth square 
  • decorations for the center (see my examples!)
  • glue
  • tweezers
  • wet towel to clean your finger

How to make:

1.Make a base.

a. Slit the paper disc halfway and glue about ¼ of it.

b. Put some glue on the convex side and put 1.5 inch white cloth on.

c. Cut off the excess cloth and glue the cloth inside (concave side).

2. Make 5 petals with blue cloths using Maru-tsumami.

3. Make 5 petals with white cloths using Ken-tsumami.

4. Cut the bottom parts of white petals.

5. Turn the blue petals inside out.

6. Put glue on the disc and place your blue petals evenly.

7. Put some glue on the bottom of your white petals and place them between the blue petals.

8. Put some glue on the sides of blue petals and glue them together with the white petals between each other.

9. Let the glue dry.

10. Put some decorations on the center if you like.

11. Done!

Bonus: Making a Asagao leaf

You will need:

  • one 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) green cloth square
  • two 1 inch (2.5 cm) green cloth squares
  • glue
  • tweezers
  • wet towel to clean your finger

How to make:

1.Make Maru-tsumami with the 1.5 and 1 inch cloths.

2. Put some glue on the side of the peak of the 1.5 inch Maru-tsumami and stick 1 inch Maru-tsumami on each side.

3. Let the glue dry.

4. Done!

Asagao, Japanese Morning Glory

One of the most popular summer flowers in Japan is Asagao,  the Japanese morning glory. We write it with the characters “morning” and “face.” Just like in English, it was named because it only flowers in the morning.

It was brought to Japan around 1200 years ago by Japanese ambassadors returning from China. It was actually cultivated because of its seeds, which were used for medicinal purposes. But because Asagao starts blooming around the Tanabata season, people grew to love the flower itself because of its relation to the star festival’s legend. 

Its Chinese name is “Kengyu,” another name for Hikoboshi, the cattle herder from the Tanabata story. Since “Kengyu” means pulling a cow, and the seed was very valuable as a medicine at that time, a person who was sent the seed visited the sender’s place to thank them by pulling a cow. 

Photo by Julissa Helmuth on

In the Edo era,  people started calling the flower “Asagao Hime” and associated it with Orihime, the weaver from the Tanabata legend. People started thinking that Orihime and Hikoboshi could see each other if the flower bloomed, so the flower became a bringer of good fortune. It became so widely grown that by the end of the Edo era, people had cultivated more than 1,200 breeds. 

Since it’s very easy to grow, modern day Japanese students often grow it for a science project in school—myself included! And since it’s very resilient to the heat, some people grow it like a curtain during summer for shade. Its leaves absorb so much heat that it makes it as cool as standing in the shadow of a tree.

I would like to share “How to Make the  Asagao Flower” in my next post, so see you soon!

Making a Hanabi-like Flowers “Peony” with Tsumami-zaiku

Have you tried making “chrysanthemum” flowers with Tsumami-zaiku? Today I would like to share how to make “peony” flowers. I’m going to use orange and yellow colors again like last time. But you should use whatever your favorites are. Pick 2 or 3 colors that you think will make your hanabi flowers beautiful!

My blog about “Hanabi, Fireworks” link is here!


Photo by Min An on

You will need:

  • eight 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) orange square cloths
  • eight 1 inch (2.5 cm) white square cloths
  • eight 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) yellow square cloths
  • one 1 inch round thick paper disc
  • glue
  • tweezers
  • wet towels to clean your finger

How to make:

1. Make 8 petals of each size of cloth with Maru-tsumami.

2. Put glue on the paper disc and glue on the 0.75 inch square cloth petals evenly.

3. Put the 1 inch petals between the 0.75 inch petals.

4. Put some glue on the 1.5 inch petals’ peak side and slide them between the 1 inch petals.

5. Reshape the flower before the glue dries completely.

6. Put a little glue on the side of 1.5 inch petals and glue them next to each other. 

7. Let glue dry

8. Put some decorations with glue on the center.

9. Done!

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Emblems

Did you notice the emblems from the Tokyo Olympics 2020? The deep blue and white checkered pattern was called “harmonized chequers emblems.” It appears to be a very modern design, but actually has strong influences from Japanese tradition. 

Did you know that a checkered pattern is used in traditional Japanese design? Maybe you’ve seen the Japanese anime “Demon Slayer” and have seen how the main character, Tanjirou, wears a green and black checkered jacket?

Ichimatsu pattern with green and black colors

We call this checker pattern “Ichimatsu pattern.” It is named after a handsome kabuki actor from ancient Tokyo, which was named “Edo” about 300 years ago. Ichimatsu Sanogawa wore a hakama (a kind of loose-fitting trousers) with a checkered pattern on stage once, and his pants were a huge hit. From then, people started calling it the “Ichimatsu pattern.” 

An image of a Kabuki actor
Hakama (a kind of loose-fitting trousers)

Prior to Ichimatsu, the pattern was called the “stone path.” The squares repeating continuously symbolizes eternity, a prosperous family, and a business expansion. We consider this pattern to bring good fortune. We use it for gifts, and some families use it in their family emblems. (Yes, Japanese families have traditional emblems!)

Some popular Japanese family emblems

The Tokyo emblems also have another traditional meaning. Its deep blue is called “Ai” in Japanese, which can mean indigo. Cloth dyed in indigo becomes antibacterial, odor eliminating, insect proof, and flame resistant. Because of its many useful properties, it was used widely in daily life—as well as the uniforms of the Edo firefighters. Indigo is sometimes used to represent Japan, and people call it “Japan Blue.” 

Kendo (Japanese style fencing) also uses Ai (indigo)
Edo firefighters

This deep blue color is also called “Kachi-iro.” The sound of “kachi” means victory, so samurai wished for victory by wearing deep blue clothes. By the way, Japan’s national soccer team uses it as their team color, and are called “Samurai Japan.”

This post ended up being a bit different from my normal blog post, but I really wanted to share with you how the 2020 Olympics emblem design represents Japan—particularly Tokyo. Kabuki, woodblock printing, the indigo-wearing samurai and the city’s firefighters, are all closely associated with Edo, ancient Tokyo.

“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai Katsushika

I hope you enjoyed this article.

If you are interested in Japanese family emblems, here is a link to “Kamon no Iroha” which means “ABC’s of Japanese family emblems.” This site is in Japanese but you can still enjoy looking at them.

And about Japanese traditional patterns, here is a link to “Dentou Monyou” which means “Traditional (Japanese) Patterns.” This site has English translations.