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!

Tsubaki – Japanese Camellia-

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
  • glue
  • tweezers
  • wet paper towels for cleaning your fingers


1.Make 3 petals with Maru-tsumami. (“How to make Maru-tsumami” link here.)

2. Open up the petals before the glue dries.

3. Glue petals on the paper disc. Put them more towards the inside of the center.

4. Put the bottom edge between the paper disc and underneath the petal before the glue on the paper disc dries.

5. Put the edge of one side of the petal between the paper disc and underneath the petal beside it before the glue on the paper disc dries.

6. Glue the other side of the edge of the petal on the petal beside it while shaping the petal.

7. Bind up the craft flower stamens with wire. One characteristic of Tsubaki is its gorgeous thick stamens, so use plenty for this flower.

8. Glue the stamens to the center of the flower.

9. Let the glue dry.

10. Done!