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!


A yukata is a thin kimono that Japanese wear for summer festivals and events. Nowadays, it has also become a kind of special summer fashion. 

Photo by Quu1ed1c Bu1ea3o on

It began as a garment worn for steam baths during the Heian era. Later, when people started bathing in water, it transitioned to after-bath wear. Being associated with relaxation, people also wore it at home—kind of like how people nowadays wear pajamas around the house. Despite looking similar to a formal kimono, Japanese people actually consider Yukata to be casual clothing.

There are some structural differences between mens’ and womens’ yukata. Women’s yukata have open parts under the armpits called Miyatsu-guchi. Another difference is length. Men’s length depends on their height, but you can fold women’s around the waist to the length you prefer. (The folded part is called ohashori.)

While mens’ and womens’ yukata have differences, there is one thing that both genders absolutely must do. You always need to fold the left side over the right side. It’s very important to remember, because wearing a kimono with the right side on top is how we dress the deceased for funerals. Wearing it like that means that you’re dead! 

A long time ago, making yukata was seen as women’s work. Girls even learned how to make yukata at school until recently. I remember both my grandma and great grandma making yukata for my sister and I when I was still in preschool. It’s one of my happy memories about yukata.

Hanabi, Fireworks

Summer is here, and one of the most important things about summer in Japan is hanabi! Hanabi means “fireworks” in Japanese. It is written using the characters for “flower” and “fire.” We enjoy watching fireworks at summer festivals, and having fun with sparklers with family and friends.

I love watching fireworks. From a closer distance, it’s a more sensory experience. The boom of the explosion, the sudden brightness, vivid colors, smoke, and crackles as the sparks spread across the night sky! Even the silence takes on a presence once the show comes to an end. 

From far away, the delay between color and sound is like lightning and thunder. The fireworks are smaller, but they blend together with the scenery to highlight the landscape. I think it’s yet another way to enjoy them.

So today, I would like to write about Japanese fireworks.


In Japan, summer fireworks have a deeper meaning than just entertainment. The “Bon” holiday happens in the middle of August. We believe that departed souls return to their family during this holiday, so we build a fire as a beacon to guide their souls back to this world. Once Bon is over, we send them off with prayers as they return to the afterlife. Some people say that fireworks serve this same purpose. There is a story of one shogun who sent off the souls of those who lost their lives to disease and famine with a fireworks display.

Japanese Fireworks

Aesthetically, Japanese appreciate fireworks’ homogeneousness and symmetricalness, so many Japanese fireworks are round like chrysanthemums and peonies. Firework artisans place immense importance on creating round, homogeneous “hoshi.” In Japanese, “hoshi” usually means star, but here it’s used for the explosive parts of the firework. Setting expertly crafted hoshi around a sphere creates a beautiful, flowerlike pattern that is appreciated not only for its colors, but as an expression of the artisan’s skill.

Here is a video from YouTube about Japanese fireworks making. It is in Japanese but you can still see how Japanese fireworks are made, as well as the artisan’s skill. If you watch it, pay particular attention to their motions, as they have honed their technique for years. You can also turn on Youtube’s translations in your language if you’d like.

Fireworks Festivals

During summer, especially July and August, there is a fireworks festival every weekend somewhere in Japan. Many people attend wearing yukata, traditional Japanese clothing for summer. (A yukata is like a thin kimono.) Fireworks festivals usually have many stands with food and games, so you will see people wearing yukata waiting in line for treats like shaved ice, one of the more popular festival eats.

In Japan, people can sponsor fireworks. They “buy the rights” to an individual or a group of fireworks, and an announcer reads a message when they are launched. Some people use them to show their gratitudes to loved ones. Some festivals are even competitions where fireworks artisans compete with each other to create the best display. 

Many festivals have been cancelled recently because of the pandemic. However, if you have a chance to visit Japan in the future, visiting a fireworks festival will be a great experience. Don’t miss the chance to wear a yukata, either!