In Japan, the Plum Blossom (Ume) is the first flower to bloom in spring. This, alongside the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) symbolises new beginnings. There are however a few variances between them. The plum represents longevity, renewal and perseverance. It has also been known to guard against evil spirits. Cherry Blossom also stands for renewal but in a more human, transient form. They are both a much loved feature on Kimonos of many different styles and within many different regions.
This 'Sakura’ Kimono is a perfect example & one of my favourites.
It has been made using a traditional ‘Meisen Ikat' weave, whereby the process of creation involves using a temporary weft which is widely spaced in a zig-zag pattern merely holding the warp in alignment. Coloured paste is applied to the warp threads through a stencil using a spatula. These stencils were traditionally made of mulberry paper. Each stencil is then very carefully placed into its next location and the pattern grows.
In many parts of Japan 'Hanami' (literally; blossom viewing) is a revered cultural festival during the early spring time. Plum, alongside Pine and Bamboo, collectively known as the ‘shōchikubai’, are considered the three friends of winter. The pine is evergreen and lasts the whole year, the bamboo, which bends yet never breaks and the plum is the first flower to blossom every year. A favourite for a winter Kimono as it signifies that Spring is not long away.