Color in Japan, a concrete and natural concept
Nature and colors: two inseparable notions in Japan
Due to its geography (only 20% of Japanese territory is habitable) and the numerous natural risks (tsunami, earthquakes, typhoons, etc.) nature is as much respected as feared by the Japanese. Japan is also distinguished by a wide variety of climates and by a very marked seasonality. Each change of seasons is widely celebrated and popular festivals are essentially based on nature in the broad sense (a variety of flowers blooming, the start of the rainy season, the appearance of white morning dew, etc.). The Japanese celebrate the beauty of their nature as much as its ephemeral nature. The most convincing example is the cherry blossom festival ( Hanami ) in the first days of April: as soon as they bloom, the flowers fly away with the slightest breath of wind.
Colors with strictly codified uses
Successive imperial courts have codified colors and their uses for centuries, even going so far as to prohibit certain shades from the people by reserving them for the highest dignitaries during particular ceremonies. The Murasaki color was, for example, reserved for the highest level of Japanese society. This color was then obtained thanks to the root of the gremil (small shrub with bluish flowers), the pigments of which were very difficult to fix. Each fabric of this color was invaluable. Another color which was then reserved for the empress and her ladies-in-waiting is the Fuji -iro shade, inspired by the flowers of the Japanese wisteria. As a general rule, the colors forbidden to the people were also implicitly prohibited by their cost and the difficulty of obtaining them. This is also the case for the Karakunerai shade made from pigment extracted from a plant, called dyers' safflower (also called dyers' saffron). Safflower is one of the oldest crops of humanity, it was already cultivated in 2000 BC. JC in Egypt.
- Podcast France Culture, Tastes and colors, Michel Pastoureau
- Blog by Frenchwoman Bénédicte, living in Japan for 10 years, a true expert in Japanese customs and traditions, her articles are fascinating and her photos are wonderful!
- The Color name site that I found by chance while writing this article. You will find absolutely all the existing colors, their definition, their complementary color, gradients, different patterns based on this same color.
- On Instagram, the colors.cafe account which will give you lots of ideas on original palettes and beautiful color combinations. Essential if you want to re-paint your kitchen :)