Say it with a bouquet: Japan’s language of flowers

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Red roses for love, the rose as June’s flower of the month… Although I have an avid interest in everything botanical, before becoming immersed in Japanese culture, I can’t say that I actively engaged with the meanings of flowers beyond the most popular ones above. But, in Japan, as well as sharing similar meanings as those found abroad, flowers have also been bestowed with their own unique cultural definitions. What’s more, this hana kotoba, or flower symbolism, is so widespread that it can be a useful shorthand for conveying a message to another person. 

Read on to discover how flower symbolism can help you master the always delicate art of gift-giving in Japan!

Flowers to Give Thanks


Pink Rose

In Japan, pink roses are seen as high in quality and have several meanings, such as graceful or ladylike. But, perhaps the most dominant one is giving thanks! Luckily there is a wide variety of pink roses to choose from in terms of color (salmon or peach or dusty, etc.) and variety (Eden Rose, Blush China Rose, Queen Elizabeth Rose etc.) so it is easy to personalize this gift.

Baby’s Breath

Japan also ascribes multiple meanings to baby’s breath, such as purity and innocence, but a common one is thankfulness. Pair these delicate flowers in a bouquet with pink roses and you will have a present with entirely consistent floral symbolism. What better way to show someone your appreciation than by gifting this power duo!

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Ah, cut flowers. Not to downplay the sentiment that people attach to flowers but, as a biologist, I've always found it a bit odd to, for instance, hand my beloved a bunch of resected floral sexual organs as a token of affection. And trying to imagine a parallel 'sentient' plant-being handing their beloved a bunch of, say, resected mammalian sex organs is, on rare and weird occasions, a fond mental exercise... but sentiment, like the beauty of cut 'flowers', is in the eye of the beholder. Somehow to me, they look so much better still attached to their plant.

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