Ultimate Guide to Hanakotoba: The Japanese Language of Flowers

This guide explores the history, origins, and present-day meaning of Hanakotoba, plus we’ll share 35 of the most popular types of flowers and their symbolism in the Japanese Language of Flowers. 

What Is Hanakotoba?

Directly translated, hanakotoba means “flower words.” It’s also sometimes referred to as the Japanese language of flowers.

The History and Origins of Hanakotoba

Although flowers have had a symbolic place in mythology, religion, and culture for almost as long as humans have had mythologies, religions, and cultures, the tradition of hanakotoba is not even close to ancient.

Hanakotoba and Ikebana

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. This practice dates back much further than hanakotoba with the earliest mentions of it in poetry from the Heian period (794 to 1185).

Where Can You Find Hanakotoba in Japan?

Since it is, at its heart, a form of communication, the practice of hanakotoba appears in several places within Japanese culture.

Traditional Events and Ceremonies

Regular flower arrangements, bouquets, garlands, wreaths, and ikebana designs are commonly used to decorate and adorn special occasions, celebrations, ceremonies, and traditional events .

Anime and Other Popular Culture

Hanakotoba also has a significant presence in Japanese music, comics (manga), and animation (anime).

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