Indigo is a natural dye made of fermented leaves of the indigo plant mixed with water. Due to the long history of use of this color system, some variations in color and names do exist. Today this word means blue, but for a very long time the word ao (青) was used to describe both the blue and green colors, and there was no difference between them culturally. Since the 13th century, the Japanese nobility would enjoy tea parties, and in the 15Th century the tea ceremony was born and became highly popular among the samurai. Read on to discover the interesting historical background and some unusual facts for some important colors in Japanese culture. 好きな色は何ですか。- What is your favorite … All Rights Reserved. And if you want to study more vocabulary about colors in Japanese and also how to read them in Japanese, make sure you check out this page talking about more colors. When foreigners were allowed to enter Japan during the Meiji period (1868-1912),they were so astonished at the fact that indigo blue was everywhere in Japanese towns that they called it “Japan blue” Kimono, bedding, hand towels, noren–Japanese people would  use it for everything. 黒黒 / 黒々 (kuroguro) - deep black. Hiragana | Many of the names of these colors originate from Chinese culture, where the hierarchical color system is even more complex. On the other hand, white color, which is an auspicious color, is always used in weddings. Subscribe to my Newsletter and get your free eBook. The mixture also actually prevented tooth decay. Later the word midori (緑) was more widely used to say green, but the use of ao to describe the green color is still reflected today in Japanese vocabulary. This flower is still picked today to make more traditional lipstick and is said to protect the beauty of Japanese women. Copyright © 1998–2020 Simon Ager | Email: | Hosted by Kualo,,,,, Japanese Uncovered - Learn Japanese Through the Power of Story, Japanese Conversations - Understand real Japanese, Learn Japanese online with JapanesePod101, Learn to speak Japanese confidently and naturally with Rocket Japanese, Learn Japanese online with dante-learning, Master Japanese: The Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide to Learning Nihongo, Japanese language learning material from White Rabbit Japan, Bite Size Languages - learn languages quickly, 珍中の珍 (chinchū no chin - rarity; black swan, 焼け野の鴉 (yakenonokarasu) - blacker than black, 暗紅色 (ankōshoku) 暗赤色 (ansekishoku) - dark red, 桜色 (sakura-iro) - cherry blossom coloured, 淡黄色 (tanōshoku) - pale yellow, light yellow, 朽ち葉色 (kuchiba-iro) - russet, tawny, yellow-brown, 山吹色 (yamibuki-iro) - bright golden yellow, 水色 (mizu-iro / suishoku) - light blue, pale blue, aqua, colour of water, 黄緑 (kimidori) / 浅緑 (asamidori) - light green, 草色 (kusa-iro) / 暗緑色 (anryokushoku) - dark green, 翠黛 (suitai) - hazy green, green eyebrow pencil, 暗褐色 (ankashoku) / 濃褐色 (nōkasshoku) - dark brown, 狐色 (kitsune-iro) 淡褐色 (tankasshoku) - light brown. Each shrine uses a slightly different red, but akani protects against rust because of the cinnabar mercury in it, and is meant as a protection from evil and disaster. 濡れ羽色 (nurebairo) - jet black. Nowadays this color is still used in a lot of Japanese items, even blue jeans. Take, for example,  aoba (green leaves) or aoume (green plums). Traditional Meanings of Colors in Japanese Culture, in the twelve level traditional rank system. Kuro 黒 - Black; Midori 緑 - Green; Mizuiro 水色 - Light blue; Momoiro 桃色 - Pink; Murasaki 紫 - Purple; Shiro 白 - White; Sukina iro wa nan desu ka. eval(ez_write_tag([[468,60],'omniglot_com-large-mobile-banner-1','ezslot_2',124,'0','0'])); Note: all links on this site to, and are affiliate links. While learning colors in English may be as simple as ROYGBIV, things in Japanese are a little different, of course! Colour words in Japanese. Even today, Shinto priests and their female helpers miko wear mostly white garments. In Japanese, there are names for colors, too, obviously, and in this post I'll talk a bit about them. Pitch black was considered a beautiful color, and until the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912) Japanese women (and some men) would dye their teeth black with dissolved iron and vinegar. In this system, rank and social hierarchy were displayed and determined by certain colors. Tower of Babel | Indigo, also called Japan blue, is called Ai (藍) in Japanese. the brown of a distant river), Legal dye (from when color use was regulated by class), Golden yellow (and a particular rose varietal), Japanese triandra grass (Themeda japonica), This page was last edited on 12 October 2020, at 23:36. However, the samurai loved the color black on their armors, as long as it was a lacquerware-like black offering beautiful reflects! Words for colours in Japanese with notes on their etymology and usage. eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'omniglot_com-box-3','ezslot_0',115,'0','0'])); Shades of black and black-related expressions, 白 / 白い (shiro / shiroi) - white; good guy; 'white hat', Shades of white and white-related expressions, Shades of red and red-related expressions, 黄色 (ki-iro / ōshoku / kōshoku) - yellow, amber, Shades of yellow and yellow-related expressions, 青 / 青色 (ao / ao-iro) - blue/green / ブリュ (buryu) - blue, Shades of blue and blue-related expressions, 緑 (midori) - green Instead of being based on 7 basic colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) the Japanese color system is thought of in different spectrums. You’ll be surprised how often you use color words to describe things on a daily basis. For these few colors, you can describe the object directly without using the の (no) particle. Links | However, in some parts of Japan fishermen still wear tattoos nowadays. What You Need to Know before Eating Ramen in Japan, 10 Japanese Language Tips That Will Make You Sound Fluent, The History of Hanami: The Japanese Tradition of Cherry Blossom Viewing, Greetings Used Before and After Meals: “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama”, How to Discover Your Purpose in Life and Help Others Do the Same: An Interview with Kasia, Japanese Cram Schools Are Not What You Think, Iwata-san: Learning about Life and Leadership in Japanese., Introduction to Japanese | So, they still call "aoi" different things that we consider green, like green traffic light, cabbage, or green caterpillar (yep. The samurai would wear ritual white clothes when committing seppuku ( better known in the West under the name hara kiri). The red is also believed to increase the power of the kami (the spirits worshipped in the Shinto religion). Black kite (bird species) 53,30,28 #351E1C 紅緋 : Benihi Blood red 243,83,54 #F35336 照柿: Terigaki Glazed persimmon 211,78,54 #D34E36 緋: Ake Scarlet (blood) 207,58,36 #CF3A24 江戸茶: Edocha Red-brown (Edo brown) 161,61,45 #A13D2D 紅柄色: Bengara-iro Dyestalk red (lit. During the Japanese civil wars (1467-1568), red was loved by the samurai and worn as a symbol of strength and power in battle. Colors known as yurushiiro (許し色, "permissible colors") were permitted for use by the common people. If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. However, purple became fashionable during the Edo period. By the way, this link above is an affiliate link, which means that I would earn a commission if you do end up purchasing the related learning course. During the Nara period, about 1,400 years ago, only high-level officials and the Imperial Family could wear purple clothes since the year 604, when the twelve levels cap and rank system was enacted in Japan. Surprisingly, the oldest use of the color black in Japanese culture was tattoos. As you can see, colors and their cultural meanings are far from being fixed but may vary depending on the culture and time period as well. In Japanese, all colors are treated as nouns, unlike English, which also considers colors to be adjectives.