Jump to: navigation, search


Motif Information
Motif Aoi 01.JPG
Rōmaji Aoi
English Hollyhock
Kana あおい
Season Summer
Seasonal Exceptions Winter
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Plant

Aoi is often translated as hollyhock, but the motif name refers to Wild Ginger (Asarum caulescens). Wild Ginger is not directly related to ginger at all, although its rhizomes do smell like ginger. It produces heart shaped leaves on tall stems and bell shaped flowers.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Aoi flowers in summer.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

During the Heian era aoi was believed to "prevent thunder and earthquakes." [1]

Auspicious Nature

Is motif auspicious? If so - explain. If not - remove header.

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

Aoi has distinctive heart-shaped leaves that often are depicted with two small swirls and star-remninescent lines inside, after the plant's natural veins. The leaves are often placed on delicate vines contrary to the plant's natural manner of growth.

Motif Examples

NOTE: See more relevant images in our corresponding gallery.

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Tokugawa mon

The most famous use of aoi mon is by the Tokugawa clan. Tokugawa Ieyasu retained the mon despite changing his name from Matsudaira Motoyasu and being offered a new mon by Emperor Go-Yōzei. Tokugawa Ieyasu founded the Tokugawa shogunate and ushered in the peaceful Edo era (1600-1868). The Tokugawa shoganate's reign came to an end with the Meiji Restoration. The aoi mon remains in use by the main (Tokugawa) and the branch (Matsudaira) clans.

In Tale of Genji, the protagonist's first primary wife (kita no kata) is traditionally called Aoi-no-Ue (葵の上, "Aoi of Above [rank]"). Following a longstanding tradition of giving easy-to-remember names to Genji characters- who, in the text, are often confusingly referenced by their changing ranks or locations- Aoi derives her monicker from the title of Chapter 9 ("Aoi" / "Heartvine"), the last chapter in which she appears.

In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

  • Link to any relevant threads on IG


  1. Haga, Hideo & Warner, Gordon. Japanese Festivals. Hoikusha Publishing. Osaka, Japan. 1968. p. 43

Image Credits

  • Please credit any image used with the exception of images from Immortal Geisha or Moonblossom's photo gallery or anyone else who stated they don't need crediting.

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: (# (IG Username))


  • Peccantis