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(Redirected from Hou-ou)
Motif Information
Motif houou 01.jpg
Rōmaji Hou-ou
English Phoenix
Kanji 鳳凰
Kana #
Season All-Season
Seasonal Exceptions None
Auspicious Template:Auspicious
Motif Type Mythological

Hou-ou means phoenix, a mythological creature imported to Japan from China. Phoenixes are often depicted as nesting in paulownia trees and eating bamboo.

Hou-ou were introduced from China to Japan in the Asuka period (between the 6th and 7th centuries CE).[1] Hou-ou are a composite animal containing a variety of elements which varied as it was adapted by the Japanese, but often include the neck of a snake and the tail of a peacock or pheasant.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Hou-ou kamon

Hou-ou are not associated with any one season due to their auspicious and mythological status. Hou-ou mon are associated with the imperial house. Mon containing hou-ou, kiri, and take together are reserved for the emperor, mon containing only hou-ou are often associated with the empress.

Common Motif Pairings

Hou-ou with kiri on hanafuda

Auspicious Nature

Hou-ou only appear in times of peace and prosperity or to mark the birth of a new leader or era. Its composite nature includes both male and female attributes and so is considered auspicious for weddings, where male and female are united.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

One of the most famous architectural depictions of hou-ou are the statues on the roof of the Phoenix Hall (鳳凰堂) at the Buddhist temple, Byōdō-in (平等院), in Kyoto. Fujiwara no Yorimichi had the Phoenix Hall built in 1053 to convert the earlier villa on the site into a Buddhist temple. The Phoenix Hall itself is commemorated on the back of the 10 yen coin and a depiction of the hou-ou on the roof decorates the back of the 10000 yen note.

In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

  • Link to any relevant threads on IG


  1. JAANUS Article on Hou-ou. Accessed March 11, 2013.

Image Credits

  • Kokoro
  • Muhvi
  • Sui

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: (# (IG Username))