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Motif Information
Romaji Koumori
English Bat
Kanji 蝙蝠
Kana こうもり
Season Summer
Seasonal Exceptions None
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Animal
Audio Coming Soon

There are 38 species of bats native to Japan, including four species of fruit bats.[1]


Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Text about seasonal use

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

Koumori are one of the motifs imported from China along with Chinese textiles. In China, 蝠 is read as fú, a homophone for happiness (福, fú), and bats are considered highly auspicious for this reason. [2] Common Chinese motif pairings include peaches and waves.

Many symbolic meanings come from the Chinese, such as:

Bats with clouds: hong fu qi tian, a wish for vast happiness to the heavens.

Bat with coins: fu dao yan qian, a wish for happiness to arise before one's eyes.

Bat with peaches: fu shou shuang quan, a wish for happiness and a long life.

Bat with a musical stone in its mouth: fu qing, a play on words meaning happiness and good fortune.

Bat with two catfish suspended from a chain together with a ruyi and lotus: wan nian lian fu, for ten thousand years may one have continued happiness.

Bats depicted upside down:fu dao, "Happiness has arrived."

Red bat: hong fu. The word for red, hong, has the same sound as the word for enormous. A red bat brings the wish for enormous or great happiness.

Two bats colored red or on a red background: hong fu qi tian, meaning "red bats attaining the sky" or "Vast happiness extended to the heavens"

Two bats: shuang fu, a wish for double good fortune.

Five bats: wu fu, the wish for Five Blessings of health, long life, riches, love of vitrue, and death by natural causes.

Five bats with a shou character: wu fu peng shou, the with for Five Blessings with an emphasis on longevity.

Five bats with a box: wu fu he he, the wish that one might have a harmonious life with the Five Blessings.

However, in Japan, koumori is no longer a homophone for happiness and the motif is generally associated with nighttime professions such as prostitution and acting.

Auspicious Nature

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

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

Describe how the pattern can be identified. If applicable, explain how the pattern is conventionally simplified.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Koumori mon is the informal crest of the kabuki actor bearing the Ichikawa Danjuro name. [3] Often ukiyo-e of Ichikawa Danjuro will feature him wearing his formal mimasu (三升) mon, three nesting squares, [4] with a bat flying nearby to reference his informal mon.

In Poetry

Bats in poetry are inevitably associated with the nightlife of courtesans and prostitutes.

Bashō's (芭蕉) haiku on bats conjures up images of a wandering priest who has strayed into the pleasure quarters:

蝙蝠も kōmori mo Even bats
出ようき世 ideyo ukiyo no Come out to this floating world
花に鳥 hana ni tori Of blossoms and birds [5]

Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶) also wrote several haiku about bats, including:

かはほりに kawahori ni Like the bats
夜ほちもそろり yahochi mo sorori Nighthawks (streetwalkers) too
そろり哉 sorori kana Make their slow rounds [6]

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions


  1. Wikipedia article on mammals of Japan. Accessed November 13, 2013.
  2. Prints of Japan article on Chinese Representations of Bats. Accessed November 22, 2013.
  3. Motoji Niwa. Snow, Wave, Pine: Traditional Patterns in Japanese Design. Kodansha International. New York. 2001. p.64.
  4. Wikipedia article on Ichikawa Danjuro. Accessed November 22, 2013.
  5. Kigo Database Article on Koumori. Accessed November 22, 2013.
  6. Kigo Database Article on Koumori. Accessed November 22, 2013.

Image Credits

  • Kokoro

Authors & Contributors

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