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Motif Information
Motif tachibana.jpg
Copyright detsugu
Rōmaji Tachibana
English Mandarin orange
Kana たちばな
Season Summer
Seasonal Exceptions Winter
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Fruit Motif

Tachibana (English: Mandarin orange, botanical: Citrus tachibana) is an inedible citrus of approximately 6 to 13 ft in height, grows in dense green branches with young thorns. The leaves are 3 to 6 cm in length, oval-shaped, and glossy dark green. The fruit is smooth-skinned, about 3 cm in diameter, but with a high acidity that makes it is unfit to be eaten raw, though marmalade can be made.

In Japan, the leaves and fruit is used in floral motifs and adopted as family crests.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Thought to be brought from the legendary eternal land, tachibana is emphasized in poetry for its evergreen leaves, fragrant blossoms, and jewel-like fruit lasting into winter. Though its flowers bloom "out of season", the leaves and fruit motif of tachibana is commonly seen on lined garments meant for the auspicious occasions like the New Year or Coming of Age.

For a Heian era perspective, Minamoto Masasuke, an aide to Senior Grand Empress Fujiwara no Tashi (1140–1202), wrote in "Colors for a Court Lady's Dress" that the tachibana kasane - a golden yellow citrus fruit occurring simultaneously with a white flower - is assigned to the summer cultural season. [1] Likewise, Tachibanazuki (橘月/たちばなづき) is an antique name for the fifth lunar month, or June in the modern calendar.

In order to determine the correct season, type of weight and weave of fabric must be considered along with whether it is lined and any additional motifs.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

Stuff about what it symbolises, what it'sassociated with, etc.

Auspicious Nature

The felicitous association of the tree also comes to us from the Shishinden, or the imperial hall of state. Two trees were planted in the Southern Court on either side of the central stairs leading to the Main Hall. To the west was the citrus tree, tachibana, and to the east was a cherry, sakura. The evergreen citrus tree symbolized things eternal, while the deciduous cherry evoked the image of things impermanent. Symbolizing the two divisions of the imperial guards, this image is familiar to those who observe Hina Matsuri (Doll's Festival) with replicas of the imperial court. The tachibana tree is placed next to the emperor in the tiered display of Girls' Day Dolls, while a cherry tree sits at the side of the empress. [2]

Common Motif Pairings

Motif Examples

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions


  1. Dalby, Kimono 1993.
  2. Dalby, Liza. East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir Through the Seasons. p. 237

Image Credits

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: C. Law (claw789 (IG Username))

Contributors: tzippurah (IG Username)