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Motif Information
Motif yabane 01.jpg
Rōmaji Yabane


English Arrow
Kanji 矢羽, 矢羽根

矢飛白, 矢絣

Kana やばね


Season All-Season
Seasonal Exceptions None
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Geometric

Yabane represents the fletching on an arrow, although sometimes the shaft is also depicted.

Yabane or yagasuri patterns have been popular in Japan since the Heian era. Originally yabane was popular as a motif on men's clothing due to its close association with kyudo, Japanese archery, but has always been popular with women as well. During the Edo era small scale kasuri yabane was popular as servants' livery. [1] By the Meiji era it had become highly associated with the "Meiji schoolgirl" look- a yabane komon worn under hakama with a modern hairstyle held back with a ribbon.

Yabane today are almost exclusively found on women's items. The only places you may still see them on men's items are small scale on the hanao of geta or as a large scale motif on a juban, often containing other motifs within the outline.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Hamaya with Fukurokuju and shika (1644) by Umetada Motoshige in the collection of the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

Yabane, like most geometric motifs, is all season. The main determinant of when a yabane kimono can be worn is whether it is lined.

Auspicious Nature

Yabane has an auspicious association with weddings, since like an arrow shot from a bow a bride does not return to her parents' house. In Buddhist tradition a bow and arrow represent weapons against evil. Yabane is also loosely associated with hamaya, the "demon quelling" arrows sold as good luck charms at Shinto shrines at New Years and the broken off fletching of an arrow is widely regarded as a charm for repelling bad luck.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Umegae (梅枝, Plum Branch, 1843) from the series Heroic Comparisons for the Chapters of Genji by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

When yabane is combined with ume it recalls the episode in Genpei Seisui ki when Kajiwara Genta Kagesue stops to break off a branch of early blooming ume to carry in his quiver into the battle of Ichi-no-Tani (一の谷). [2] This incident is commemorated in the Noh play, Ebira no ume (Plum Quiver) and the kabuki play, Genta.[3]

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions


  1. Allen, Jeanne. Designer's Guide to Japanese Patterns. Kawade Shobo Shinsha Publishing. 1984. p.92.
  2. Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. 1997. p.70.
  3. JAANUS article on Ebira-no-ume. Accessed December 2, 2016.

Image Credits

  • BikaBika
  • Bebe Taian

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: tzippurah (IG Username)