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Revision as of 11:19, 26 March 2017 by Tzippurah (talk | contribs) (Authors & Contributors)

This page is about the motif, for the color please see Yamabuki-iro.

Motif Information
Motif yamabuki 01.jpg
Rōmaji Yamabuki
English Yellow mountain rose
Kanji 山吹
Kana やまぶき
Season Spring
Seasonal Exceptions None
Auspicious No
Motif Type Flower

Yamabuki (山吹, lit. mountain breath) refers to the yellow mountain rose (Kerria japonica). As the common name implies, yamabuki grows in the wild on mountainsides in dense thickets. It blooms in spring, producing numerous yellow five petaled flowers along the length of its branches.[1]

In the early nineteenth century, Scottish botanist William Kerr developed a domesticated cultivar, Pleniflora, with double-flowers.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Yamabuki blooms in late spring.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

Yamabuki (bottom left) in panel of triptych of Ide no Tamagawa (Yamashiro no kuni ide no Tamagawa,1850) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Yamabuki when depicted with a river is referring to Ide no Tamagawa (井出の玉川, Jewel River of Ide) near Kyoto, a famous spot for yamabuki flower viewing.[2]

Yamabuki also have a melancholy connotation that is evoked by the folk belief that the flowers do not produce fruit.[3]This belief lead to the flower being used as a Buddhist symbol for mono-no-aware, the impermanence of things.

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

Yamabuki is identified by its bright yellow flowers. They may appear as the five petaled wild version or more rarely, as the domesticated double-flower (the petals form a pompom). The branches are thin are often depicted as trailing or draping.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

The yamabuki found growing along the Ide no Tamagawa was supposedly planted in the Nara era by Tachibana no Moroe..[4] Fujiwara no Shunzei, a late Heian era poet, wrote several poems that cemented the association of yamabuki with Ide no Tamagawa.

Yamabuki-iro is the color used to refer to gold, often in a pejorative sense, as in a bribe during the Edo period.

In Poetry

Poem and drawing by Matsuo Basho, 1688.

The poem inscribed by Matsuo Basho at right is reproduced and translated below:

ほろほろと horohoroto Quietly, quietly
山吹ちる yamabuki chiru yellow mountain roses fall
かたきのおと taki no oto sound of the rapids[5]

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

  • Link to any relevant threads on IG


  1. Wikipedia article on Kerria japonica. Accessed January 25, 2017.
  2. Baird, Merrily. Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design. Rizzoli. 2001. p.99.
  3. World Kigo Database Article on Yamabuki. Accessed January 25, 2017.
  4. Shirane, Haruo. Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts. Columbia Press. 2011. p. 61.
  5. Wikimedia page on poem.Accessed January 25, 2017. Translation by Makoto Ueda.

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))