Could you identify the the tall grass depicted in the closeup of the furoshiki in my last post? I mentioned it earlier in that article, and it’s none other than Japanese pampas grass. It’s a mainstay in fall season motifs, often paired with bush clover.
It’s a tall, delicate grass with a lovely ‘tail’ at the top that gives it one of its names in Japanese, obana, which literally means ‘ tail flower.’ And it does look like a horse’s tail, with its chestnut color and gentle swaying as it catches an autumn breeze.
It’s also known as susuki, a name you can remember by associating it with the common surname ‘Suzuki’ and changing the pronunciation slightly so that the first two syllables sound alike.
Here are closeups of two furoshiki cloths with fall season motifs that include both bush clover and susuki.
Its height and the way its delicate tassels shimmer in the light make Japanese pampas grass a fixture in classical verse that has so movingly and vividly captured the essence of autumn over the centuries. This ethereal quality is used to great effect on fabrics like these, which depict night scenes with a luminous harvest moon as the centerpiece.
And the moon plays a central role in the furoshiki below, which also highlights our third grass. Kikyo are bellflowers, and it seems that hair ornament designers are as taken by them as textile artists and poets. Their beautiful purple is the inspiration for the overall color scheme of this charming scene with rabbits jumping in the moonlight:
Look closely and you’ll notice bush clover and Japanese pampas grass, and a pair of rabbits jumping in the moon’s glow. By the time a typically hot and humid Japanese summer starts to wind down I inevitably start to look forward to autumn’s cool breezes and all of its other charms, including these traditional symbols of the season.
As I write these words on a sultry late August Kyoto evening, I’m reminded that another glorious autumn isn’t far away!
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Originally posted 2016-08-21 14:52:53.