Japanese Symbolism

These symbols offer these meanings when held in the hands of Japanese Kannon for Buddhist deities are associated with specific symbolic and ritual objects.  http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/objects-symbols-weapons-senju.html

The Blue Lotus is a great symbol for the exact way Buddhist teachings translate into the simplicity of the Japanese interior design, which reflects how it bows away from ritualistic accumulation.

十方浄土に往生する. Rebirth in the Pure Land. The blue lotus symbolizes wisdom and the victory of the spirit over the senses. Monju Bosatsu (the voice of Buddhist law and the personification of wisdom) is closely associated with the blue lotus (atop which is often a sutra), as is Hannya Bosatsu. The lotus is a symbol of purity and enlightenment, and in all Buddhist traditions, the deities are typically shown sitting or standing atop a lotus or holding a lotus. Although a beautiful flower, the lotus grows out of the mud at the bottom of a pond. Buddhist deities are enlightened beings who grew out of the mud of the material world. Like the lotus, they are beautiful and pure even though they grew up in the “muddy” material world. The open blossom represents the possibility of universal salvation for all sentient beings. The lotus is one of the most widely known symbols of Buddhism. It is also one of the signs on the foot of a Buddha (see Footprints of Buddha for details) and the principal attribute of Kannon (Lord of Compassion). Nyoirin Kannon (an esoteric form of Kannon) is often depicted touching a lotus throne, which represents a vow to save those in the Asura realm, and holding a lotus bud, which represents a vow to save those in the human realm.

An axe 官難を除き平和をもたらす.
Wards off calamity; helps to achieve harmony. It represents the cutting away of ignorance, and is often held by Japan’s wrathful Myō-ō deities to symbolize the chopping away of all obstacles that block the path to enlightenment.

The reason I incorporated mirrors as windows in my design was the symbolism that they come with in not only our culture but also in Chinese as well as Japanese.

Mirror- 智恵の眼. Draws forth intelligence to liberate the mind. It also reflects the lesson that life is illusion, for the mirror does not represent reality — it merely provides a reflection of reality. The mirror is thus a metaphor for the unenlightened mind deluded by mere appearances. Also see the famous Buddhist parable from China known in Japan as Enkō Sokugetsu 猿猴捉月. Translated as “Catching the Moon’s Reflection,” it tells a similar story of the unenlightened mind deluded by appearances.

However, not all the symbolism lies in the hands of these deities.

Bonsai trees hold a strong meaning in Japanese culture, comparable to that of the Chinese penjing.

 The Buddhist monks that brought bonsai growing to Japan viewed these trees as a symbol for harmony between nature, man and soul. With that, the form of the trees also changed. Gone were the bizarre and grotesque shapes of twisting serpents and fierce dragons. From then on the bonsai were all about harmony, peace and balance. They started to represent all that was good.

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Koi fish are also of a large significance to the Japanese http://www.koi-pond-guide.com/koi-fish-meaning.html

Koi Fish meaning in Japan is good fortune or luck they also are associated with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose, the Koi fish symbolize good luck, abundance and perseverance. Symbolic in Buddhism is to represent courage. Today the fish are considered to be symbolic of advancement materially and spiritually.

According to Japanese legend, if a koi fish succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would be transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.

Another legend states that the koi climb the waterfall bravely, and if they are caught, they face their death on the cutting board bravely like a samuri. In Japan, the word koi refers primarily to the wild variety. As a result, many of the country’s symbolic meanings for the fish refer to the wild variety instead of the fish species as a whole. One of the primary reasons the fish is symbolic in Japanese culture is because it is known for swimming upstream no matter what the conditions are. These fish are even said to swim up waterfalls. This is viewed as an absolute show of power because they will continue to swim upstream as if on a mission. They cannot be distracted or deterred by anything. Koi’s swimming downstream are considered bad luck.

The Japanese flag is a reflection of the metaphor for a rising sun, a postmark of the cultures tradition and mythology.

The Japanese flag depicts a red disc, representing the rising sun, against a white background. This, of course, is a symbol of Japan’s strong connection throughout the ages to the sun – even Japan’s name for itself, “Nihon”, translates to “origin of the sun”. This connection is obviously partially due to the lack of any land anywhere near to the east of Japan, but there are also strong mythological ties, and the emperor of Japan was thought to be a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

Kimono’ (‘ki’ = ‘wear’, ‘mono’ = ‘thing’) is the word used to describe what has become known as the traditional dress of Japan. However, there are many different types of kimono. The type of kimono you wear identifies a person’s age, sex, class, the season, the occasion, as well as personal taste or the lack thereof.

This next part is from a book I read called Symbols of Japan by Merrily Baird.

Symbols are a large part of Japanese culture. Designs on kimono, including family crests, are often crucial to understanding the occasion where the garment would have been worn, by whom and at what time of the year.

Butterflies- The Japanese view butterflies as souls of the living and the dead. They are considered symbols of joy and longevity. 

Cranes in Japanese textiles generally represent longevity and good fortune. They are most closely associated with Japanese New Year and wedding ceremonies – for example the crane is often woven into a wedding kimono or obi.

Out of the many shapes, animals and works of art created by origami (Japanese paper folding), the crane is produced most often. It is customary within Japanese culture to fold one thousand paper cranes when making a special wish. Giant colorful necklaces of cranes are a common sight outside Japanese shrines and temples.

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