Home / Design + Inspire / Travel + Discover / A World of Paint + Pattern / Japanese Obi: Woven Treasures of Japan

Japanese Obi: Woven Treasures of Japan

Japanese Obi at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC | Paint + PatternImage: Tansu LLC

Japanese obis are wide fabric sashes, usually woven in silk and worn with a Japanese kimono. When worn, an obi is a long, elaborately layered and folded piece of fabric. The Washington, DC Textile Museum display in the image above shows the long obis in their soft springtime colors, well-coordinated with the kimonos.

Traditional styles of wearing the Japanese ObiLeft: Onihide | Right: Takahashi Hiroko 

Traditionally, obis are worn around the waist and chest area to close up the kimono. As shown in the images above, they can be worn either by tying into a square shape or by leaving it hanging to show off the pattern. Japanese obi patterns and colors can be mixed and matched with kimonos, often with high contrast. To that end, girls and younger women usually wear brighter colors and bolder patterns, while the older women tend to wear more muted colors and subdued patterns.

Obis can also be used to decorate your homes. I like to display obis by draping them over a chair or a sofa, or even by running them over a dining table. They can also be hung from the walls; especially a two-story wall could be a great way to display the colors and patterns on the entire length of an obi. I even keep them folded and piled up on display shelves where you can just get a glimpse of their silken colors. They look like a stack of colorful book spines when kept that way and their beautiful patterns seem to tell stories just like books do!

Japanese-Obi-PatternsLeft: Ichiroy | Top Right: Kimono Source | Botton Right: Silk Road Gallery

Even the most intricate patterns are often woven into the fabric as brocade or tapestry. Just by imagining the handiwork that might go into designing these fabulous works of art makes my head spin! Above, is only a glimpse at the creativity you’ll find among various obi designs.

Japanese-Obi-StripesLeft: Ichiroy | Top Right: Ichiroya | Botton Right: Ichiroya

Along the length of an obi, patterns are sometimes even mixed with vertical or horizontal stripes as shown in the image below. This must be especially eye-catching when worn with a kimono.

Japanese-Obi-Scenese-Woven-into-the-FabricImage: Ichiroya

Many a times, intricate scenes from classical literature are woven into the entire length of an obi too. This usually indicates cultural awareness and the wearer’s in-depth knowledge of history.

Obis are often designed with auspicious motifs that represent good things such as longevity, happiness and fortune for its wearer. The motifs used on the obi fabrics show the Japanese beliefs through the literal and figurative power of its images. As explained by the V&A Museum, motifs were chosen to communicate the wearer’s age, status and wealth along with their individual tastes in design. Symbols can communicate various attributes of the garment wearer, or even what they aspire to become (it can be compared with the power suit and red tie concept of the American culture). Designs on an obi and a kimono can also represent the mood of the wearer and even serve as auspicious symbols for special occasions such as weddings. Nature inspired motifs are common and are often worn to reflect the current season. Botanical motifs on the obi fabric include bamboo, chrysanthemum, peony, plum and the Matsu pine tree. Animals like cranes and pheasants, inanimate objects like drums, fans and books also make for common obi patterns. Yes, books! One can also find various geometric patterns like hexagons, arabesque shapes and even medallions that have several layers of patterns within them.

Japanese-Obi-Three-Friends-of-Winter-via-One-Kings-Lane and Robyn BuntinLeft: Robyn Buntin | Right: One Kings Lane

Japanese-Obi-Three-Friends-of-Winter-via-eBayImage: Modern abstract obi from eBay seller Hakonestyle

Japanese-Obi-Three-Friends-of-Winter-from-IchiroyaImage: Embroidered Nagoya obi from Ichiroya

In spite of so many options, it’s amazing, how many designs can be created using limited motifs! Let’s take a look at some patterns themed after the “Three Friends of Winter” namely pine, bamboo and plum. Together, the three represent longevity, flexibility and renewal. This is because pine is evergreen and long-lived, Bamboo will bend in the wind, but never break while Plum is the first tree to blossom in the season of the ‘new‘ – spring. Only imagination can limit the design possibilities with which these “three friends of winter” can be visually incorporated. Take a look at the obi patterns in the images above that show the three friends in very different ways. Tell us in your comments below if you can spot the pine tree, the bamboo and the plum in any of these.

There is a whole world of imagination that has created these works of fabric art over centuries. If you’d like to see more obi designs, visit our Japanese Obi Pinterest board.


  1. I can spot the pine tree, bamboo and plum! Or, at least I think I can – but it’s all in the interpretation correct? FAB post and so fascinating.

  2. 여자농구결과《《 Mir101.COM【카톡:Pro9999】 》》 팁사이트 축구경기입장권 사설토토-http://www.mir101.com/ 사설토토-http://nave88.com/ 사설토토-http://www.mir101.com/ 사설토토-http://nave88.com/

  3. 인천축구경기일정(>→Mir101.COM 카톡:Come99←<) 축구승패 제주축구경기일정 안전놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 안전놀이터-http://nave88.com/ 안전놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 안전놀이터-http://nave88.com/

  4. 온라인배팅(>→Mir101.COM 카톡:Come99←<) 온라인배팅사이트 카지노사이트 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  5. 네이트온경마게임(>→Mir101.COM 카톡:Come99←<) 무료3d온라인게임 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  6. 프로농구라인업(>→Mir101.COM 카톡:Come99←<) 야구토토분석 프로농구토토 메이저놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://nave88.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://nave88.com/

  7. 스포츠배팅사이트(>→Mir101.COM 카톡:Come99←<) 사설배팅사이트 온라인카지노사이트 사설토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 사설토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 사설토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 사설토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  8. 라이브스코어( >→mir101.COM 카톡pro9999←< ) 네임드스코어 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  9. It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before ending I am reading this enormouspiece of writing to increase my knowledge.

  10. 사설스포츠토토추천 ( >→mir101.COM 카톡pro9999←< ) 스포츠토토추천사이트 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  11. 유럽축구사이트% ⦅†† mir101、com 카톡pro9999††⦆ %일본프로축구경기 오늘의축구픽 메이저놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://nave88.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://www.mir101.com/ 메이저놀이터-http://nave88.com/

  12. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve truly read through something likethat before. So nice to find another person with someunique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanksfor starting this up. This website is something that’s neededon the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  13. 야구모바일게임 kbo토토% ⦅†† mir101、com 카톡pro9999††⦆ %MLB해외배당 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  14. 사설토토 % ⦅†† mir101、com 카톡pro9999††⦆ %사다리놀이터 배팅사이트토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/ 토토사이트-http://www.mir101.com/ 토토사이트-http://nave88.com/

  15. If yߋu aare going for m᧐st excelⅼentcontents like I do, just pay a qᥙick visit this web page everydaybecause it gіves feature contents, thanks

  16. Factors behind weak kidney failure pee many timesCause thanks to habits of livingIn a few people, kidney failing is not a major cause ofurinary excitability due to pathology but habits of living.Intended for example: eat more soups, drink plenty of drinkingwater before going to understructure, stress, usediuretics, and so forth.There are plenty of people wondered “drink beer urinate many times because of weak renal? ” The answer then is not as a consequenceto pathology.Causes of poor kidney failure thanks to pathologyIf you have problems like kidney stones, prostatitis, urinarytract infections, weakened kidneys, frequent urination could happen to you.Usually in healthy people will go to the bathroom about 7-8 times a day.You will discover about 6-7 times this board and once at night.To get patients with weak renal disease often urinate more at night and day.Frequent urination is credited to poor kidney disease?The kidneys have two major functions: dialysis and secretion in the body.If the kidneys are weak, it influences both the secretion andthe genital system. If the kidneys are weak, there are many signsthat you may easily identify. In addition to the happening of urinating several times, this symptoms:Urinating the night a couple of times:If you often go to the cottage several times, you should not bevery subjective with this phenomenon. Ought to you have a poor kidney.Or dizziness:When ever you have this sensation, you or the summary feel thatdue to sleeping disorders or stressful jobcauses. Nevertheless , even with changes in diet and lifestyle you are still experiencing this condition, you will have mild kidney symptoms.Or perhaps itchy skin:If the kidneys are weak, the function of eliminating poisonsfrom the body lessens. So maybe you often feel itchy skin, uneasyDermal:When kidney function is weakened, excess liquidin the body are not able to be removed. Therefore,you will be very likely to have manifestations such as swelling of thelegs, hands, face,…Make sure you visit the knowledge about renal disease at:http://bothanhoan.com/

  17. Because the admin of this web site is working, no question very rapidly it will bewell-known, due to its feature contents.

Scroll To Top