The success of Japanese designs through time
Before attacking the heart of the matter with precise examples on the different styles, creating products with the Nippon look and everything that goes with it, we will try to make you dream through the history of the country of the rising sun, and how the patterns could evolve in time.
To make it simple, before the 8th century, Japanese art was still not very specific, it is with the arrival of Buddhism that it started to become more precise and inspire many artists through time. And this time, we can divide it into several parts, because each part has its unique elements.
Pattern of the Heian period
At that time, the use of Kimono and traditional clothes was already present, so naturally, we could already find many colorful and detailed Japanese patterns. That said, the colors remained relatively bland and dominated by shades of red and green. Sometimes we could find Japanese symbols that remind us of a Sakura flower for example. The beginning of a great lineage for the patterns of our favorite country.
Pattern of the Muromachi period
We are going to take a big leap in time, so that we really have time to see the extremes through history. During this period, from the 14th to the 16th century, art was very dark, dominated by gray, brown and black. Logically, the Japanese designs suffered from this and they were much more oriented on an appearance as close as possible to reality, but with colors that were not very striking. This period could define the basis of the Edo period, which was a huge success for the Japanese culture.
Pattern of the Edo period
It is at this moment of history that we can see the 1st Japanese patterns that have marked the style we know today. Its success is very much linked to the politics and the expansion of the country which was very glorious for the country: logically, the art follows.
We find the Kimonos, Yukata that we know today, with bright colors and many elements that represent Japan: it is a country proud of its culture, and everyone should know it! This is the beginning of the Sakura flower patterns, the shrines, the classic Shiba, and the legendary Mount Fuji: here it is, Japan has found what will stay in time, because it likes it.
It is also during this period that we find the artist Hokusai, probably the most famous painter of Japan: only on his paintings, we can see the numerous representations mentioned above, which we will find more and more in sewn or drawn patterns on everyday objects.
Patterns of our time
Between Edo and today, many things have changed. That said, there are still many elements present in our era: Sakura flowers, Japanese landscapes,... surrounded by bright colors in a minimalist style but far from reality. A kind of middle ground between the Muromachi and Edo periods.
The arrival of the urban culture has nevertheless influenced the Japanese patterns that we will find among young people, with Japanese characters (Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana), darker colors dominated by black, white and gray, as well as a direct influence of mangas and anime.
What are the different Japanese patterns and styles today?
Today, the classic Japanese pattern will have many variations depending on what medium it will be on. A Kimono will have traditional patterns in the majority of cases, urban fashion clothing will be more sophisticated in form, and for products based on the Anime and Manga world, the variety is almost infinite.
Kimono and Yukata
On traditional Japanese clothing, the patterns are varied but simple: abstract shapes often revolve around the floral pattern, strongly inspired by Japanese cherry trees. The Sakura, with pale pink petals will be visible everywhere in Japan every spring, it is often at this period that we will see the most Kinomo and Yukata with flowers pattern during Matsuri and other traditional festivals.
It is not uncommon to find many other animal patterns such as birds, Japanese cranes, foxes, Shiba,... or various shapes based on rounded or triangular forms. There is an excellent video that shows how Japanese patterns are created, which comes from NHK, the first news media in Japan.
Even in urban fashion, we still find the traditional side of Japan in the patterns: this is one of the many reasons for its success! The visual of the land of the rising sun has always been the center of attention with visually beautiful calligraphy and minimalist looking patterns that in 2021 is a standard for many designers: the simpler the better.
We find many fashion designers using the Japanese pattern as a base to make clothes around it, like with Yohji Yamamoto, Bape, and like boys. Many will have a simple detail that will stand out above the rest, and the success will be total!
Japanese Furniture and Decoration
Of course, the classic Japanese pattern is not limited to clothing. It can also be found a lot on furniture, paintings, and cutlery for example: don't forget that it comes from there above all! The reference brand for the minimalist style in Japan is Muji: just have a look at their Japanese store to understand that the patterns can be very varied while keeping an identity specific to its country of origin, Japan.
Then, many stores on the spot will propose a lot of details with intriguing patterns that will gather Sakura, animals, shapes of all kinds,... on stationery products, plates, chopsticks, or even glasses.
How to create DIY Japanese patterns?
To create DIY Japanese patterns, you'll need inspiration and a good knowledge of the subject at first. But that's good, we explained it all to you just above! You can refer to the NHK video on Asian designs, they highlight each feature in the order they are drawn.
You can also create 100% original patterns, but this requires a lot of curiosity and analysis on the order of the strokes and the shape of the strokes: for example, a pattern based on calligraphy, will have to have each stroke painted or drawn in the right direction (top to bottom, left to right) to achieve a good result. As for the shapes and objects, it will be necessary to rely on rounded shapes that overlap to achieve a result with a Japanese look.
Where to buy products with Japanese colors?
After all of this, it's safe to say that the Japanese pattern is a hit, and it's easy to see why everyone is clamoring for it. Fortunately for you, Eternal Japan is here to help you find the Japanese patterned clothing and decorations that will enhance your style, or your home.
To get products with Japanese colors, you can go to specialized stores, but apart from some Manga and Anime stores (where the choice is very limited), there are very few that have the necessary knowledge about the land of the rising sun to guide you properly on the choice of your products.
To find real specialists, it is often online: indeed, a specialist of Japan is in Japan! That's why the best way is to go through Eternal Japan, with a part of the team in France and another one in Tokyo.