A is for Aka

Aka (赤), red or crimson

Few things are as emblematic of Japan as the colour red. Initially, my plan for today included a simple coordination of red pieces, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that red is so much more than that. It is the colour of the Rising Sun, the colour of celebration, the colour of torii gates, the colour of a geisha’s iconic makeup and accessories. It’s a colour that has become intricately intertwined with the fabric of Japan.

In the Heian era, benibana or red safflower, became an incredibly popular pigment for clothing, decor, and cosmetics. The Japanese love affair with red has never dwindled. While nowadays they’re mostly synthetic pigments, it’s still found in many traditional crafts, clothing, and makeup. It can represent anything from joy to piety to love to lust, depending on hue and context. It’s so much more than just “a colour”.

Here are a few of my favourite red pieces in my collection, so you can see just how beloved and versatile red is when it comes to Japanese textiles. Do you have any favourite red pieces, or items? If so, I would love to see in the comments!

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