Japanese Traditional Colors – Purple

PURPLE

We can say purple is the most noble color. (“Kodai-murasaki”is the most typical.)
Since ancient times, purple has been the noble color worldwide.
In Japan, under the first system to rank officials into 12 levels established by Prince Shotoku in A.D.603, purple was the color which was only allowed to be used by the top rank people.

But in the Edo period (17th – 19th Century), “Edo-murasaki” color became fashionable among ordinary people (“Edo” is the ancient name of Tokyo and “murasaki” means purple).
In the era of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa, “Murasaki-sou” (Lithospermum erythrorhizon) were grown and dyeing clothes purple became popular around the west Edo.
This purple color was bluish and called “Edo-murasaki”, as contrasted with “Kyo-murasaki” (“Kyo” means “Kyoto”) which is reddish purple.

Sukeroku, the main character in one of the famous Kabuki performances “Sukeroku yukari no Edo-zakura” wears a browband, and the color of the browband is “Edo-murasaki”.

When two words are united in one word, the pronunciation of the initial letter ‘s’ in the latter word chenges to ‘z’. (e.g. Edo + sakura = Edo-zakura)

*An example of coordination of kimono is here.

Typical purplish colors and their Japanese name

murasaki

shikon
kurobeni / kurokoubai
benikakehanairo
aomurasaki
kongikyou
benikikyou
tekkon
hanairo
usuhanazakura
usuhanairo
fujinando
kakitsubatairo
kikyouiro
kuwanomiiro
futaai
kokimurasaki / fukamurasaki
kokiiro
metsushi/ keshimurasaki
edomurasaki / kakitsubata
sumireiro
budounezumi
nasukon
ayameiro / syoubuiro
koushi
kodaimurasaki
kyomurasaki
hashitairo
ouchiiro
fujiiro
fujimurasaki
shion
usuiro
benifuji
botan
umemurasaki
ebizome
hatobanezumi
fujisusutake
hatobairo
budounezumi / ebinezumi
murasakitobi
nisemurasaki