We can say that purple is the most noble color. (“Kodai-murasaki” is the most typical.)
Since ancient times, purple has been considered a noble color worldwide.
In Japan, during the first system of ranking officials into 12 levels established by Prince Shotoku in A.D. 603, purple was a color exclusively reserved for the highest-ranking individuals.
However, in the Edo period (17th-19th century), the color “Edo-murasaki” became fashionable among ordinary people. (“Edo” is the ancient name of Tokyo, and “murasaki” means purple).
During the reign of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa, the “Murasaki-sou” (Lithospermum erythrorhizon) plant was cultivated, and dyeing clothes in a purple hue became popular in the western part of Edo.
This particular shade of purple had a bluish tint and came to be known as “Edo-murasaki,” contrasting with “Kyo-murasaki” (“Kyo” means “Kyoto”), which has a reddish-purple tone.
In one of the famous Kabuki performances called “Sukeroku yukari no Edo-zakura,” the main character Sukeroku wears a browband, and the color of the browband is “Edo-murasaki.”
Purple is sometimes referred to as ‘yukari’ as well. However, it is not commonly used in everyday language.
*An example of coordination of kimono is here.
Typical purplish colors and their Japanese name
|kurobeni / kurokoubai|
|kokimurasaki / fukamurasaki|
|edomurasaki / kakitsubata|
|ayameiro / syoubuiro|
|budounezumi / ebinezumi|
Hi! I’m an enthusiastic Kimono consultant, the manager of Project Japan. Beyond work, I love kimonos, relaxing in onsens, exploring music, and traveling. When it comes to food, I have a soft spot for traditional Japanese cuisine and enjoy Japanese sake, wine, whiskey, and coffee.
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