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Do you know “MIZUHIKI” which is one of the traditional Japanese craft arts? In Japan, there is a custom of giving money at celebrations and mourning occasions, and “ MIZUHIKI” is often used as a decoration for envelopes (syuugi-bukuro) to put the money in. Very delicate MIZUHIKI art used motifs of various shapes such as flowers and animals is traditional craft that allows you to add your special wishes in the gift for your loved ones. This time, I will introduce MIZUHIKI work in depth.


1. What is MIZUHIKI art?

2. The meaning of knots/Shapes.

3. The meaning of colour / number.


1. What is MIZUHIKI art ?

MIZUHIKI-zaiku (MIZUHIKI art) is originated in the Asuka period (around 1400 years ago) that the gift from Ming dynasties (China) was decolated with red and white hemp cords. The reason why it's called "MIZUHIKI" is that the code/string made by pulling (HIKI) the hemp skin into water (MIZU) to peel it off. In addition, it is believed that after the water (MIZU) recedes (HIKI), it means "purified/pure", therefore, MIZUHIKI has the meaning of talisman against evil and bring a good health into your life. In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the hemp cord was changed to a strong washi cord, however at that time it was still expensive and only the upper class such as aristocrats could use it. Afterwards, it gradually became popular among the citizens, and around the Edo period (1600〜1868), it well-used as a gift decoration for the ceremonial/mourning occasions such as wedding or funerals.

There are various ways of tying MIZUHIKI codes. Each knot has its own meaning and wishes, and we use different knots depending on the purpose.

2. The meaning of knots / shapes.









A knot that can be easily untied and re-tied over and over = For the celebrations that make you happy no matter how many times you repeat it.


Baby shower,

Longevity celebration,

Housewarming celebration,

School entrance celebration (new beginnings).









Once you tie it, you can't untie it easily = Wish that will happen only once. Or wish for a strong and tightly-knit relationship.


Wedding celebration,

Celebration for recovery from illness,

Funeral/Memorial Service.



The way of tying in the shape of plum blossoms (UME) = Plum blossoms are considered as a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits, and are used when you wish for good health and long-lasting happiness of the gift receiver. In addition, the complex knot like UME-MUSUBI symbolizes a strong bond, because it’s not untied easily.


Wedding celebration,

Baby shower.







The way to tie a loop by crossing the codes = It has the meaning of living together, sharing a life together, and is used when you wish for a long-lasting good relationship.


Wedding celebration


3. The meaning of colour / number

About colour

For celebratory occasions:A pair of

Red and white,

Gold and silver,

Red and gold.


For mourning occasions: A pair of

Black and white,

Yellow and white,

Blue and white.


How many codes to use?

There are also rules about how many to use.


1. Odd numbers (3.5.7). Using 5 codes is common.

The number is not divisible, so it is for the occasions that good to repeat many times.

Baby shower, school entrance gifts, etc.

However, 10 codes are the mainstream for wedding celebration. Because 5 codes represent 5 fingers on one hand, so 10 codes indicate 2 hands. It is a symbol of the wish that both families take hand and hand to support each other.


2.Even number (2.4). Generally, 4 codes are used.

It's a divisible number, so it's for an event that you wish to happen only once.


Memorial service.


Nowadays, MIZUHIKI cords are made in many colors and materials, and the designs are not limited only a set of pine, bamboo and plum, or a set of crane and turtle (these are the symbols of luck in Japan), but also butterflies, goldfish, and dragons, etc... Mizuhiki is also used for various items such as earrings, hair accessories, poccolo portaoggetti and light stand.

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