Tenugui Towel Trivia The Meaning and Origin of the Patterns – KAMAWANU - Japanese Tenugui Towel


Tenugui Towel Trivia The Meaning and Origin of the Patterns

Did you know that each of the classical and auspicious patterns used in tenugui towel designs has its own meaning?

This time, we would like to introduce the patterns that mean "good luck" from Kamawanu's designs.

 Healthy Longevity


Because of their shape, gourds are believed to absorb and contain evil spirits and have been used as talismans and charms to ward off evil.
The six gourds are connected to the Japanese word for "six gourds" (read "mu-byou" in Japanese), which means "free from disease" (read "mu-byou" in Japanese), and it considered good luck charm to pray for good health and longevity.

Japanese lion dance

Shishimai (japanese lion dance) performed at New Year's and festivals are performed to drive away evil spirits and to pray for good health and a bountiful harvest.

The lion dance bites the head, which means to eat the evil spirits attached to people and drive them away.


Realization of a great ambitio

Hishimeki-Daruma / Carp climbing a waterfall / Eggplant


Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese dolls, beloved as symbols of good luck and perseverance. Even if it falls on its side, it will soon get back up, which is called "seven falls and eight rises=A man's walking is a succession of falls."

When bought in stores, Daruma dolls do not have both eyes painted. The left eye put in after making a wish, and the right eye put in when the wish is fulfilled.

Carp climbing a waterfall

The carp is a symbol of success in business, and its name derived from a Chinese legend. It is said that a carp that climbed up a waterfall called the Dragon's Gate in the Yellow River became a dragon.

In Japan, carp have been depicted as a prayer for boys' success in business since the early Edo period (1603-1868), and later, "koinobori" (carp streamers) were decorated with streamers.


The word "Ichifuji・Nitaka・San-nasubi" (Fisrt Fuji, Second hawks,Third eggplants) is refers to the order of auspiciousness in the first dream.

Fuji is associated with "immortality" and has the meaning of longevity, hawk with success in life, and eggplant with accomplishing things.


Warding off evil

Wagasa / Sake Tasting / Spices

Umbrella with Bull's-eye

It is called jenome (snake's eye) because the two circles, one large and one small, look like a snake's eye and is believed to ward off evil. The serpent's-eye pattern is also painted on the bottom of the serpent's umbrella and on the bottom of the sake cup used for sake tasting.


Spices are made from a variety of berries and seeds. The red color of chili peppers is said to ward off evil and protect the house.


Prosperous business

Ikebukuro / Wishful Thinking: Beckoning cat


Ikebukuro is the name of a central and bustling town in Tokyo. There is a theory that the name of Ikebukuro comes from the fact that owls used to inhabit the area.

Owls are nocturnal and can see well at night, so they are said to have a "bright outlook." They are also said to have "good luck, good fortune, and never have trouble making money" because of their ability to turn their heads , and they have been considered a guardian deity for prosperous business.

It also has an auspicious meaning, such as fortune has coming" or no hardship.

Lucky Cat

Since the gesture of a cat grooming its fur looks like beckoning, ornaments were made as a good-luck charm to bring good fortune.It is said that a cat with its right hand raised invites luck with money and a cat with its left hand raised invites people (guests). It is also believed that the higher the hand is raised, the more it  happiness from afar. 



Seigaiha (blue ocean waves) / Wisteria  / Arabesque

Seigaiha (blue ocean waves)

Seigaiha (blue ocean waves) is an auspicious pattern that depicts gentle waves continuing forever, and is used in Gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) and Noh plays. The pattern is also used in Gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) and Noh plays, etc. The pattern is filled with wishes for "everlasting happiness," and its shape, which resembles a fan spreading out to the end, is considered a pattern of good luck.

Wisteria circle

Wisteria is a symbol of longevity and prosperity of offspring because of its long and robust life span and the way it grows on the vine.The circle means "harmonious" and the pattern of interlocking circles is a wish for continued good fortune.


"Arabesque" has a long history among patterns, dating back to ancient Greece, where it is said to have originated as a grass pattern engraved on temple pillars.

A vine pattern spreading in all directions has the meaning of "prosperity" in Japan.  It was used as a wedding gift and a gift during the Edo period (1603-1868).


Red and white manjyu chrysanthemum / Three Friends of Winter / Old pine trees


It is said that chrysanthemums have medicinal properties for longevity. Chou-you-no-Sekku on September 9 is also called "Chrysanthemum Festival" and people pray for good health and longevity by decorating flowers and drinking alcohol with chrysanthemum petals floating on it.

Three Friends of Winter

Pine, bamboo, and plum is considered a plant to be celebrated for its life force that produces beautiful leaves and flowers even in the coldest of winters.

In Japan, cranes and turtles are known as symbols of longevity because there is a legend that the crane lives for 1,000 years and the tortoise lives for 10,000 years. These two symbols are often used in sets for celebratory occasions. 



Now, there are many other auspicious meanings for tenugui patterns in addition to the patterns introduced here.

Let's choose the perfect tenugui for the person to whom you would like to give a gift.