. . . COLORS and Kigo - grey

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The four colors of four haiku seasons
The five colors of Buddhism

. Colors and Haiku .

According to Henry Dreyfus, Japanese, in contrast with Westerners, grasp colors on an intuitively horizontal plane, and pay little heed to the influences of light. Colors whether intense of soft, are identified not so much on the basis of reflected light or shadow,
but in terms of the meaning or feeling associated with them.
The adjectives used to describe colors, like iki (sophisticated or chic), shibui (subdued or restrained), or hannari (gay or mirthful), tend to be those that stress feelings rather than the values of colors in relation to each other.

According to Henry Dreyfus, Black, sumi, is the color of mystery and solemnity; the color of the night. Black expresses the depths of the unknown, and encourages the imagination of a different world from that of daylight realities. Used by itself, black can represent bad luck or misfortune.

According to Henry Dreyfus, indigo blue, ai, mirrors the color of the vast ocean surrounding the Japanese islands. This shade of blue is very commonly seen in Japanese art and clothing.

According to Henry Dreyfus, gold, kin, can evoke the sensation of looking upon waving fields of ripened rice stalks. Gold is also associated with royalty. It represents the color of the heavens, and is used to decorate statues of the Buddha and religious temples.

According to Henry Dreyfus, green, midori is regarded as the color of eternal life, as seen in evergreens which never change their color from season to season. In the word midori, both trees and vegetation are implied. One characteristic of Japanese culture can be found in the fusion of life and nature.

According to Henry Dreyfus, it is popularly felt that red, the color of blood and fire, represents life and vitality. Red also signifies the color of the sun: a symbol of energy, radiating its vitalizing life-force into human beings. Red is also looked upon as a sensual color, and can be associated with man's most profound urges and impulses. Ironically, red cats symbolize bad luck.

According to Henry Dreyfus, the word for red and white, Kohaku, is pronounced as one word in Japanese. Ko means red, while haku translates as white. Their use together immediately signifies happiness and celebration to the Japanese viewer. The combination of red and white in the decorative ornaments used on wedding or engagement presents -noshi or kaishi- has a compelling quality that suggests man's urge to create a bond between his own life and that of the gods. Red and white are also the colors of the uniforms that shrine maidens wear (denoting these colors divine nature.)
source : www.three-musketeers.net


Grey, Gray (hai-iro, hyaku nezu )

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity

for other colors, see below.


gray, grey, grau, nezumi-iro 鼠色
ash gray, hai-iro, kaishoku 灰色(かいしょく・はいいろ)

In the Edo period, when showing off was not allowed, the colors were given subdued names too, all hundred shades of grey, Edo Hyaku nezu 江戸百鼠.
These shades were very fashionable for kimono. They had very delicate shades of each color.

There were also 48 different shades of green and the 100 gray shades, in a famous saying: shijuuhatcha hyakunezumi 四十八茶、百鼠.
yonjuuhatcha hyakunezu
Look at them here.


Rikyu Rat Grey, Rikyu nezu
利休鼠(りきゅうねず) Rikyuu


. Sen Rikyuu, Sen Rikyū 千利休 Sen Rikyu, Sen no Rikyu  .


Sen Rikyu, Sen Rikyū 千利休 
1522 - April 21, 1591 (some dates give March 28.)
陰暦二月二十八日 28th day of the 2nd lunar month

the historical figure with the most profound influence on chanoyu, the Japanese "Way of Tea", particularly the tradition of wabi-cha. Rikyū is known by many names; for convenience this article will refer to him as Rikyū throughout.

There are three iemoto (sōke), or "head houses" of the Japanese Way of Tea, that are directly descended from Rikyū: the Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakōjisenke, all three of which are dedicated to passing forward the teachings of their mutual family founder, Rikyū.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

If you have one pot
And can make your tea in it
That will do quite well.
How much does he lack himself
Who must have a lot of things?

Sen Rikyu


The Nature of Rikyu Grey
..... If one is going to name a certain sensation, formulate an outline of its features, trace its history or search for the origin of that sensation, it must inspire a profound sympathy yet awake a certain critical awareness. For me, such a sensation is "Rikyu grey." A long philosophical essay :

Worldwide use

Grau, mausgrau

Things found on the way

The Japan Architect, June 1979

If one is going to name a certain sensation, formulate an outline of its features, trace its history or search for the origin of that sensation, it must inspire a profound sympathy yet awake a certain critical awareness. For me, such a sensation is "Rikyu grey." The sensation of Rikyu grey represents an aesthetic of an ambivalent or multiple meaning.

Grey was generally considered a vile color conjuring up images of rats or ashes and had never been popular. But when it became known as Rikyu grey, it was better appreciated; in the latter part of the Edo period (1600-1868) it gained tremendous popularity, along with brown and indigo (navy) blue, at the embodiment of the aesthetic ideal of iki. Iki in this period is a complex concept but may be simply described as "richness in sobriety."

As the cult of tea spread beyond the upper classes to be practiced in the homes of ordinary people, so did the taste for this grey color. People took pleasure in naming all manner of colors containing the element of charcoal grey such as Fukagawa grey, silver grey, indigo grey, reddish grey, lavender grey, grape grey, brown grey, dove grey and lentil grey. When various colors are mixed until no trace of any specific color remains, it is called simply "grey." All these colors have chromas of very low intensity and their subtle differences of tone had great appeal in that period. This taste in colors prevailed throughout Edo culture from the Genroku period beginning in 1688 and continuing throughout the eighteenth century.

Read about this color and Japanese Architecture


Rikyu gray, Rikyu nezu
Gray which the green of powdered green tea.


It continues drizzling. at the rocky shore of Jogashima.
---The rain of Rikyu gray .
Is the rain pearls, or fog of dawn, or my subdued sobbing.
A ship sails around the tip of a Toriya
--- Your ship which hoisted its wet sail.
I row a ship .
I pull an oar to a song.
The song is the captain's spirit.
It continues drizzling.
The sun hides in thin clouds.
The ship sails. The sail dims.



Japanese Color Names

... ... ... ... List with color samples
cherry-grey, sakura nezumi 桜鼠(さくらねずみ)
plum-grey, ume nezumi 梅鼠(うめねずみ)
willow green grey, yanagi nezumi 柳鼠(やなぎねずみ)
harbour grey, minato nezumi 湊鼠(みなとねずみ)

...........fukagawa nezumi 深川鼠 (ふかがわねずみ)
indigo grey, ai nezumi 藍鼠(あいねずみ)
wisteria grey, fuji nezumi 藤鼠(ふじねずみ)
dove feather grey, hatoba nezumi 鳩羽鼠(はとばねずみ)
grape grey, budoo nezumi 葡萄鼠(ぶどうねず ・えびねずみ)
red faded grey, beni keshi nezumi 紅消鼠(べにけしねずみ)
white grey, shiro nezumi 白鼠(しろねずみ)

bea8a7 .. silver grey, gin nezumi 銀鼠(ぎんねずみ)
7b6d5b .. plain grey, sunezumi 素鼠(すねずみ)
513d39 .. faded grey, dobunezumi 丼鼠・溝鼠(どぶねずみ)

and many many more colors:

e1642f .. 江戸茶(えどちゃ)looks more of a red shade
Edo Green, Edo Tea Color, edocha 江戸茶(えどちゃ)



a shade of grey
on my cherry blossoms -


. Gabi Greve, Introducing Shades of Gray .


03 shades of gray

sudden rain -
my world reduced to
shades of gray

The gray of this background is called Genji Nezumi Mouse Gray

More of my Info and Haiku about GRAY !


kitsunebi ya Rikyu ne no ame ga furu

fox fire -
the rain falls so gray,
Rikyu gray

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Gendai Haiku Kyokai


Hakone yama Rikyu nezu ni shigureori

Hakone Mountains -
a cold rain falls,
Rikyu Gray Rain

(tr. Gabi Greve)

Shimizu Miyoko 清水 美夜湖

Gendai Haiku Kyokai


morning sky--
clearing away the grey
to a sunny day

Gillena Cox, T&T, 2006

Related words

kurenai くれない【紅】 crimson red, deep red

. WKD : The color RED in Japanese Culture   


soga iro 承和色 (そがいろ)light yellow of the soga chrysanthemum

torinoko iro とりのこいろ / 鳥の子色 "chicken color" whitish
color of an egg


***** asagi あさぎ - 浅黄 - 浅葱 hues of light yellow, green and blue

***** BLACK (kuro, koku)

***** BLUE (aoi) the color of sky and water

***** GREEN (midori) and BLUE-GREEN (aoi)

***** RED, the color red (kurenai, aka, shu)

***** WHITE (shiroi, haku)

***** Violett and Purple : MURASAKI in Haiku

***** YELLOW and Gold and Yamabuki

. Goshiki 五色 "the five colors"
a Buddhist concept

. Colorful Haiku Collection .


plant kigo for early summer

rikyuubai 利休梅 (りきゅうばい) "Rikyu plum"
..... 利久梅(りきゅうばい)
リキュウバイ - Exochorda racemosa
Pearlbush or Common Pearlbush, is a species of plant in the rose family.





Anonymous said...

what interesting reading on the colours grey and green

Much Love


Anonymous said...

Gabi, these are fascinating. We've been discussing color on the art teachers' lists. I'm going to post your links over there too.



sakuo said...

Frankly speaking,
I could not paint picture with 利休鼠 color.


Reza said...

Azure -
Birds and fishermen
Going fishing

Gabi Greve said...

Dear Reza san,
thanks for posting your haiku.

I would love to read the haiku in your language shown in your BLOG!

The photo with the large tree looks very interesting!

Thank you again and keep contact!


Gabi Greve said...

red and green -
colors to match
a haiku
pink and green -
colors to match
a haiku
yellow and green -
colors to match
a haiku
Look at our paddies and flowers in June!

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

iki いき / イキ / 粋 / 意気 the CHIC of Edo

The Structure of "Iki" 「いき」の構造, "Iki" no kōzō
Shūzō Kuki 九鬼 周造 Kuki Shūzō, Kuki Shuzo,
(February 15, 1888 – May 6, 1941)

Gabi Greve said...

Color in Ancient and Medieval East Asia

With essays by Monica Bethe, Mary M Dusenbury, Shih-shan Susan Huang, Ikumi Kaminishi, Guolong Lai, Richard Laursen, Liu Jian and Zhao Feng, Chika Mouri, Park Ah-rim, Hillary Pedersen, Lisa Shekede and Su Bomin, Sim Yeon-ok and Lee Seonyong, Tanaka Yoko, and Zhao Feng and Long Bo

Color was a critical element in East Asian life and thought, but its importance has been largely overlooked in Western scholarship. This interdisciplinary volume explores the fascinating roles that color played in the society, politics, thought, art, and ritual practices of ancient and medieval East Asia (ca. 1600 B.C.E.–ca. 1400 C.E.). While the Western world has always linked color with the spectrum of light, in East Asian civilizations colors were associated with the specific plant or mineral substances from which they were derived.

Many of these substances served as potent medicines and elixirs, and their transformative powers were extended to the dyes and pigments they produced. Generously illustrated, this groundbreaking publication constitutes the first inclusive study of color in East Asia.
It is the outcome of years of collaboration between chemists, conservators, archaeologists, historians of art and literature, and scholars of Buddhism and Daoism from the United States, East Asia, and Europe.