June in January

Winter garden obi

A garden frozen in time. Winter time. Yet this woman’s obi sash merits a closer look. The design seems to be all about the cold bleakness associated with this season, but there are one or two surprising inconsistencies.

The artist selected a perfect background colour to encourage us to feel the chill just by looking at the scene. The effect is further heightened by using a spattering technique to indicate snow fall.

The water spout is literally frozen in time. But other design aspects break with a true representation of real winter garden.

The Japanese term ‘Esoragoto’, literally ‘invented picture” places a requirement on the artist to take certain liberties with Nature. A closer look at this obi’s design reveals subtle alternatives to reality.

In the foreground, Kakitsubata - Rabbit’s Ear Irises - bloom in full flower, yet do not exist in winter. Normally blue or purple, these are a ghostly yellow hue. The artist thus encourages observers to engage in a sense longing for the return of the vibrant colours of early summer.

Leaning against a bamboo frame above the irises, fringed dianthus flowers known as “pinks”, after their natural colour, bloom out of season. The design continues the fiction by use of the same pale yellow as the irises, in this whimsical Japanese garden.

The Winter Garden obi is available here