Travel: Symbolism in Japanese Culture

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Japan is an ancient civilization that has a lot of symbolism—things that were passed from one generation to another, all of which have also trickled down to different parts of the world. From flowers to koi, there is so much to learn about Japanese culture. Today, we will discuss the most common Japanese symbols that we see day to day and what they mean.


Also called choho, butterflies in Japan represent the souls of the living and also the dead. There is a belief that spirits that have already passed from the living take the form of a butterfly. In the butterfly form, they journey to the next world.

The butterfly is also a symbol that represents girls who are now maturing into a lady. The meaning of this symbolism is that the young child is now ready to spread its wings and journey through life. It is also natural to see butterflies dance around each other, and so this is also a symbol of a long and happy marriage.


The koi fish, which is a kind of carp, is probably one of the best-known Asian symbols in the world after the dragon. The word “koi” means carp, as the fish itself is a carp variety.

The koi is a symbol of perseverance. This meaning is taken from the fact that koi fish has a tendency to swim upstream. They resist the flow of water, and people who persist are viewed as such because of the fish that does not give up.

The koi is so popular that you see it everywhere. They are in designs and decors, and there are many games that use the koi as the basis of the story, like the Koi Princess slot machine.


Turtles are called “kame” in Japan. It is a symbol of wisdom, as turtles are known to live long. The turtle is also a symbol for luck and protection, as it has a hard shell that protects it. The wisdom comes from old age. In ancient stories, the turtle is one that unites heaven and earth. The shell is a representation of heaven, while its belly underside, which is square, a representation of the earth. Because of this, the turtle symbol is always used as a good luck charm.


Although the Chinese and the Europeans have dragons too, the Japanese dragon has no wings. In Japan, the dragon is called “Tatsu.” The dragon is a significant symbol, as it represents the power of an empire. The dragon is an intelligent being, and it is the harbinger of strength and success. In Japan, it is not unusual to see figurines of the dragon in business establishments and offices. The dragon is a reminder of the best things that life has to give.

Zen Circle

This circle is also called the Enso. It is a circle produced with a calligraphy pen—a brush and ink. The Enso refers to the emptiness of the mind, not in a bad way, but in a good one. Upon closer introspection, the lesson we learn from this symbol is that you have to empty your mind before you understand the universe.

The Enso is also a symbol of enlightenment and elegance. It is a symbol circle that has a minimalist look to it. The symbol represents minimalist aesthetics in an art form.


Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun. It is also the most important god in Japanese religion. According to ancient history, the first emperor of Japan is the grandson of the Sun-God. The flag of Japan also has the sun, which has a long history. Fishermen used it to signify a large catch, while feudal warlords used it as a war flag.


The samurai is a warrior that welded the katana. Although the samurai no longer exist, they will remain forever etched in the history and traditions of Japan. The samurai is a representation of the Bushido code. It means the way of the warrior. They are role models of discipline and respect. They are symbols of courage and ethical behaviour.

The samurai, along with the katana or the sword, is also embedded in popular culture. You could see them everywhere—from movies to superhero comic books and even in online casinos with the best casino slot machines.


The last on our list is the bonsai. It is a miniaturized tree that the Japanese people took from China. However, it is the Japanese that gave the bonsai a new life. The bonsai can be any tree that was grown in a pot. It is essentially a symbol of peace and harmony. Over the years, the art of bonsai has become deeper, and now it is used to communicate ideologies and emotions.

Bonsai art is complicated. It takes years to be able to grow a tree, so the bonsai is also a symbol of patience and perseverance. Only those who have these two traits will be able to produce high-quality bonsai trees.

Japan is a society that has a rich culture—from shrines and the sport of sumo to their cuisine, there is a lot to take in and absorb. If you have means, you should visit Japan one day.

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