Nadeshiko Flowers

On Wednesday, July 20, millions of people watched the Japanese women’s team, nicknamed Nadeshiko Japan, prevail in a dramatic victory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  This win lifted the spirits of the Japanese people from the turmoil of the March 11 tsunami and nuclear disaster.  Not many Americans are familiar with the word nadeshiko, but the Japanese know that it describes a women’s group.

Nadeshiko is a plant that is often called “Wild Pink” or “Fringed Pink” in English.  It grows in temperate zones of the Northern hemisphere.  While not very tall, Nadeshiko plants are dainty.  Their flowers bloom during the fall in gardens all across Japan.

 Nadeshiko plants and its flowers have been known since the 7th century, and often appear in Japanese waka, a thirty-one-syllable form of Japanese poetry.  The word nadeshiko personifies the beauty of Japanese women: elegant and tidy, just like nadeshiko flowers.

A few months ago, I wrote about the word Yamato in my blog. This word stands for the country of Japan.  Yamato and nadeshiko combined create the phrase Yamato-nadeshiko, a figure of speech that describes the beauty of Japanese women.

Perhaps today Yamato-nadeshiko is no longer used to represent the traditional Japanese ideal of feminine beauty, but Nadeshiko Japan team members are certainly symbols of Japan’s powerful, beautiful contemporary women.

Reiko Nishioka

Director of Education

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