Kikkou | 亀甲 | Tortoise Shells

This is a very common pattern on men’s kimonos, but is still used in many unique ways on women’s kimonos, obis, and other accessories. If you’ve seen a tortoise before, you will understand where the kikkou pattern originated.

Closeup photograph of a mens kimono showing a simple light-blue hexagonal tortoise shell pattern.

This image is of a men's kimono, with a simple tortoise shell pattern weaved into the fabric.

The old proverb says that “a crane lives for a thousand years, but a tortoise lives for ten thousand,” so this pattern symbolizes good health and longevity to a much greater extent than herons, which also represent good health, longevity, and good fortune.

Abstract hexagonal tortoise shell pattern that is made out of pine needles.

This image showcases how the tortoise shell pattern can be constructed out of other objects used on kimonos, such as pine needles.

Because there are sometimes interesting patterns and shapes inside of each geometric shape in a tortoise shell, artisans have been inspired to add flowers, animals, scenery, and other patterns inside of each segment.

Golden and orange tortoise shell pattern in a more traditional style, which fills in the shape of a cloud.

Here you can see a golden and orange tortoise shell pattern in a more traditional style, which fills in the shape of a cloud.

If you look at enough kimonos, you’ll see many different takes on how to use the hexagonal tortoise shell shape. 

Artistic take on the tortoise shell pattern, with flowers, plants, and rivers inside the inner oval and flowers in the gap between the oval and the edges.

You can also see things like this artistic take on the tortoise shell pattern, with flowers, plants, and rivers inside the inner oval and flowers in the gap between the oval and the edges.

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