Symbolic Beauties: The Meaning Behind Our Birds & Butterflies

At KIM+ONO, one thing that remains vitally important to us — whether it’s in creativity or business — is to have meaningful intention. We know that as fast as life can move, when we slow down and act with good intentions, we always make better choices. It’s something that has always been at the heart of what we do from the way we design our pieces, to the layout of our kimono store, to the way we interact as a team. Meaningful intention is behind every action.


And we know you understand, lovely, because that’s what you do, too. In every part of your day, you bring your intentions and those intentions create meaning in your life. Even the simple act of choosing what to cook your family for dinner becomes imbued with meaning because of the way you do it. And this is true in every single part of your day. This is why we created our modern kimono robes — to give you another way to express your intentions and bring meaning into every moment. From the softness of the silk to the fluid liquid drape in every piece, we have intended for these designs to give you a deep breath and deeper connection to what’s important to you.

Part of our process in bringing that meaning to life is through the symbolism included in every design. While we don’t replicate traditional Japanese kimono, we do take inspiration from the aesthetics and history of the traditional garment. That rich history and the symbolic nature of the images that have inspired our co-founders, sisters Renee and Tiffany Tam, are woven into each and every piece that we create. So today in the journal, we’re giving you a closer look at the symbolic beauty behind some of our most meaningful symbols — the butterfly and the crane — so you can understand where our intentions came from and how those intentions can bring meaning to your life each time you slip into your silk kimono robe.

Washable Silk Peony & Butterfly Kimono Robe
Photo by Delbarr Moradi
The Meaning Behind Each Beautiful Butterfly

You probably already know the meaning behind the butterfly symbol. Across many cultures in addition to our founders’ Asian heritage, the butterfly represents transformation. The caterpillar starts off in one physical form, goes into its cocoon, and reveals itself at the end of its metamorphosis as a beautiful butterfly, taking its physical form into a brand new way of being in the world. The butterfly represents transformation from one form to a brand new one. It is a symbol of transition and strength in that transition. In Chinese heritage, the butterfly represents a sort of freedom, becoming unbound from reality and elevating into a new form of existence. It’s a beautiful metaphor for life after death (physical or spiritual), and in Japanese heritage, the butterfly even is said to help guide and transition spirits into the afterlife.

In addition to the rich meaning of transformation, the butterfly also has come to represent femininity and womanhood in both cultures because of its grace and beauty. Even the Japanese obi (sash) worn with traditional Japanese kimono can be tied into a “butterfly knot”. And the motif of the butterfly can be found on traditional yukata as well as our modern silk kimono robes.

Washable Silk Peony & Butterfly Kimono Robe
Photo by Maria Del Rio

Whether you’re getting married, starting a family, building a business, starting therapy, transitioning into a more authentic identity, celebrating your friendships, or taking each day to become more you — the butterfly celebrates your everyday transformations. It celebrates what you let go, and how you elevate into a more fully realized, all-encompassing version of yourself every day. Whether you choose to wear our washable silk kimono robes or plus size kimono robes, the butterfly is a symbol to enrich your journey, reminding you that nothing is ever truly lost, but that you also always have the opportunity to grow into a fuller and more enlivened version of yourself every single day.

Handpainted Silk Crane Kimono Robe
Photo by Stephanie Russo
The Symbolism of the Crane in our Charmeuse & Handpainted Silk Kimono Robes

The crane is an integral symbol of both Chinese and Japanese culture. In Chinese culture, cranes have a mythological status, embodying longevity and peace, and the second most beloved bird symbol after the phoenix. Whenever the crane appears in Chinese art, the posture tells a story. A crane that is shown with its wings stretched out represents longevity, as is seen in our plus size kimono robes and Charmeuse Collection. When it is shown under a pine tree near a spotted deer, it symbolizes a prolonged life. And a crane shown among florals stands for prosperity, longevity, and purity, like in our handpainted silk kimono robes.

In Japanese culture, the crane is referred to as the “bird of happiness”. In Japan, it is traditionally believed that the wings of the crane carry souls up to paradise and mothers will pray for the protection of their children with the crane’s wings.

Cherry Blossom & Crane Kimono Wrap
Photo by Rudney Novaes

All in all, the crane represents all wonderful things — happiness, longevity, and good fortune. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of a marriage that you hope will be blessed with longevity, or a gift for yourself as you move to a new city and start a new life, hoping to be blessed with prosperity and good fortune. Whether you choose from our plus size kimono robes or silk kimono robes, the crane is a symbol that brings happiness, good fortune, and a beautiful sense of longevity to anyone who wears it.

Whether you choose the butterfly or the crane (or both!), we hope that you can find a symbol in each of our modern kimono robes that brings you a sense of calm and presence, grounding you in your intentions, wishes, and hopes. We hope knowing more about the symbols behind these meaningful designs helps to bring more intention to your day each time you wear them. Whether you’re gifting these pieces or getting one for yourself, always remember, you deserve a beautiful life, lovely, take care and be well.

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