These three gorgeous iro-uchikake (colourful kimono over-robes, as opposed to the all-white shiromuku) belong to the collection of Japanese costume specialist Mamiko Sato Damji. The colours red, gold, bronze and orange are among the most popular choices for wedding ensembles in Japan.
A red silk uchikake with embroidered cranes
This red figured silk satin uchikake is adorned with 16 Japanese cranes - that is 8 pairs. Cranes mate for life and are therefore symbols of fidelity and loyalty. The number 8 is generally considered a lucky number in Japan, and both 8 and 16 are auspicious in Buddhism, symbolising the noble eightfold path and the sixteen arhats (enlightened ones).
A gold silk uchikake with a woven design of flowers, foliage and cranes
This orange-gold uchikake is almost completely covered in seasonal flowers (iris, peony and chrysanthemum) and foliage (the 'three friends of winter': pine, bamboo and plum), with cranes flying among them. The flowers symbolise abundance, the foliage integrity and perseverance, and the cranes loyalty. This is a rather unusual uchikake robe in that the design is actually woven into the fabric, rather than embroidered or painted onto the silk.
A cream silk uchikake with a design of golden pine branches and flower carts
This uchikake is embroidered with the traditional Japanese flowers and plants of the four seasons, which are so abundant that they almost obscure the black and gold lacquered flower carts (look for the black spokes of the wheels). These carts, called hanaguruma, are very like the western cornucopia in that they symbolise abundance and fertility. The flowers and plants of the four seasons that are depicted are plum (spring), peony and chrysanthemum (summer), Japanese momiji maple (autumn) and pine boughs (winter).