A decorative knot, known as hanamusubi (a flower knot in English) is shaped like a flower or tiny insect placed on a small bag. These creations were used in tea and incense practices in Japan during the Edo period (1603–1868). While scholars have studied tea and incense utensils in the context of Japanese art and design, hanamusubi remains thoroughly unexamined. This exclusion may be the result of the ephemeral knotting practice. In most cases, once the thread is knotted on top of small bags used in tea and incense practice, the knots are untied after the practice. Therefore, this paper aims to explore the ways in which historical accounts narrate practices of hanamusubi as part of the culture in the Edo period and examine its subsequent values. Hanamusubi has had a role in expressing social and cultural values in the context of decoration. The visual documentation of the use of hanamusubi started to be observed during the middle of the Edo period. Hanamusubi, often employed in tea and incense practices, can stand as both an imagined flower and a codified language, which has been constructed over generations. Intriguingly, a hanamusubi is simply an assembly of lines; however, it can carry specific images and function as a language. This paper analyzes how hanamusubi use developed in tea and incense practices. Through the course of the investigation, this paper will focus on the visual documentation of hanamusubi in tea and incense practices and the development of its use during the Edo period.


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