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16 Beautiful Kono Bairei Prints of Japanese Flowers and Birds

Dive deep into the world of Kono Bairei, Japan’s Meiji era maestro, and his mesmerizing paintings of flowers and birds. Get free printables of his works!

Kōno Bairei was not just an artist; he was a storyteller. Every stroke of his brush told tales of Japan’s natural beauty, from the delicate intricacies of blooming flowers to graceful birds.

Born in the cultural heartland of Kyoto in 1844, Bairei’s life was as vibrant as his canvases. He was one of the pioneering figures of the Nihonga style, a traditional Japanese painting technique.

What is Nihonga Style Art

Nihonga” means “Japanese painting.” This style began in the Meiji period (1868-1912) as Japan rapidly embraced Westernization. Artists created this style to set traditional Japanese painting techniques apart from Western methods.

Nihonga paintings can depict a range of subjects, from landscapes to mythological narratives, but they consistently use traditional Japanese materials. Artists craft the pigments from natural minerals, shells, and corals, then mix them with animal glue before applying them to the canvas. They often incorporate gold and silver leaf into their work.

Nihonga encompasses various subjects but always upholds Japanese traditions, techniques, and materials. Although it frequently represents traditional themes, artists can use Nihonga for modern topics, keeping the style current and vibrant.

Vintage Japanese Birds and Flowers by Kono Bairei

Kono Bairei Birds & Flower Prints

The enchanting bird and flower paintings by Kono Bairei enhance our vast collection of vintage Japanese art and design featured on the site.

This collection also showcases the mesmerizing avian art of Ohara Koson and the iconic Edo pieces by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Moreover, the group is enriched with intricate Japanese patterns and designs from the Shin-Bijutsukai.

All these captivating vintage illustrations of birds and flowers are in the Public Domain and available for printing.

Click on the desired print’s title, and a high-resolution image will appear in a new window. From there, you can either save or directly print the image.

Kono Bairei Prints 1-5

Print 1: Jays & Plum Blossom

In Japanese art, the combination of birds and blossoms often creates a harmonious representation of nature, capturing moments of fleeting beauty and eternal elegance.

With its lively energy paired with fleeting blossoms, the jay captures life’s vibrant yet fleeting moments.

Plum blossoms represent perseverance and hope, as they bloom while snow is still on the ground, heralding the approach of spring.

Kono Bairei Plum Blossoms and Jays

Print 2: Cherry Blossom & Gulls

Blossoms, especially cherry blossoms (sakura), are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and aesthetics. Due to their short blooming season, cherry blossoms symbolize the transient nature of life.

Kono Bairei Painting Cherry Blossom and Gulls

Print 3: Peonies & Silver Pheasants

Peonies, known as ‘Botan‘ in Japanese, are often called the “King of Flowers.” They symbolize wealth, nobility, honour, and bravery. Their luxurious and full blooms represent prosperity and good fortune.

Kono Bairei Print Peonies and Silver Pheasants

Print 4: Cockatoo On Swing

Cockatoos, native to Australia, were introduced to Japan during the late Edo period, symbolizing luxury and rarity due to their exotic nature. As Japan opened up to Western influences, these vibrant birds captured artists’ attention, appearing in ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

Kono Bairei Cockatoo on Perch

Print 5: Chinese Peony and Cranes

Cranes are cherished in Japanese art and culture, symbolizing longevity, good fortune, and purity. Featured prominently in everything from traditional origami and ukiyo-e prints to kimonos and legends, these graceful birds encapsulate ideals of peace and eternal youth, making them integral to Japanese artistic expression and cultural values.

Chinese Peony and cranes Kono Bairei

Bird & Flower Prints 6 -10

Print 6: Herons and Irises

The frequent depiction of Herons alongside calm waters or amidst reeds underscores their association with serene, natural landscapes and embodies the harmonious balance central to Japanese aesthetics.

Don’t forget to check out the collection of 40 beautiful Japanese Iris paintings on the site.

Heron and Irises Japanese Birds and Flower Painting

Print 7: Small Birds and Passion Flowers

In Japanese art, passion flowers are less common than traditional flora, like cherry blossoms. When depicted, they symbolize the allure of the unknown and nature’s intricacies, reflecting cultural exchanges between East and West.

Vintage Japanese painting of small birds and passion flowers

Print 8: Exotic Birds and Chrysanthemums

In Japanese art, chrysanthemums, or “kiku,” symbolize longevity and rejuvenation. Their vibrant blooms are often depicted in traditional artworks that reflect nature’s beauty and imperial elegance, representing the Emperor and the Imperial family.

Vintage Japanese painting of exotic birds and Chrysanthemums

Print 9: Woodpecker in a Cherry Tree

Woodpecker in a Cherry Tree Vintage Japanese Art

Print 10: Crabapple Blossom & Peafowls

Given that Japan historically valued items and motifs from abroad, the peafowl, with its extravagant beauty, became a symbol of the exotic and the luxurious, representing a world outside of Japan’s islands.

Crab apple and Peafowls Kono Bairei painting

Kono Bairei Prints 11-16

In Japanese art, waxwings’ elegant look often represents nature’s beauty and sophistication.

Print 11: Pear blossoms and Bohemian waxwings

Pear Blossom and Bohemian Waxwings

Print 12: Japanese kerria and Cormorants

Its bright flowers and the contrast of its green stems against the snowy backdrop in winter make Japanese kerria a beautiful subject in traditional Japanese paintings and designs.

In Japan, this plant is called “yamabuki” (山吹). It appears in various forms of traditional art, poetry, and literature. The yamabuki flower is frequently referenced in Japanese poetry as a symbol of brightness and lightness, often juxtaposed against its absence, evoking a sense of nostalgia or longing.

Vintage Japanese art of birds and flowers Commoants Kono Bairei

Print 13: Japanese wisteria and white-bellied green pigeons

In Japan, wisteria is known as “fuji” (藤). It holds a notable place in Japanese culture and art. Gardens dedicated to the fuji, like the famous Ashikaga Flower Park, attract visitors worldwide with mesmerizing wisteria tunnels.

In art, literature, and poetry, wisteria often symbolizes love, sensuality, support through hard times, and even immortality due to its long lifespan.

Japanese Wisteria and White Bellied Green Pigeons Kono Bairei

Print 14: Ducks and Magnolia

With their graceful and striking blooms, Magnolia has held a special place in the art and culture of various Asian countries, including Japan.

Japanese painting ducks and magnolia

Print 15: Songbirds & Blossom

Songbirds and Blossom Kon Bairei Japanese Art

Print 16: Owls In Tree

The word for the owl in Japanese is “fukurou” (フクロウ). When broken down into its parts, “fuku” can mean “luck,” and “rou” can mean “to come,” which effectively translates to “luck is coming.” As such, owls are often considered harbingers of good luck and positive tidings.

Check out these other owl drawings on the site, including more Japanese paintings.

Japanese painting of Owl in tree

Other Vintage Prints

Don’t forget to check out all the other beautiful vintage botanical and vintage bird prints on the site. All are in the Public Domain and free to download.

If your interest is in birds and flowers then check out these tropical bird illustrations.

Or if you are into Japanese art and culture, these old maps of Japan and vintage Japanese photos are worth checking out. As well as the beautiful woodblock prints of Helen Hyde and this collection of Japanese fish illustrations.


Saturday 27th of January 2024

I have spent the last month searching for Japanese artwork and ephemera for a journal. Your images are some of the best I have come across! Thank you so much for sharing! I am certainly going to enjoy using these in my project.


Monday 29th of January 2024

Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed them. Have you seen the collection of images from the Shin Bijutsukai, they are great for scrapbooking projects.

Cara ~ Vintage Style Gal

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

I always love when you share posts like this, I save them and wonder what I can make with them. Thank you for sharing!


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

Thank you, vintage images are fun to craft with, especially decoupage crafts.


Sunday 20th of August 2023

These are so pretty. Love the Japanese designs, always been fond of those. I visited you via Saturday Sparks Link Party 578 I linked up this week with = 16+17 and this is a friendly reminder to come and join us at SeniorSalonPitStop. You will find the linkup information under BLOGGING.


Monday 21st of August 2023

Thank you so much. Yes, Japanese art and design is amazing.

Mary Beko

Monday 14th of August 2023

Just beautiful…


Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Cheers and thank you.