Because of their elegance herons are continuously portrayed in Japanese art, from poetry to painting these birds are one of the most recurring bird motifs. In China, the heron represents strength, purity, patience and long life. In other cultures, the heron carries positive symbolisms, from representing good judgement skills, to being the creator of light.
Herons are also believed to be a symbol for someone who is following a righteous path towards a great and honourable life, even enlightenment. Because of this, many officials and samurai clans adopted the heron as their insignia.
White Heron Standing in the Rain by Ohara Koson (1928)
In general they tend to be associated with winter and due to the snowy or rainy scenes they tend to be a part of, they can also stand for standing strong and upright against adversity, enduring difficulties without losing sight of one's values.