Flowers of the Seasons


Flowers of the Seasons

Kitagawa Utamaro
Yoshikawa Kōbunkan


Print is Public Domain; Photography is:   Creative Commons License


These two books, a 1916 reproduction of a set produced by Utamaro in 1801 titled Ehon Shiki no Hana (絵本四季の花), introduce the four seasons along with beautiful courtesans and their fashionable clothing. Many different events are depicted by Utamaro in the books, most depicting courtesans as beautiful and stately women who are almost otherworldly in their elegance, but with the cheeky addition of a few prints showing the beautiful women caught off-guard by the weather in much more "real" or relatable scenes.

Single-page woodblock prints of flowers on the first and last pages are used to introduce the seasons, with Kerria japonica (yamabuki) denoting winter, irises representing summer, chrysanthemums for autumn, and narcissi for spring.

The margins of the pages in the reproduction are noticeably wider than those in the original, probably to give a luxurious feel to the set.

All in all, this is a carefully printed reproduction of a work through which Utamaro gave his readers a peek into the glamourous lives of the top courtesans of Japan...

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