Book page   (Part of the set: Flowers of the Seasons)

Kitagawa Utamaro
Yoshikawa Kōbunkan


Print is Public Domain; Photography is:   Creative Commons License


This image of a yamabuki (Kerria japonica) is the first image in the set of two books, and is used to introduce winter in the new year. The flower, also known as the Japanese yellow rose, blooms from April to May in Japan and is usually used to denote spring, but in this book we see it being used to introduce winter through spring. Mentions of yamabuki are used in Japanese poetry to denote elegance and magnificence, and no doubt Utamaro knew this when he chose to use the flower as the first image in his set on the life of glamorous courtesans. The woodblock print itself is very simple compared with the other prints in the book, but does display some attention to detail, the stems and backs of leaves being printed using a lighter green pigment than the fronts of the leaves.

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