Kimono with snowy pines, bamboo and boats, possibly depicting scenes from the Nō play 'Ashikari' (The Reed Cutter)

On display

This short-sleeved kimono would have been made for a married woman to wear on a formal occasion in the winter. It dates from the late nineteenth century, when western dress had been introduced but formal wear frequently remained traditional. The family crest along the top of the kimono depicts three leaves of the wild ginger plant (aoi mon). This crest was used by branches of the ruling Tokugawa family during the Edo period (1600–1868).

The style of the decoration is known as tsuma moyō, meaning ‘below the waist’, which became popular from the mid-eighteenth century among women of the merchant class. The design of snow-laden pines and bamboo includes a hut tucked away in the mountains and three boats moored in the river beneath a stone bridge. This design could be referring to a Nō play, known as Ashikari (The Reed Cutter). The story tells of a couple who had to separate as the husband could no longer support his wife. She went to the capital, Kyoto to earn a living and he became a reed cutter in the mountains. After several years she decided to go and look for him and eventually found him in a remote cottage in the hills and persuaded him to return to the capital with her, so that they could be together again.

Kimono often had designs which illustrated themes from classical literature, giving the wearer a certain kudos, particularly if she was a member of the merchant class but with the money to afford expensive garments.


  • Title

    Kimono with snowy pines, bamboo and boats, possibly depicting scenes from the Nō play 'Ashikari' (The Reed Cutter)

  • Associated place

    Japan (place of creation)
  • Date

    1850 - 1900
  • Material and technique

    silk crêpe with yῡzen paste-resist dyeing, embroidered with silk and metallic thread

  • Object type

  • Dimensions

    173 x 124 cm (height x width)
  • No. of items


  • Credit line

    Presented by the family of the late Mr and Mrs J. G. Legge, 1957.

  • Museum location

    Second floor | Gallery 37 | Japan 1600 - 1850
  • Museum department

    Eastern Art

  • Accession no.


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