Snow Moon Flowers

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Snow, Moon and Flowers(雪月花, setsu-getsu-ka or setsu gekka), a topic in art and design borrowed from old China,[1] was quite popular in the late Edo-Period.


This threefold theme (in Japan, flowers mean always cherry blossoms) is held together in several ways. Most obviously it refers to the seasons of the year:[2] snow = winter, moon = autumn and flowers = spring. But one could also think it as representations of three whites: blue-white = winter, yellow-white = autumn and pink-white = spring.

Ukiyo-e artists liked to sell prints in series, sometimes even scrolls were painted to be hanged together. Artists liked to combine it with three women, three well known landscapes (moon always with reflecting water) etc.

"Snow, moon and flowers" appear also as decoration on boxes, backside of traditional mirrors etc.

Katsukawa Shunshō (1726-1793) Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828)
Shunshô SGK 3 Frauen.jpg
Hôitsu SGK Rollbilder.jpg
from left to right:
--- Sei Shōnagon (winter)
------- Murasaki Shikibu (autumn)
------------ Ono no Komachi (spring)
Snow Moon Flowers
  • Prints by Shiba Kōkan, signed as Suzuki Harushige (1747-1818)


  1. ^ E.g. Bai Juyi: “At the time of snow, moon and flowers, I think of you”.
  2. ^ The short hot summer is skipped.
  3. ^ Hiroshige uses whirlpools to imitate flowers


  • Nippon Daihyakka Zensho - Encyclopedia Nipponica 2001 (E-Book version). Shogakukan, Tokyo 1996.