Yesterday, Tokyo woke up to their first November snow in over 50 years. The last time the first snowfall, called hatsuyuki (初雪) occurred in November was in 1962. But at the time it didn’t even stick. So if you go back to the first accumulation of snow, Tokyo truly hasn’t seen anything like this since records began in 1875. So for a city with typically dry winters, there was understandably a lot of flurry and frenzy in the air.
So we thought it would be fun to take a look at some ukiyo-e that illustrate what snowfall was like in Edo-period Japan (1603-1868).
Building snow sculptures seems like a popular activity anywhere, but in Edo period Japan the “snow daruma” was more appropriate (print by Hiroshige Utagawa)
Children rolling a large snowball, and eating some as they go. (Print by Suzuki Harunobu)
The streets were obviously slippery back then too. Here’s a comedic scene of a man’s geta flying off his foot and hitting someone in the face.
Two girls make a a snow dog (Print by Harunobu Suzuki)
Kids rolling gigantic snow balls (print by Sadashige)
Court ladies showing a giant snow cat to a young prince Genji after the first snow (print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi)
This is one of the more iconic views of snowy Edo and part of the series “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” (print by Utagawa Hiroshige)
This is probably our favorite: a beautiful and fun image of children having a snowball fight and building a snow daruma (artist unknown )