Incomplete Triptychs

The above images are two panels from the triptych “Snow in the Park” by Yoshu Chikanobu. The triptych was created in 1892 (Meiji 25), and features images of women dressed in traditional kimono and geta walking through the snow. The images featured here are the center and right panels. The missing left panel features another woman watching a group of cats playing in front of a red Buddhist temple. 

Despite the westernization that influenced much of Japan at the time this triptych was created, traditional women’s clothing was largely unaffected, as women were kept out of the public spheres of politics and business. While Chikanobu’s intention was to depict a scene from the previous Tokugawa shogunate, his decision to depict the women in traditional garb is both a reminiscence of the fallen Tokugawa era, as well as an entirely correct depiction of the present.

The above images are two panels from the Triptych “Tango (Boy’s Festival) at the Chiyoda Palace” by Yoshu Chikanobu. They were created in 1895 (Meiji 28) as part of Chikanobu’s series of prints detailing the daily life of the Chiyoda Palace prior to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The images featured here are the left and right panels of the triptych. The missing center panel features a boy with a bird of prey and a courtly Lady-in-Waiting. The kabuki actors featured in the right panel are part of the day’s entertainment for the festival, and the spectators featured in the left panel are the ladies of the court observing from their seat in the covered palace. 

It is interesting that Chikanobu chose to depict a scene of noblewomen watching a kabuki theater performance, as kabuki was explicitly shunned by the noble class as entertainment for commoners. The noble classes were only supposed to attend Noh theater performances, which were considered high art, and which were forbidden to the common people except during a few traditional festivals. However, when the shogunate fell, kabuki experienced an increase in popularity and became acceptabe entertainment for the upper classes to enjoy as well.

Snow in the Park (center panel)

by Yōshū Chikanobu


"Snow in the Park", center panel

Snow in the Park (right panel)

by Yōshū Chikanobu


"Snow in the Park", right panel

[Kabuki Theater Performance] (left panel)

by Yōshū Chikanobu


"[Kabuki Theater Performance]", left panel

[Kabuki Theater Performance] (right panel)

by Yōshū Chikanobu


"[Kabukia Theater Performance]", right panel

Incomplete Triptychs