First Snowfall on the Lovers' Journey to His Hometown: Iwai Kumesaburō III as Umegawa

Accession Number

First Snowfall on the Lovers' Journey to His Hometown: Iwai Kumesaburō III as Umegawa

Utagawa Kunisada

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
woodblock print on paper

14 1/2 in x 9 1/2 in (36.8 cm x 24.2 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James Hayes

Subject matter
The Lovers’ Journey stories are based off of the puppy-play Meido no hikyaku, known as Courier for Hell, by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. It is the story of the lovers Chūbei, a courier, and Umegawa, a yūjo from the Shinmachi entertainment district. Chūbei uses his customers’ money to pay off Umegawa’s debt, and the two run away to his home town to escape punishment. There they die in the mountains. Often, the kabuki play took on a different scenery and title depending on the season in which it was performed.

Actor Iwai Kumesaburō III, here depiced as Umegawa, was also known as Iwai Hanshirō VIII. He was born in 1829 and active from the time he was a child in the early 1830s. He became famous for his performances as an onnagata, a word which means "female role" or "female form." He died in 1882.

Physical Description
The woman in the front of this print wears a purple robe with fans on it and an orange sash. Her hair is decorated with pins and combs, and she holds a piece of paper in her hand. Behind and above her, three men are seated in black robes with blue stoles. Each has a bookstand in front of him.
This is a left piece of a triptych (with 2003/1.473.2 and 2003/1.473.3).

Inscriptions: Umekawa; Toyokuni ga (Artist's signature); hori take (Carver's seal); (Publisher's seal obscured); aratame, tora 9 (Censor's seals)


Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
men (male humans)
stages (performance spaces)
theater (discipline)
women (female humans)

3 Related Resources

Kabuki Images
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)
Theater and Drama
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
"Japan", Gender, etc.
(Part of: body, physicality and form; mod/contemporary religious imagery (Asia Galleries Winter 2022 DRAFT))

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted