Skip to Content ☰ Open Filter >>

Lady Tokiwa and Children Fleeing Kyoto in the Snow

Showing 1 of 1

Araki Kan’ichi, Japanese, (1827–1893)
Lady Tokiwa and Children Fleeing Kyoto in the Snow, c. 1880
Ink and colors on Silk
49 in. x 16 1/2 in. (124.46 cm x 41.91 cm)

Object Type: Scroll
Technique: Brushwork
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Accession Number: 2003.0.7

In this elegant painting, Japanese artist Araki Kan'ichi depicts one of Japan's most courageous mothers—the samurai heroine, Lady Tokiwa Gozen. Tokiwa lived in the 12th century, when military clans were vying for power, eventually leading to Genpei War of 1180-1185 and the establishment of a military government in Kamakura. The wife of Minamoto no Yoshitomo (1123-1160), she had three sons by him, and after Yoshitomo was murdered by military rival, Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), Tokiwa feared for their lives. Though it was the dead of winter, she fled Kyoto with them and headed southward for Fushimi, where she believed they would be safe. Kan'ichi represents Lady Tokiwa here struggling to shepherd her sons through a moonlit snowy landscape. She is clutching her youngest child, the infant Ushiwaka, who later grew up to be the legendary warrior Yoshitsune (1159-1189), to her breast inside her kimono, while her two older boys huddle for warmth like baby birds under her wing-like outer kimono.
Kan'ichi painted this compassionate portrait of a loving and protective samurai mother at a time—the late 19th century—when samurai power was dismantled and many native traditions were abandoned in favor of Western culture. The artist and his patron may have been motivated by a sense of nostalgia for a lost Japan, but the painting may also have been created because images of the power and strength of a loving mother are universal and timeless.

Meher McArthur, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Curator of Academic Programs and Collections

Kan’ichi painted in the Nihonga style, using traditional Japanese material and colors but incorporating Western art influences, such as subtle shading.

"1880" written on the scroll in pencil.

Signature and two square red seals in the lower right. Calligraphy on the upper verso.

Multicolored paints and gold on silk, with a beige silk brocade mounting.

Object Description
Japanese hanging scroll with an image of a woman walking with two children and a baby, through the snow at night. The woman is wearing a hat, and a shawl is wrapped around her and her children. There are two smudge spots on her forehead.


Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

Your current search criteria is: Objects is "Lady Tokiwa and Children Fleeing Kyoto in the Snow".