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Sei Shonagon, a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese empress, describes in her Pillow Book an everyday winter scene at court in about 995. It could well be the subject of a Japanese colour print some seven centuries later:

'One day, when the snow lay thick on the ground and was still coming down heavily, I saw some gentlemen of the Fourth and Fifth Ranks who had a fresh complexion and a pleasant, youthful look. Their beautifully coloured Court robes, which they wore over their night-watch costumes, were tucked up at the bottom and showed the marks of their leather belts. Their dark purple trousers stood out beautifully against the white snow. I could also see their under-jackets, some of scarlet, others dyed a beautiful rose-yellow. The men had opened their umbrellas, but since it was very windy the snow came at them from the side and they bent forward slightly as they walked. The sparkling white snow covered them all the way to the tips of their lacquered leather shoes or short clogs - a magnificent sight.'

Sei Shonagon The Pillow Book, translated Ivan Morris, Penguin 1967, pages 211-2

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