Museum no. T.87-1968
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This is a summer kimono, or katabira, the cool linen-like cloth being highly suitable for Japan's humid weather. The iris and bridge motif relates to a famous passage in the 10th century Tales of Ise, one of the most famous works of classical Japanese literature. In the ninth chapter the hero Ariwara no Narihira comes to a place in Mikawa province noted for its eightfold bridge and irises and composes a poem using the syllables of kakitsubata, the Japanese word for iris, as the first syllable of each of the lines. The crests, or mon, across the shoulders are those of the Tokugawa, the military family who ruled Japan in the Edo period (1615-1868).