Child’s kimono for a special occasion with design of prawns
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

This is not a traditional motif for a either a child’s or an adult’s kimono. Possibly it was originally a juban (under kimono) whose usable parts were salvaged and made into a child’s kimono when it could no longer be worn as a juban. The large and dramatic design seems to place this piece in the Taisho or early Showa periods.

Prawns are associated with long life in Japan. Their rounded backs were reminiscent of the backs of the elderly at a time when few people lived to old age. So strong is this connection that the Japanese character for prawn literally reads ‘old man of the sea’. Because they are symbolic of longevity, prawns are among the dishes comprising osechi ryori – foods traditionally eaten at new year’s to start the year off in an auspicious manner.