In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Japanese still used a lunar calendar in which the new year began in early to mid-February (in1999 the lunar new year began on February 16). The first three months of this calendar were designated as spring, thus the weather depicted in some of the prints on view is more wintry than might be expected for "spring" in the united States. In Japan, the flowers most closely identified with this season are the plum (ume), certain varieties of camellia (tsubaki), the peach (momo), and most of all, the cherry (sakura). The plum and camellias usually blossom at the beginning of the new year and so are traditionally depicted with a covering of snow. The peach and cherry flower later. The poems inscribed on the prints draw upon a rich tradition of allusion, derived from both Chinese and Japanese poetic literature and specific to each type of blossom. In composition, these images have evolved from classical Chinese painted subjects to become uniquely Japanese renditions of the "birds and flowers" (kacho-e) theme.