Nanban Byōbu (Europeans at a port) / Right screen *Important art object

Early 17th century (Momoyama period)

Sakai City Museum
Sakai-shi, Osaka, Japan

“Nanban Byōbu” is a collective term that refers to the folding screens depicting visitors from Europe, mainly from Portugal, who had connections with Japan during about one hundred years of the Azuchi-momoyama through early Edo period. Though most works were made in a short period of time, from the Momoyama period through the time of the Anti-Christian Edicts and the National Isolation Edicts, the end of the 16th through early 17th century, as many as 70 extant screens are known today. The fact they were so popular indicates how Japanese people were curious about and interested in Westerners, showing very unique characteristics of Namban Byobu.
On the left screen a ship from Europe entering the harbor and the scene of discharging are depicted. The box-like shape of the European vessel might be because it has lost its original shape through repeated duplication, or it might be a completely imaginary picture rather than an actually seen one.
Looking to the right screen, the person under the parasol a slave holds, who appears to be the captain of the ship, is being welcomed by the Jesuit missionaries. Above this scene are two missionaries seen on the veranda of a temple. On the right of this screen are the curious Japanese people and their shops.


  • Title: Nanban Byōbu (Europeans at a port) / Right screen *Important art object
  • Date Created: Early 17th century (Momoyama period)
  • Original Source: Sakai City Museum
  • Medium: pair of six-panel folding screens / color on gold-leafed paper

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