The two screens form a pair.
The sketch for this painting, depicting scenes in the city of Kyōto and its surroundings, was produced immediately after the procession, which took place during the visit of the emperor for the Gion festival on 6 September 1626, the third year of the Kan’ei era. The pair of screens provides both a panoramic view of the city and a detailed depiction of various aspects of the life of its inhabitants. Clouds surround and isolate spaces and monuments, enclosing them in a beautiful golden net.
The Emperor Gomizuno-o went to Nijō Castle, the residence of the shōgun, which dominates the left-hand of the screen with its towering central building. Painted near the castle is the house of the governor, who administered the affairs of the capital and Japan’s eight central provinces on the shōgun’s behalf. The painting is not only a wonderfully vivid and accurate depiction of the imperial procession, but also features a number of places, temples and palaces that can still be seen by Japanese and foreign visitors.
The pair of screens is one of the few from this period still in perfect condition. A similar pair in terms of composition and arrangement of the architectural elements is part of the Burke collection in New York. Another example, with an identical treatment of embossed golden clouds but a more dense arrangement of the figurative elements, is the pair preserved in the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. Kyōto, founded in 794, was formerly called Heian-kyō (Capital of Peace and Tranquillity) and remained the capital of Japan until the beginning of the Meiji era (1868). The site was selection in accordance with Chinese geomantic criteria.