Listen to 17th-Century Kyoto Come to Life

Look, listen, and discover the city of Kyoto during the Edo period

By Google Arts & Culture

Sights in and around Kyoto (1615-1624) by UnknownOriginal Source: Bureau of Public Enterprise Shimane Prefectural Government/Deposited in Shimane Art MuseumBureau of Public Enterprise Shimane Prefectural Government/Deposited in Shimane Art Museum

Detail 01 - Kyoto

We’re flying, up high above the clouds, covering distance, but also rewinding time.

Detail 02 - Kyoto

Let’s glide a bit lower, to where the clouds disperse. We’re in Kyoto, the capital of Japan in the 17th century.

Detail 03 - Kyoto

The golden clouds adorning this folding screen isolate the various scenes, but they also have a practical purpose: in a world without electricity, their large golden surfaces had the virtue of reflecting candlelight and lighting rooms.

Detail 04 - Kyoto

Under the clouds, the city teems with life, animated by around 1800 figures belonging to all ages and social classes. Each one is painted in a simple style, but retains a unique character. How did these people live their daily lives in Kyoto during the Edo period?

Detail 05 - Kyoto

Some of the pictured activities still take place today, such as the parade of traditional floats at the Gion Festival.

Detail 06 - Kyoto

Or Sumo wrestling.

Detail 07 - Kyoto

While others are a sign of the 17th Century times. Here, a group of people attend the show of a trained monkey.

Detail 08 - Kyoto

Then as now, the city was a destination for western visitors. The members of this delegation are depicted with lengthened noses, exotic animals, and showy garments. Travellers from the West, who stirred the inhabitants' and artist’s curiosity.

Detail 09 - Kyoto

Alongside these events, the life of the residents flows through its daily routine. Traders display their wares in their stalls along a market street.

Detail 10 - Kyoto

And fishermen pursue their catch of the day along the river.

Detail 11 - Kyoto

There's much, much more to see! Have you spotted the furyu-odori dance? Visited the Nijo castle? Carry on flying over Kyoto and let yourselves be captured by the life of this tiny, great ancient world, by zooming into the work for yourself.

Credits: Story

Text and sounds by eArs ▬ making arts & culture a place for everybody

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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