MOVING PICTURES

Sights In and Around Kyoto

Lose yourself in 17th-century Kyoto with BBC Radio 4's Cathy Fitzgerald

Looking at these two sumptuously ornate screens from afar, our eyes are dazzled by the glittering swathes of gold leaf, and we're struck by the enormity and grandeur of the scene. But on zooming in, we find people just like you and I, going about their daily business. While you won’t spot them at first glance, these screens feature a wealth of tiny everyday scenes depicting all walks of life: pilgrims climb steps to a temple; a woman in a beautiful kimono kneels at the feet of a priest; a woman carrying her child goes shopping for melons; a man picks his ears while waiting in a queue... yes, really.

Come with us on a walk around 17th-century Kyoto to explore these magical details up close.

Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

Playing around

Here we can see a toyshop. But what are those two men doing outside of it? And what's in the boxes they hold in front of them?

Detail from Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

Back in black

What's up with this figure? Their clothes can give us a few clues as to who they are...

Detail from Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

Strange shave

Here we can see a couple of people visiting the hairdressers. But these look like some fairly odd haircuts. Why are they just getting the tops of their heads shaved?

Detail from Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

From across the seas

These guys look more than a little out of place... Note the peacocks in their arms and the strange animals in cages. Who are they and where have they come from? And what's so special about their clothes?

Detail from Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

All for love

Here we can see a samurai on top of a festival float. But he's stolen something that doesn't belong to him...

Detail from Sights in and around Kyoto, Mid Genna era (1615-24), Artist Unknown (Collection: Shimane Art Museum)

Discover the answers to these mysteries and continue your journey through this 17th-century masterpiece with BBC Radio 4's Moving Pictures series. Start the audio here, and click back to Google Arts & Culture to let Cathy Fitzgerald be your guide on a tour of the city.

Or explore Bruegel's The Harvesters with Moving Pictures here.

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