A photographic introduction to items from the collection

What was the reason for painting the "Folding Screens of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (Rekihaku Version A)"?

Known to be the oldest extant folding screen showing scenes in and around Kyoto, Rekihaku's "Folding Screens of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (Rekihaku Version A)" has incalculable value as an historical resource. It's a shame, however, that until now the circumstances surrounding its creation have been unclear.

Investigations conducted at the Museum in association with the holding of the special exhibition "Western Capital, Eastern Capital" in spring of this year have resulted in one explanation concerning this matter. Clues were provided by the pictures of a number of figures whose names we can identify. Here, we will look into the circumstances surrounding the creation of the folding screen while introducing individually each of the figures who appear in the screen.

The main focus of our attention is one painting on the right side of the left screen where the shogunate and the residence of the Hosokawa clan stand side by side. (Photo 1)

From left, kanrei Hosokawa residence (prime minister of the shogun), tenkyu residence, shogunate, dog shooting (upper right) (First, second, and third panels, left screen)
Note: All photos are of "Folding Screens of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (Rekihaku Version A)" in the Museum collection

Shogunate -- Ashikaga Yoshiharu(Photo 2)

The "kuhosama," in other words the shogunate, is not located at the site of the Flower Palace of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and successive shoguns, but is depicted in a location north of the residence of the Hosokawa clan. Since it is clear that this palace was built in 1525, it becomes an indicator of the earliest date of the landscape. The shogun at the time was the 12th shogun Yoshiharu. The son of the 11th shogun Yoshizumi who was forced to leave Kyoto, Yoshiharu was born in Omi and raised by the Akamatsu clan from Harima. He was made shogun by Hosokawa Takakuni who controlled the Muromachi Shogunate.

The painting shows a figure with his face obscured by an eave sitting inside a building thought to be a room used for social gatherings which looks onto a garden. Since people of high status were often portrayed with their heads obscured, we may conclude that this is a picture of the shogun Yoshiharu. Groups of influential people visiting the palace are seen coming and going in front of the palace gate, and retainers can be seen waiting, sitting in orderly fashion inside a forecourt while their masters are having an audience with the shogun.

Tenkyu residence -- Hosokawa Tadakata and Ujitsuna (Photo 3)

The word "tenkyu" comes from the Chinese name for a particular rank of official under the Ritsuryo system, and was the title given to a branch of the Hosokawa clan whose members filled this position for generations. Hosokawa Tadakata, Takakuni's cousin and the head tenkyu when Takakuni was in power, also appears in other screens showing scenes in and around Kyoto. It is thought that Tadakata is the man with the beard shown sitting on a veranda at the front of the building watching a drum performance. The young man sitting on the right is probably Tadakata's son Ujitsuna, who later became the last kanrei (shogun's deputy).

Ashikaga Yoshiharu (face obscured) (shogunate, first panel, left screen) Hosokawa Tadakata (person in center with beard) (Hosokawa tenkyu residence, second panel, left screen)

Kanrei residence -- Hosokawa Takakuni and Tanekuni (Photos 4 & 5)

The "Hosokawa tono" on the left near the "tenkyu residence" is the residence of the Hosokawa clan who inherited the position of kanrei. It is the home of Hosokawa Takakuni, who controlled the shogunate at that time. As is the case for the tenkyu residence, three men are shown sitting on a wide veranda at the front of the residence. The man in the middle with his back to the entrance to the building should be the head of the family. However, the person we see there appears young and is not the age of Takakuni who was 42 years old when Yoshiharu's palace was built in 1525. Since Takakuni had retired in April of that year and passed on the role of family head to his heir Tanekuni, it is probably he who appears confident and relaxed, sitting in the building at the back called an "umaya" that looks onto a garden. It is possible that it is 18 year-old Tanekuni, who has just succeeded from Takakuni, who is sitting on the wide veranda at the front of the building. The fact that he is being shown a birdcage probably has some hidden meaning related to his succession.

Hosokawa Tanekuni (on left side of veranda) (Hosokawa residence, third panel, left screen) Hosokawa Takakuni (Hosokawa residence, second panel, left screen)

Theme of the folding screen

The theme of the folding screen becomes apparent from the above figures shown at the shogun's residence, tenkyu residence, and the kanrei Hosokawa residence.

Hosokawa Takakuni was the victor in the power struggle that ensued following the assassination of Hosokawa Masamoto in 1507 in Kyoto. He built a palace for Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the new shogun he installed, made his heir Tanekuni succeed him as head of the Hosokawa family as well as kanrei and made his blood relative tenkyu Tadakata his aide, thus establishing a government that he watched over from behind the scenes. Even in the painting, the three men Yoshiharu, Tadakata and Tanekuni line up horizontally.

The horses with red felt saddles led by servants at the left corner in front of the shogun's residence and the Hosokawa residence were only permitted to be used with special permission from the shogun, so they indicate that there was a succession of influential people who came to visit the shogun and the Hosokawa family. The section from the shogunate to the Hosokawa residence is an idealized depiction which flaunts the government established by Takakuni at the height of his powers. Thus, it is possible that this Version A is a portrayal of this government of Takakuni's and the Kyoto which it controlled.

Date of production

However, this system collapsed all too soon. Tanekuni, who was given the task of taking over died suddenly that October. This further narrows down the date of this screen. In other words, Tanekuni was only able to be shown as the head of the family for the six-month period from April 21, 1525 when Takakuni retired to October 23 of the same year when Tanekuni died.

As for the shogunate being the same as the shogun's residence, Yoshiharu was to move in on December 19, 1525, but the residence was in fact not yet completed during this time. This picture is an imaginary depiction, envisioned by Takakuni, of a residence that was never actually built. Anticipating the completion of the palace, Takakuni probably ordered this screen on the occasion of his transferring his position of head of the family to Tanekuni before Yoshiharu moved into the palace.

出雲大社及境内周辺図 拝殿
The painter, Kano Motonobu (lower fifth panel, left screen) Sanjo-Nishi Kineda and his family watching a nightingale singing contest (sixth panel, right screen)

Painter(Photo 6)

So who painted this folding screen? As written in the Q&A section of Vol. 144 of this journal, there can be no doubt that the artist was Kano Motonobu, who was fifty years old at the time. The screen includes a drawing of a painter located at Motoseigan-ji Zushi, also known as Kano no Zushi, in northern Kyoto. Since Kano Motonobu is said to have lived there, the drawing is probably a self-portrait. Kano Motonobu had been one of the painters considered likely to have painted this folding screen. As Motonobu was also an official painter of the shogunate, it would have been most natural for Hosokawa Takakuni to commission him to paint the screen. Another possibility is that Motonobu could have suggested it to Takakuni. The depiction of fans in the screen could have meant either that Motonobu presented fans to the shogun during New Year's celebrations or that he represented a fan maker's guild. Just for the record, there are 11 fan merchants depicted in the folding screen (Version A).

The Sanjo-Nishi Kineda family (Photo 7)

We can also identify individual members of the Sanjo-Nishi family shown immediately to the left of the inner palace. Sanjo-Nishi Sanetaka, the author of "Sanetaka Koki" and a well-known intellectual, was still in good health at this time and as a good friend of Hosokawa Takakuni instructed Takakuni in waka (Japanese poetry). But because he had already retired by this time, the person shown here is Kineda, his son. The members of his family are the same as those noted in the genealogy "Sonpi Bunmyaku." The figure at the front gate watching the nightingale singing contest is Kineda, aged 39, and behind him are his first son Saneyo, aged 15, his second son Kanenari, daughter, aged six, and Kineda's wife and mother of his three children who was the daughter of Kanroji Motonaga.

Takakuni probably had this family painted because he was a friend of the family and also because he wanted to show that court nobles had been reinstated under his government.

Does this mean that Sanetaka is not depicted? It is the author's speculation that Sanetaka is to be found in the upper part of the sixth panel of the left screen which depicts a group of men near Rinsenji Temple on the banks of the Katsura River. (Photo 8) The scene shows a man dressed in a haori being offered sake while watching a celebratory dance. The man in the center with the beard resembles Sanetaka and the three men around him also tie in with members of Kineda's family mentioned above. Although there is probably a completely different explanation, the author would like to think it possible that Takakuni casually included this for Sanetaka who had celebrated his seventieth birthday the previous year. This portrayal of drinking iconography is carried on in Kano Eitoku's recently discovered work "Folding screen of amusement at famous sites around Kyoto" and in Kano Hideyori's "Folding screen of Maple Viewing at Takao."

二匹の龍の彫刻 本殿正面
Drinking beside Katsura River (sixth panel, left screen) Dog shooting (first panel, left screen)

Dog shooting and gardens

Although no figures of importance are portrayed, one of the distinctive images in Version A is that of dog shooting. (Photo 9) Takakuni attached importance to dog shooting, which was a form of archery, and here it takes the unusual form of two-handed shooting. We may assume that this depiction in Version A of two horses chasing a dog was to show how it was done. Although the riding ground was on the eastern bank of the Takano River, this scene is located near the shogunate. (Photo 1) The farewell poem that Takakuni is said to have sent to Sanjo-Nishi Sanetaka in 1531 before he committed suicide upon his defeat mentions dog chasing once again. This suggests Takakuni's strong obsession with the sport and that it was a memory he shared with Sanetaka. In the farewell poem that Takakuni sent the current shogun Yoshiharu he wrote that he would like to see the gardens that he built in the next world. The shogunate's garden depicted in Version A is naturally one of those gardens.

Folding screen boasts of achievements

The Rekihaku Version A folding screen with the Hosokawa clan's residence in the center and depicting scenes of a prosperous Kyoto below was commissioned by Hosokawa Takakuni to boast of his achievements. This tradition was continued by Kano Motonobu and his successors who painted those in power and scenes of the city they controlled. Of the early folding screens of scenes in and around Kyoto, the copy in the Tokyo National Museum was painted for Hosokawa Harumoto and the Uesugi screen was painted by Kano Eitoku for Ashikaga Yoshiteru. The folding screen of paintings of Azuchi painted by Eitoku for Nobunaga also represents a continuation of this tradition. The folding screen of paintings of Edo painted for Tokugawa Iemitsu can also be counted as part of this genealogy. Version A was the springboard for such folding screens.



・ 山本英男『日本の美術四八五 初期狩野派―正信・元信―』至文堂、二〇〇六年
・ 斉藤研一「描かれた暖簾、看板、そして井戸―初期洛中洛外図屏風の図像―」勝俣鎮夫編『中世人の生活世界』山川出版社、一九九六年
・ 鶴崎裕雄「管領細川高国の哀歌」『戦国期公家社会の諸様相』和泉書院、一九九二年
・ 『洛中洛外図屏風大観 町田家旧蔵本』小学館、一九八七年