This pair of screens documents the visit of retired emperor Kokaku (1781-1840) and his courtiers to the upper garden of the Shugakuin Detached Palace (Shugakuin Rikyu) in the autumn of 1824. The visit probably celebrated the rebuilding in 1824 of several buildings which had burned down in the eighteenth century.
The Shugakuin was begun in the mid-seventeenth century by retired emperor Go-Mizunoo. It is located in the foothills of Mount Hiei on the northeastern outskirts of Kyoto and was conceived as a series of three gardens stepped down the hillside. The buildings are modest in size but refined in craftsmanship. Shown here on the left screen is the upper garden. A stream was diverted to create several waterfalls and to fill a large pond, called "Dragon's Bathing Pond", for boating. This is a naturalistic stroll garden with bridges connecting several picturesque islands and pathways leading to pleasure pavilions. Shugakuin is particularly noted for the technique of shakkei, in which views of distant hills are incorporated or borrowed as part of the scenery. Mount Hiei and the surrounding hills, for example, become part of the view as shown at the upper left of this screen.
The imperial procession is shown on the right screen. The figures are arranged in five horizontal registers, with the head of the procession at the upper left and the end at the lower right corner. The large imperial palanquin is readily visible at the center of the screen (corresponding to the center of the procession itself) in the middle register. The procession of courtiers consists of eight groups. Beginning from the head of the procession they have been identified as follows: 1. Tenjobito (highest ranking courtiers) 2. Other high officials including Dainagon, Chunagon, Sanmi and Sangi 3. Imperial palanquin 4. Various officials responsible for controlling the procession 5. Military officials (Hokumen) 6. Officials of the Chamberlains' Office (kurodo-dokoro) carrying boxes with medicine, musical instruments, eating utensils, clothing and the like 7. Kampaku, the highest government official (shown as a mounted rider) 8. Lower-ranking officials from the Chamberlains' Office (kurodo-dokoro).