rakuchû rakugai zu byôbu (fuyubon)
Inside and outside of the capital “Kyoto” picture folding screen (This set is known as the: FUYU screens).

This set of Japanese late 19th century, MEIJI period (1868-1912), folding screens represents important and famous sites in Kyoto of that period. Rakuchkrakugai zu folding screens have been made since the 16th century, the first record of this kind of screen dates from 1506. Initially they were commissioned by the shoguns and contained political references, mainly to indicate who was in charge, but later were more popular as visual memories for the wealthier families in the Japanese society, with references to historical festivals and daily activities of people.

Rakuchkrakugai zu generally are painted on a gold screen, known as kinbyôbu, which were normally used for funerals and memorials. The golden hues associated with Buddhist temples and its paradisiacal aura. The golden clouds on the Rakuchkrakugai zu screens bring a specific association of paradise to this style of screens.

On a more mundane level the gold gives off a specific shine and atmosphere to the screens especially by lamplight and even more lifelike by candlelight, because of the moving flames and the shadows that they produce the screens really come to life.

Normally Kyoto is separated into 2 areas to be able to show the whole of the city. Initially it was separated into the north and the south, or the “Upper Capital” (Kamigyô) and the “Lower Capital” (Shimogyô). In the “Upper Capital” we found mainly courtiers, samurai and other city military elite. In the “Lower Capital” we found mainly merchants, artisans, sake brewers, pawnbrokers and moneylenders. The separation line between upper and lower was the Ichijô (first avenue).

Later the separation east and west was used, like in the FUYU screens.
The FUYU set of screens shows the east and west of Kyoto. Separated through the middle with as the separator Abura-kôji (north-south direction), in between Horikawa dori (street) and Karasuma dori (street). There is discussion on how to display these screens, generally sets of screens are placed next to one another (left-right with continuous or semicontinuous images), but it looks appropriate for these screens to be placed opposite one another. The person viewing the screens will feel like being in the middle of the city.

On the older versions of the screens generally labels with names (harifuda) or writing directly on the screens can be found to indicate all the important locations, but on this screen they are missing.

The FUYU screens are not completely unique, there exist at least one other set that is similar in its general set-up, but there are differences in the location of some buildings and colours that are used on the textiles of the human figures, so in a way they are unique..
We have tried to identify all the buildings and activities found on the screens and hope that we are correct in our findings. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.
RAKUCHÛ - inside the capital (Kyoto)
RAKUGAI - outside the capital (Kyoto)
ZU - picture or plan
BYÔBU - folding screen

The screens were made in the late 19th century (Meiji 1868-1912)
The screens measure each: 172cm high x 369cm wide fully extended.
A total of 1157 people inhabit both screens (right screen-east Kyoto 577, left-screen-west Kyoto 580).
A total of 3 imperial ox-carts with a total of 4 oxes, goshoguruma, are found.
A total of 3 palanquins, kago, are found.
A total of 3 Gion Matsuri high wheeled floats, Gion Matsuri Yama, are found.
A total of 1 portable shrine, mikoshi, is found.

Capitalscapes by Matthew Philip McKelway – ISBN 0-8248-2900-X
by Miyeko Murase – ISBN 0-87484-035-8
Sources on the internet: