Scenes from The Tale of Genji: “The Royal Outing,” “Ukifune,” and “The Gatehouse”

Artist: Tosa Mitsuyoshi (Japanese, 1539–1613)

Period: Momoyama period (1573–1615)

Date: mid-16th–early 17th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Pair of four-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper

Dimensions: Image (each screen): 65 1/2 in. × 11 ft. 8 in. (166.4 × 355.6 cm)

Classification: Screens

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1955

Accession Number: 55.94.1, .2


These screens, originally mounted on sliding panels, were most likely part of a larger set that enclosed a room. In the central of the right screen, representing “The Royal Outing” chapter, princes and high courtiers approach in procession while falconers and huntsmen rush to hunt. In the scene at lower left, Prince Niou, Genji’s grandson, abducts the young Princess Ukifune in heavy snowfall. On the left screen, Prince Genji’s ox carriage and his former love Utsusemi’s carriage unexpectedly pass each other at Sekiya, the barrier-keepers gatehouse.

An inscription on the far left-hand panel attributes the work to Tosa Mitsuyoshi, primarily known for his delicate album-leaf paintings on classical themes. The inscription also identifies the panel as a replacement painted by Mitsuyoshi’s grandson, Tosa Mitsuoki (1617–1691).