Edo period, 17th century Small six-panel screen, ink, colors, and gold on paper; depicting Matsushima bay with Shiogama Shrine at the upper left 37 3/4 x 105in (95.9 x 266.7cm)
With Amanohashidate and Miyajima, Matsushima is one of the Three Views of Japan (Nihon Sankei). This screen, showing the Shiogama inlet at the southeast end of Matsushima Bay, would originally have been paired with one showing the shoreline to the north, with views of Zuiganji temple, the Godaido worship hall (connected to the mainland by a bridge), and other pine-dotted islands for which the bay was famous.
Shiogama Shrine, perched on a hill at the upper left corner of the screen, is the likely destination for the daimyo procession shown at lower left. Bearers carrying a kago approach from one side of an inlet, as a line of retainers cross a plank bridge and snake through the streets of Shiogama village. One noteworthy detail is the appearance of matchlock rifles, carried by five soldiers in black and white jackets. Although rifles fell out of regular usage after the Tokugawa victory of 1615, they were still symbols of authority and status for the daimyo well into the 17th century. Matchlocks are shown, for example, in a screen featuring a procession of daimyo through a castle town in Suruga Province, dated to circa 1615-44 [Chiba Museum collection see Nikuhitsu ukiyo-e taikan (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994-97), vol. 10, color plate 7].
The soldiers in the Matsushima screen pass a row of stalls selling fresh fish and abalone -- an early precursor of the Shiogama fish market, still in existence today. Other genre details include parties of visitors at the shrine and other local attractions, picnickers on the mainland and two of the islands, and boats filled with sightseers and fisherman.
For a related pair of screens, see Takeda Tsuneo, Yamane Yuzo, Yoshikawa Chu, eds., Nihon byobue shusei (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1977-81), vol. 10, no. 84-85