visualization project

“Osaka-zu Byobu” Digital Content

About the Osaka-zu byobu, the Japanese folding screen depicting the cityscape of Osaka during the Toyotomi period (owned by Schloss Eggenberg)

Osaka-zu Byobu

One of the research focuses of the Research Center for Cityscape and Cultural Heritage of Osaka has been the Osaka-zu byobu, a Japanese folding screen depicting Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Osaka Castle and the surrounding area, which is currently owned by Schloss Eggenber, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in Graz, Austria. Originally an eight-panel, standard folding screen, the Osaka-zu byobu has been disassembled into separate panels and embedded in the wall of the“Japanese Cabinet” at Schloss Eggenberg. The folding screen is known to have been in the possession of the Eggenbergs since no later than the late seventeenth century. It had received no special attention until Dr. Barbara Kaiser, Chief Curator of the Schloss Eggenberg Museum, set out to restore and investigate it from 2000 to 2004. The restoration work revealed that the screen was likely to be of Japanese origin. Dr. Kaiser contacted Dr. Franziska Ehmcke, researcher at University of Cologne, Germany, for further investigation. When Dr. Ehmcke was invited to Kansai University in 2006, she visited the Research Center for Naniwa/Osaka Cultural Heritage Studies, the predecessor of the Research Center for the Cityscape and Cultural Heritage of Osaka, with a picture of the folding screen at Schloss Eggenberg in her hand. After examination, the Center’s research staff confirmed that the screen shown in the picture was a rare folding screen depicting the Osaka Castle and the surrounding area during the Toyotomi era.

In 2007, a joint research project on Osaka-zu byobu was set up among Universalmuseum Joanneum (a state museum in Austria), Osaka Castle Museum, and Kansai University Naniwa/Osaka Cultural Heritage Studies Research Center. During the three-year collaborative research efforts, five international symposia were held, and because of the historic folding screen, a sister great-house partnership agreement was signed between Schloss Eggenberg and Osaka Castle in October, 2009.

The research is still ongoing under the Research Center for the Cityscape and Cultural Heritage of Osaka. It is our pleasure to announce that the Center has fulfilled one of its research goals in creating digital content of the Osaka-zu byobu. Viewers can learn about Schloss Eggenberg, where the folding screen is currently displayed, the Eggenberg family, who has passed down the screen from generation to generation, and different landmarks illustrated on the screen.

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