The battle of the River Uji is a famous battle that occurred just outside Kyoto, Japan, in 1182. Two rival warriors, Kajiwara Kagesuye and Sasaki Takatsuna, raced to see who would be the first to cross the River Uji and meet the enemy. Sasaki won by tricking his competitor. A few yards behind as they approached the river, he called to Kajiwara, “Your saddle girth is loose! Don’t fall and be the laughing stock of the enemy.” Kajiwara, seen on the left, looks down just before Sasaki dashes into the water triumphantly.
Isabella purchased this screen from Japanese art dealer Bunkio Matsuki at Copley Hall in Boston in 1902 when she was first installing the museum’s galleries.