In 1674, Kano Tanshin succeeded his father, Tan'yu_, to become head of the famous and powerful Kano school in the metropolis of Edo, a school that long catered to the military rulers of Japan. The subject of this set of screens suggests that it may have been commissioned to convey a political message. According to ancient Chinese and Japanese beliefs, phoenixes only descend the heavens when earthly kingdoms are under just and compassionate leadership. There they raise their young in the boughs of paulownia trees, the nectar of which provides their nourishment. Thus, these screens would have served as more than just a beautiful backdrop in a palatial hall; they would have suggested that their owner was an admirable governor.