Signed: Keisai Eisen ga (渓斎英泉画)
Daimyō's processions - In an effort to maintain control over all of the various lords of Japanese fiefdoms, the Tokugawa shogunate required that each daimyō maintain a residence in Edo (the shogun's capital). Each daimyō had to leave important family members including wives and sons in Edo and make an extended visit every other year. This involved great effort and expense on the part of these local rulers and each tried to outdo their peers in pomp and regalia.
While the processions may have impressed other daimyōs and people along the route, they effectively disrupted the lords' ability to rule their own properties and upset their financial stability to such an extent that the central controls instituted by the Tokugawa regime were strengthened.
This particular example by Eisen is only one of many in which women were portrayed fancifully as replacements for a daimyō's true retinue of retainers. There are two other such examples of multi-panel groupings in the Lyon Collection (see related links above).