The screens, painted by a member of the influential Kano academy of painters, show two plum trees in winter; bare but for the a few unfolding new leaves and delicate white blossoms. Plum trees are a beloved theme in Japanese painting. They are among the very early bloomers. When it still is cold and snowy, the trees start to blossom, indicating that spring is not far away. Thus the plum blossom symbolizes endurance, perseverance, and rejuvenation.
At the foot of each tree grows bamboo, which represents endurance through flexibility in adversity. Together, bamboo and plum blossom form two of the 'three friends of winter', pine, bamboo and plum (sho-chiku-bai), plants associated with the ability to survive adversity and to embrace the revitalization that comes with the New Year and spring.