Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0090_Waterfront
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Yokohama kaigan Nakadōri shōkan han'ei no zu

Title: Picture of the Prosperity of Mercantile Establishments along Nakadōri on the Yokohama Waterfront
Artist: Kuniteru II (1830-1874)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: triptych: 37.2 x76.3 cm (14 5/8 x30 1/16 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Sir Ernest Satow (1843-1929) recalled that upon his arrival in Yokohama in 1862: Streets were laid out with but little thought of the general convenience, and slight provision for the future. The day of wheeled carriages had not dawned upon Japan. It was sufficient if space were left for handcarts, and the most important Japanese commercial town of the future was thus condemned in perpetuity to inconveniences of traffic, the likes of which can best be appreciated by those who knew the central parts of business London fifty years ago, or the successive capitals of the Italian kingdom when they were raised to that rank. A disastrous fire on 16 November 1866 consumed one-third of the Japanese section of Yokohama and one-fourth of its foreign settlement, including Satow's residence and his precious library of books collected in China. In the aftermath of the fire Yokohama was rebuilt, however, and the city that emerged from the ashes was clearly more comfortable and orderly. This print of 1870 depicts the mercantile establishments along the Nakadōri, a broad avenue that was among the civic improvements following the great fire. The inconveniences Satow noted have disappeared, together with the flimsy wood palisades that had been erected around the early foreign compounds. Stone walls enclose substantial, two-story buildings, streetlamps stand along the wall, and carriages carry passengers toward the gate. Japanese and foreign men, women, and children mingle in the busy scene in the foreground while the wealthy foreign merchants look out from the windows and porches of their large buildings. Kuniteru's print represents Yokohama in a much-improved state just over ten years past its opening. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0090

Keywords: Yokohama, Westerners, carriages, animals, rickshaw, flags, foreign settlement, horseback riding

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