Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0117_American_horseman
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Kita Amerika-shūno uchi: Gasshūkoku mata wa kyōwa seiji shū

Title: On the North American Continent: The United States, or Republican Government
Artist: Yoshikazu (fl. ca. 1850-70)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: 34.8 x24 cm (13 11/16 x9 7/16 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The text reads: The north of this country is contiguous with England, the south reaches Mexico; the east and west face oceans. Originally, there were eight states, which subsequently became thirteen. Recently, the number has increased many times to more than thirty states. However, there is no king. In each state a wise person governs with the support of many people and, furthermore, no class distinctions are established. Although this place is but one part of the continent of America, because of its strength and great size, its abundance of people, its power, and also its prosperity, it is now popularly known as America, and its people as Americans. This region at the beginning was but a boundless vast plain, when in about the sixth year of the Manji era of our country [1663], English men were the first people to settle in the state of Carolina in the South and these people made a great country without peer. Admiration of the United States, not yet one hundred years old when this print was established, is apparent from the simple text. Although a few details such as America's contiguity with England and the date of the Carolina settlement are mistaken, the Japanese author clearly perceived the vast size of the country and its influential position in the world. The text also describes the American system of government, which contrasted markedly to the hierarchical class structure of Japanese society. The print illustrates a man on horseback wearing a curious mixture of civilian clothing and military epilets. A group of women and men stand in the background. By 1860, less than ten years after Commodore Perry's landing, Japan's first diplomatic mission to the United States had successfully crossed the Pacific to California, traveled to Washington, D.C., and other American cities, and returned to Japan. Their historic journey intensified Japanese interest in the United States, whose efforts to establish trade relations had altered fundamentally Japan's relations with the world. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0117

Keywords: Westerners, flags, animals, Americans, United States, "Five Nations," horseback riding

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