Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0162_AmericanPaddleWheel
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Amerikakoku jōkisha ōrai

Title: The Transit of an American Steam Locomotive
Artist: Yoshikazu (fl. ca. 1850-70)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: triptych: 37.1 x75.7 cm (14 9/16 x29 13/16 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The popular image the Japanese held of the United States in the early 1860s was that of a powerful and technologically advanced nation. The Japanese mission to the United States in 1860 provided a group of well-educated young men with a firsthand experience in the young Western country. Wood engravings depicting that mission in American periodicals provided Japanese artists with models for costumes and customs of Americans. Figures based on those illustrations were repeated in later prints of foreign subjects. The figures in the foreground of this print are also drawn from Western periodicals. The dominant image in the background purports to represent a steam locomotive, but its scale and some of its details, such as the large wheel on the right, make it clear that the artist has depicted instead a paddle-wheel steamboat. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0162

Keywords: train, United States, Westerners, flags, Americans, steamships

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