Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0181_BlueBldg
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Yokohama ijinkan yori jōkisha tetsudō no zu

Title: Picture of the Steam Train from the Foreign Establishments of Yokohama
Artist: Hiroshige III (1842-1894)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: triptych: 36.6 x74.6 cm (14 7/8 x29 3/8 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Hiroshige III's print provides a credible view of Yokohama in the 1870s. Just visible through the space between two buildings in the foreign settlement of Yokohama is the steam locomotive that linked Tokyo and Yokohama. Overhead are telegraph lines, which were installed in those cities in 1869; telephones were first brought to Japan in 1877, one year after this print was published. The two-story buildings of Western merchants reflect the designs by Western architects who had first come to Japan in the 1860s; the tiled roofs, however, are Japanese in style. Selective adoption of changing fashions alongside the persistence of tradition is apparent in the dress of the Japanese men. They wear, for the most part, Japanese garments, although their hair is cut short in the mode of the West. A Japanese man in the foreground wears Western boots and trousers, together with a Japanese robe and jacket; another, dressed in kimono, carries a Western-style umbrella. Only the peasant with a bundle tied across his shoulders retains the traditional coiffure of the Edo period, that is, the hair worn long and tied in a knot with the top of the crown shaved. The most modern style of all is demonstrated by the Japanese man who appears in the room at the lower right wearing a Western vested suit as he makes a transaction with a Western merchant. The improved design of the rickshaw can be seen in the vehicles pulled along the street, which keep pace with the horse-drawn carriage bearing a Western couple. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0181

Keywords: Yokohama, Westerners, carriages, rickshaw, telegraph, animals, train, horseback riding

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