Hashimoto Gyokuransai, artist’ name Utagawa Sadahide (1807-1878/79)

 

Gokaikõ Yokohama õezu: kan (Large illustration of the Opening of the Port of Yokohama: complete)

Signed Hashimoto Gyokuransai, Yokohama 1859

 

Colour woodblock print on eight sheets of paper, H. 69 cm x W. 160 cm

Born as Hashimoto Gyokuransai he is better known by his artist’s name of Utagawa Sadahide. He became one of the most accomplished students of Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865). He is a very well-known member of the Utagawa school and is famous for his Yokohama-e prints of Westerners and the Western enclave in Yokohama.

This bird’s eye view shows the Opening of the Port of Yokohama on the 2nd of June 1859, just one year after the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and Japan. This treaty ended Japan’s policy of national seclusion (sakoku) and stipulated that Japan should open five Treaty Ports to foreign commerce and settlement. Once a sleepy village with no more than ninety houses and 400 inhabitants, Yokohama, one of the five Treaty Ports, emerged as the most important due to its closeness to the capital city of Edo.

The map shows the entire area of Yokohama. At anchor in the harbour can naval ships of the United States, France, Russia, Britain and the Netherlands be seen, all the countries that signed Trade Treaties with Japan. The new foreign settlements, the Yokohama Bund where the firm Walsh, Hall & Co was one of the first, are located in the right section of Yokohama on the waterfront. Many shrines and temples are highlighted in the right part on
the mainland, and Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance in the upper right-hand corner. The entire new city was surrounded by water, harbour in front and canals at the sides and back, thus enabling the Bakufu, the Shogun government, to monitor the movements of people in and out, as they had done with the Dutch on Deshima island. The key in the lower-left edge indicates the colours used in the map, each colour representing different types of buildings or landscapes. White refers to shrines, pink to temples, blue was used for residences of foreigners, red refers to forest and villages and yellow to rivers. The artist’s vantage-point was near the town of Kanagawa on the opposite shore.

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