Famous Places of Tokyo, First National Bank

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Famous Place of Tokyo, First National Bank 

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1875

IHL Cat. #994

About This Print


The artist designed at least nine prints (six of which are shown below) commemorating the Japan First National Bank built in 1872 (Meiji 5), one of the first pseudo-Western style buildings erected in Japan. This print is from one of many different print series created by the artist titled Tokyo meisho (Famous Places of Tokyo.)  (See this collection's print Tokyo meisho, Shimbashi Stenshon, IHL Cat. #352, for another print in this series.)  This particular Tokyo meisho series is distinguished by its Western-style red and yellow frame, an artistic device for highlighting the modernity of the subject.  This print falls under the genre kaika-e (pictures of modernization), more fully discussed below.

This particular series of prints is a low-budget production, with little care paid to registration and detail. 

 The green cartouche to the left of the bank building contains the building's dimensions as follows:

高サ十二丈余. Takasa [height] 12 jō amari ("more than 12-jō high")
間口十五間 Manguchi [frontage] 15 ken ("frontage of 15-ken")
奥行廾八間余 Okuyuki [depth] 28 ken amari ("more than 28-ken deep")

Note:
jō = about 3 meters
ken = about 1.8 meters


A Few of Hiroshige III's Many Prints of First National Bank

Famous Places of Tokyo, Edobashi Post Office
September 1874

東京名所之内江戸ばし郵便局
明治7年9月
請求番号:ⅡBfカイ1/43
Bank of Japan Currency Museum

Famous Places of Tokyo, Picture of First National Bank and Nihonbashi
January 1879
東京名所之内海運橋第一国立銀行
明治12年1月
請求番号:ⅡBfカイ1/29
Bank of Japan Currency Museum

  Famous Places of Tokyo, Picture of First National Bank and Nihonbashi
early-mid Meiji
東京名所之内海運橋第一国立銀行,
明治初期~中期
請求番号:ⅡBfカイ1/26
Bank of Japan Currency Museum


Famous Places of Tokyo, First National
Bank and Nihonbashi
August 1876

東京名所海運橋第一国立銀行,
明治9年8月
請求番号:ⅡBfカイ1/27
Bank of Japan Currency Museum

 
 

Famous Places of Tokyo, Nihonbashi Dori,
First National Bank
[early-mid Meiji]
東京名所図会 海運橋通り
第一国立銀行
Postal Museum of Japan


Famous Places of Tokyo, Picture of
First National Bank

early-mid Meiji

東京名所図会第一国立銀行
明治初期~中期
請求番号:ⅡBfカイ1/28
Bank of Japan Currency Museum


First National Bank - Built 1872
  Source: Meiji Revisited The Sites of Victorian Japan, Dallas Finn, Weather Hill, Inc. 1995, p. 16-17.
Early Meiji buildings...were often a strange mixture of East and West.  At first, government offices made use of former daimyo mansions in Tokyo (all lords had been required to reside part-time in Edo) but as these gradually disappeared, their departure hastened by the careless use of imported coal stoves, they were replaced by Western-style buildings.  Actually, Tokyo's earliest Western structures were not government buildings at all but private ones inspired by the treaty ports, where carpenters and contractors had flocked for work during the hard times of early Meiji.
The two most famous examples, the Mistui Bank (see IHL Cat. #342) and the First National Bank (confusingly, the First National Bank building belonged to Mitsui originally), combined traditional features from Japanese temples and castles with new treaty-port motifs like French windows, balconies and classic columns.  Shimizu Kisuke [1850-1881], who built both buildings, capped the Mitsui Bank dramatically with an enormous bronze dolphin.  Promptly, the pioneer capitalist Shibusawa Eiichi [1840-1931] opened business in the First National Bank building.  By the 1890s, however, these exuberant, naive buildings became a public embarrassment and were torn down.

PowerPoint Presentation Notes from 1-31-2017 Presentation

Famous Places of Tokyo, First National Bank, 1875

The Japan First National Bank built in 1872 was one of the first pseudo-Western style buildings erected in Japan. The green cartouche to the left of the bank building contains the building's dimensions: Height "more than 12-jō high" [about 120 feet]; Frontage "15-ken" [about 89 feet); Depth "more than 28-ken deep" [about 167 feet]

Prints depicting famous or scenic views, meisho-e, had a long history in woodblock prints. With the advent of the Restoration came new meisho-e depicting the new buildings, inventions and factories in a rapidly industrializing Japan. In these two prints we see the First National Bank an early pseudo-Western-style building erected in 1872. The cartouche contains the buildings vitals – height of 120 feet, frontage of 89 feet and depth of 167 feet. The bottom print commemorates the opening of the first train service connecting Yokohama and Tokyo.

Note the Western-style picture frame surrounding these prints.



Print Details
 IHL Catalog
 #994
 Title or Description  Famous Places of Tokyo, First National Bank
 Tokyo meisho Dai-ichi Kokuritsu Ginkō  東京名所 第一 国立銀行
 Artist  Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
 Signature
Hiroshige ga 
広重 画
 Seal  no artist's seal
 Publication Date  1875 (Meiji 8), [no date appears on this print, but IHL Cat. #352 from this series carries a date seal of August 1875]
 Publisher
Matsui Eikichi; seal reading 八町堀 (Hatchōbori) 松栄 (Matsue) [Marks: seal no. 24-051; pub. ref. 307]
 Carver  
 Impression  good (typical mis-registration associated with this series of inexpensive sloppily produced prints)
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Genre  kaika-e
 Miscellaneous    
 Format  oban
 H x W Paper 
 9 1/4 x 13 1/2 in. (232.5 x 34.3 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 5/8 x 13 1/4 in. (21.9 x 34.7 cm)
 Literature 

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