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Illustration of the [Emperor at the] National Diet Building

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Illustration of the [Emperor at the] National Diet Building

by Nobukazu Watanabe, 1890

Illustration of His Majesty the Commander-in-Chief's Triumphal Return to Reconstructed Diet Building


IHL Cat. #1174

About This Print

Nobukazu has depicted the Emperor's arrival at the First National Diet Building on November 29, 1890.  For another illustration of this scene, with a less realistically rendered diet building, see Illustration of [Emperor at] National Diet Building by Kojima Shōgetsu (active 1870–1900).  And for another print by Nobukazu picturing the second National Diet Building see Illustration of His Majesty the Commander-in-Chief's Triumphal Return to Reconstructed Diet Building.

Account of Emperor's November 29, 1890 Opening of Diet

Source: Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 441.

On November 29 the ceremonies of the long-awaited opening of the Diet took place.  That morning the emperor left the palace at 10:30 and proceeded toward the House of Peers.  He was accompanied by Prince Taruhito, Interior Minister Sanjo Sanetomi, Prime Minister Yamagata Aritomo, President of the Privy Council Oki Takato, and various high officials.  On reaching the Diet building, the emperor was met by other dignitaries.  The members of both Houses were already assembled for the ceremony, as were the ministers and other officers of the different foreign legations, officials personally appointed by the emperor, men decorated with first-class orders, and specially invited guests.  The emperor appeared in the Hall of Ceremonies, ushered in by the grand master of ceremonies.  Chamberlains bearing the sacred sword and jewel formed a line that was joined by princes of the blood and personal attendants of the emperor.  The emperor seated himself on the throne, whereupon all present bowed deeply.  The prime minister came forward to offer the text of the rescript, and the emperor read it aloud.

The rescript expressed the emperor's satisfaction with the progress toward establishing institutions of government during the twenty or so years since he ascended the throne.  He hoped that this progress would result in making known abroad the glory of the country and the loyalty and bravery of its people.  He was pleased that friendly relations had been secured with foreign countries and hoped that trade would be broadened and would raise the nation's level of prosperity.  He also hoped that relations with countries with which Japan had concluded treaties would be ever more cordial.

The Diet Building

Source: Meiji Revisited The Sites of Victorian Japan, Dallas Finn, Weather Hill, Inc. 1995, p. 99

[I]n order to have something ready for the Diet’s inaugural session after the summer elections in 1890, [the German architect] Adolph Stegmueller from Ende-Boeckmann designed a temporary building of gray-painted German clapboards in Kasumigaseki, on the spot where the Ministry of International Trade and Industry [now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry] stands today.

Quickly and cheaply built, the first Diet had a large chamber at either end, one for the representatives and another, with an imperial dais and throne, for the peers. Like the new palace, it had electric lights, reportedly the reason that on a windy night the following January, the Diet burned to the ground. The Imperial Household Ministry immediately turned off the electricity in the palace. The Germans were quick to point out the wiring had been American, and the Japanese, not they, had installed it.

A photo of the First Temporary Diet Building
Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport 

PowerPoint Presentation Notes from 1-31-2017 Presentation

 Illustration of the [Emperor at the] National Diet Building, 1890

On November 29, 1890 the ceremonies for the long-awaited opening of the 1st Imperial Diet took place. That morning the emperor left the palace at 10:30 and proceeded toward the House of Peers. He was accompanied by Prince Taruhito, Interior Minister Sanjo Sanetomi, Prime Minister Yamagata Aritomo, President of the Privy Council Oki Takato, and various high officials. On reaching the Diet building, the emperor was met by other dignitaries.

There are no cartouches calling out the personalities in this print, leaving the public to put names with the faces, perhaps mapping the faces to newspaper reports of the ceremonies.  



Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #1174
 Title or DescriptionIllustration of the National Diet Building [Meiji Emperor arriving at the first National Diet building]
國會議事堂圖 [国会議事堂之図] kokkai gijidō no zu
 Artist Watanabe Nobukazu (1872-1944)
 Signature Yōsai Nobukazu hitsu 楊斎延一 
 Seal none
 Publication Date 明治年廿? likely 1890 (date is partially obliterated, see image below)
 Publisher
Takekawa Unokichi 武川卯之吉 [Marks: pub. ref. 522; seal not shown]

 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - three separate full-size unbacked panels; minor soiling and rubbing
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous   
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 R: 14 5/8 x 9 3/4 in. (36.5 x 24.8 cm); C: 14 5/8 x 9 7/8 in. (36.5 x 25.1 cm);
 L: 14 3/8 x 9 3/16 in. (36.5 x 23.3 cm)
 H x W Image R: 14 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. (35.9 x 23.8 cm ); C: 14 1/8 x 9 7/16 in. (35.9  x 24 cm); 
 L: 14 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. (35.9 x 23.8 cm)
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