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Scenic View of Tokyo, Ueno Park Tōshō-gū Shrine

Yamada Toshitada (1868-1934)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Scenic View of Tokyo, Ueno Park Tōshō-gū Shrine

by Yamada Toshitada, 1889

Yamada Toshitada (1868-1934)

IHL Cat. #2008

About This Print

It is spring and the cherry trees are in bloom as two women and a child all dressed in Western fashion are  strolling through Tokyo's Tōshō-gū Shrine. The shrine dedicated to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) and founded  in 1627, has been spared the many natural and man-caused disasters that have visited Tokyo and today remains largely unchanged from its renovation in 1651. The trio likely entered the grounds through Karamon gate, seen in the left panel. Five small figures, three priests and two groundskeepers, can also be seen. While the print is a "scenic view" of this Tokyo landmark, the real scenic view is the high-fashion Western dress of the women and child. 

Western dress for women of a certain class was kicked-off by the empress in 1886 when she "decided that a consort to a modern emperor needed to dress in the modern, i.e., Western mode," and went on to require Western dress at the court and at public events for her ladies-in-waiting, the imperial princesses, government employees (e.g. teachers) and the wives of officials.1

The empress's proclamation issued in January 1887 advising all women to adopt Western fashion became "no small burden" for the women effected as pointed out by Miriam Wattles of University of California, Santa Barbara.
1887-88, the years when Westernized fashion in Japan were at a height, were the pinnacle of fashion for the bustle. Thus, these ladies had to not only take on the weight of copious layers of fabric, but also distort their figures into the unnatural shape dictated by the bustle. Additionally, even though dresses could be ordered from both native and foreign dress designers in Tokyo, it was difficult to afford for many of the public servants required to wear them.2
While Western dress was still in fashion in 1889 when this print was produced, "by the 1890s, most women were again wearing kimono, reinventing as fashion does, the traditional styles of times past."3
1889 Tokyo fashion

1885 London fashion

As described in the web article "History of Fashion 1840-1900" on the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, "1880s women's dress featured tightly fitting bodices with very narrow sleeves and high necklines, often trimmed at the wrists with white frills or lace. At the beginning of the decade the emphasis was at the back of the skirt, featuring ruching, flouncing, and embellishments such as bows and thick, rich fabrics and trims. The middle of the decade saw a brief revival of the bustle, which was so exaggerated that the derriere protruded horizontally from the small of the back. By the end of the decade the bustle disappeared. Hair was worn in tight, close curls on the top of the head. Hats and caps were correspondingly small and neat, to fit on top of the hairstyle."4

Whether this print was commissioned by one of the Tokyo stores selling Western women's clothes or one of the sewing shops to advertise their expertise in creating Western garb is unknown.

1 "Gender, Citizenship and Dress in Modernizing Japan,"  Barbara Molony appearing in The Politics of Dress in Asia and the Americas, ed. Mina Roces and Louise Edwards, Sussex Academic Press, 2008, p. 90
2 University of British Columbia website https://meijiat150dtr.arts.ubc.ca/essays/wattles/
3 ibid.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2008
 Title Scenic View of Tokyo, Ueno Park Tōshō-gū Shrine
 東京名所上野公園地東照宮 Tōkyō meisho Ueno kōenchi Tōshō gū
 Artist Yamada Toshitada (1868-1934)
應需 南斎年忠 ōju Nansai Toshitada
 Seal unread seal (as shown above)
 Publication Date
February 1889
 明治ニ十ニニ月 日 出版 published: February 1889 (as shown below in publisher's seal)
 明治ニ十ニニ月四日 印刷 printing: February 4, 1889 (as shown below in publisher's seal)
Yokoyama Ryōhachi 橫山良八

印刷兼発行者 橫山良八 printer and publisher: Yokoyama Ryōhachi

[Marks: pub. ref. 623; seal not shown]

 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - three sheets joined; trimmed to image; soiling upper part of left and center sheets
 Genre ukiyo-e; meisho-e; kaika-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 13 9/16 x 28 in. (34.4 x 71.1 cm)
 Collections This Print

last update:
1/21/2020 created