Well-selected Collection



  • Lacquer Tray with Oriental Bittersweet and Mejiro Design in Maki-e
    Hara Yoyusai, maki-e; Sakai Hoitsu, design

    This lacquer tray, which would hold a scroll, is decorated in beautiful maki-e. The underdrawing for the design was painted by Sakai Hoitsu, a well-known artist and haiku poet, the son of a daimyo. The lacquer artist Hara Yoyusai produced the design in maki-e. The design decorating the rectangular tray consists of a branch of oriental bittersweet stretching from the lower left to the upper right of the tray, with two mejiro (Japanese white-eye) perched near the middle of the branch. Yoyusaifs work is exquisite, with coral used for the red bittersweet berries and gold and silver for the birdsf eyes and the tips of their feathers.
    We know from Hoitsufs underdrawing for the design, a letter, and the box for the tray, all of which have been handed down along with it, that this tray was commissioned by the Morikawa family, lumber dealers who were licensed as official merchants by the finance magistracy. Research has also revealed that this tray was designed to hold the two scrolls of Magnificent Views of Edo in the Four Seasons, by Kano Sosen (formerly owned by the Morikawa family; now in the Edo-Tokyo Museum collection). Moreover, the handscrolls and their box include inscriptions of various types contributed by well-known scholars, daimyo, and calligraphers, in testimony to the deep ties between them and the Morikawa merchant family that then owned these scrolls.
    This tray, born of close personal ties between daimyo, wealthy merchants, and leading painters, maki-e artists, and literati of the day is a beautiful crystallization of Edo culture.

  • Doll Festival Accessories with Maki-e Peony Crest and Pine Arabesque Motifs on Black Lacquer
    1856 or later

    This set of miniature accessories is decorated with a peony crest, which is the Konoe family crest, and pine arabesques. It is highly likely, given the crest and design, that they were part of the trousseau of Tenshoin, the wife of Iesada, the thirteenth Tokugawa shogun. It includes a full set of the major doll accessories, created with superb lacquer and metalworking technique. The pieces in the photograph include a hand-towel rack, bucket, wash basin, and basin with handles.
    Tenshoin was adopted by the Konoe family, a branch of the imperial family, from the Shimazu, rulers of the Satsuma domain, and married into the Tokugawa clan. The miniature accessories show traces of having originally carried the Shimazu crest (a circle with a cross), which was covered over and replaced by the Konoe peony crest. It thus appears their original owner was Ikukimi, the wife to Konoe Tadahiro, a member of the Shimazu family who married into the Konoe family. It is thought that they were refinished when Tenshoinfs marriage had been decided.
    The miniature Doll Festival accessories owned by Tenshoin, wife of the shogun, decorated the Taimenjo, a room for formal reception of visitors, in the O-oku, the Inner Quarters of Edo castle where the women associated with the shogun resided. The dolls and accessories were displayed on a tiered stand covered with red wool carpeting, with a golden folding screen behind the stand and a red and white curtain above. Several pairs of emperor and empress dolls were arranged on the uppermost tier for a splendid ornament indeed.

  • How to Make Pickles

    The merits of tsukemono, Japanese pickles, are their flavor, brought out through a combination of salt, soy sauce, rice bran, and miso (soybean paste), their convenience, since they can be stored for extended periods, and their good match with rice. This book, entitled How to Make Pickles, was published in 1836 and introduces the many types of pickles that flavored Edo-period meals.
    Of the sixty-four types of pickles included in this book, a fourth use daikon, giant Japanese radishes, notably in the pickles known as takuan. In Edo times, more varieties of daikon were available than today, and cooks came up with ways to pickle each type to make the most of its characteristics. And daikon were bred for easier pickling: the famous Nerima daikon, it is said, was improved to achieve a consistent thickness, to make the daikon fit more easily into the pickling barrel. Recipes for cucumbers and other cucurbits are the second most numerous in this book, which also introduces ways to pickle eggplant, burdock, Japanese pears, and persimmons.
    The author, Odawaraya Shujin, was a pickle wholesaler in Kojimachi (Chiyoda Ward). The preface states that each family has its own preferences in pickle flavors. While the book explains how each type of pickle is made, the content is not intended simply as practical recipes. The authorfs goal was a book that would broaden knowledge of pickles in all their great variety.
    The section on umeboshizuke, pickled ume plums, a Japanese favorite, explains that pickling the green ume plums and beefsteak plant leaves in salt will bring out their flavor-as in the basic recipe used today. When it comes to food, the wisdom of our forefathers lives on.

  • Guide to the Koganei Cherry Tree Route in Musashino
    1851 or later

    Koganei was said to offer the finest cherry blossoms in the Edo environs. The row of cherry trees planted along the Tamagawa aqueduct was about six kilometers long, stretching from todayfs Kodaira city to Musashino city.
    The idea of planting that row of cherry trees was the inspiration of Kawasaki Heiemon, who was responsible for developing the Musashino Shinden, a large area of land reclaimed for use as rice paddies. Heiemon is said to have obtained two thousand wild cherry trees and had them planted in Koganei in 1737. While they initially attracted few visitors, by the nineteenth century they were being introduced in various gazetteers and travel writings. Koganei became a place newly famous for its cherry blossoms, attracting crowds of visitors from the city of Edo.
    This artifact is a map produced to attract large numbers of cherry-blossom viewers to Koganei, apparently in 1851 or later. A large single sheet, printed in color, it is a brief tourist guide to Koganei and its cherry trees, showing the routes to the cherry trees and attractions in the surrounding area. It also includes epigraphs and haiku poems about the Koganei cherry trees.
    As the map shows, the visitor would start from Yotsuya Okido, a boundary gate on the western side of Edo, and proceed westward, visiting the Inokashira Pond and Benzaiten on the way. After enjoying the Koganei cherry blossoms, one could extend the experience by taking in the Okunitama Shrine, the site of the Kamakura-period Battle of Bubaigawara, and other local sights. After spending the night at the Fuchu post station, the visitor would return to Edo via the Koshu Kaido highway, the next day. It is probable that many people were attracted to make this short trip to see the cherry blossoms and tour notable places in the area.

  • Sketch of War Damage in Tokyo
    Oda Nobuhiro

    Near the end of World War II, in May, 1945, Tokyo was the target of an air raid on only the central Shitamachi district but the surrounding Yamanote area as well. As peaceful residential neighborhoods were turning in a flash into scorched earth, one man took up his paintbrush. His name was Oda Nobuhiro (1888-1964). A viscount, he was born into the family of the rulers of the former Kaibara domain, whose ancestor was the Sengoku general Oda Nobunaga. He graduated from the Western painting department of the Tokyo Fine Arts School (now Tokyo University of the Arts), then spent two more years there as a research student.
    On the day of the air raid, Nobuhirofs family was living temporarily in Ookayama (Meguro Ward); that house burned down in the May 24 air raid. Starting that day, Nobuhiro gathered up what he could find in the way of postcards and art materials and began sketching the ruins of Tokyo that he saw wherever he went. In about a year, he produced 159 sketches. On the reverse of each he specified the place depicted and added his comments.
    The work shown here is one of those sketches. It shows the Nihonbashi area on June 4, 1945. In depicting the changed appearance of a familiar area that he had often visited in his work, he made black and brown as the basic colors. Among them, in the center of the picture, the green of the kudzu leaves covering the walls of the Joto Elementary School glows. Nobuhiro had directed his gaze to the vitality of nature that survived in the ruins.

  • The Copper Mint Handscrolls

    Mizuno Tadakuni, the senior councillor to the shogun who is known for implementing the Tempo Reforms (1841-43), had a new coin, the Tempo tsuho, officially valued as equivalent to one hundred mon (the basic coin) minted in 1835, as part of his monetary reforms. At the time, the shogunate was facing a financial crisis, due in part to the extravagant lifestyle of the eleventh Tokugawa shogun, Ienari. To compensate for the shortage of coinage amidst rising commodity prices and for more efficiency in casting, Tadakuni proposed issuing a higher value coin, but the Tempo tsuho was not accepted as the shogunate officials had expected.
    In the Tokugawa period, the shogunate issued three types of coins: gold, silver, and copper. The main copper coin in circulation was the Kanfei tsuho, valued at one mon. In the early Edo period, the minting of copper coins was outsourced to leading merchants. In the late Edo period, however, minting copper coins was added to the duties of the gold and silver mints.
    These handscrolls depict the casting process for the Tempo tsuho, at the copper mint that Goto Kichigoro of the gold mint established at Hashiba, north of Asakusa, in 1862. We see the Sumida riverside, the mint as a whole, the craftsmen checking their clothes, casting the coins, the production of the tools they use, and, at the end, the loading dock where the finished Tempo tsuho are loaded on board ships. Here we see the molten copper being poured into the molds and the oval coins being removed from them.

  • Diagram of the Assigned Areas for Daimyo Contributions to Constructing the Stone Walls of Osaka Castle
    Edo Period

    Osaka Castle was built, during the Sengoku period, by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, on what had been the site of the Jodo Shinshu Osaka Honganji temple. At the the time, the castle, entirely reinforced with stone walls, was received with considerable amazement.
    The castle fell to the Tokugawa in the Siege of Osaka, and the Toyotomi clan perished. About five years later, the Tokugawa shogunate started rebuilding Osaka Castle. Daimyos from the northern and western regions of Japan were ordered to contribute to the construction; each was assigned a part of the castle to rebuild. The construction was carried out in three phases, from 1620 to 1629. The west, north, and east sides of the outer moat were built in phase one, the inner citadel in phase two, and the south side of the outer moat in phase three. In each of those phases, the areas they were responsible for building were divided up among the daimyo. This diagram indicates who is responsible for what area.
    Reconstructing Osaka Caste was unquestionably a huge project on which the Tokugawa shogunate wagered its prestige. In fact, it has been confirmed that it was not a matter of just restoring the older castle. The stone walls of the Toyotomi-period Osaka Castle have been discovered underground; they were covered with a large volume of earth and rock in building the Tokugawa-period Osaka Castle.
    Thus, the Tokugawa reconstruction of Osaka Castle proceeded by burying Toyotomi Hideyoshifs castle and building anew, with daimyo mobilized to take charge of assigned parts of the work. The new Osaka Castle thus functioned to demonstrate to all the authority of the new power in the land, the Tokugawa.

  • Gasoline Pump

    This gasoline pump stood behind a fuel supply store in Koenji, Suginami Ward, until 1989. It was designed so that the user set the gauge to the desired number of gallons and turned the valve, gasoline would be pumped up from an underground tank. The pump actually was in use for only a brief period. After the second Sino-Japanese War began, limits on the supply of gasoline to private individuals gradually grew stricter. In 1940, when this pump was installed, a ration coupon system was in place. When the United States and Britain embargoed petroleum exports to Japan the following year, use of gasoline for passenger cars was entirely prohibited.
    This pump avoided being collected in scrap metal drives during the war and also escaped damage in the air raids, since it was in an air-raid shelter. After the war, the family returned from being evacuated to the countryside and dug the pump out of the collapsed shelter, rewrote the gauge to measure liters, to use it for kerosene, which was then widely used in cooking stoves, and put it back to use. It broke down after two or three years, however, and was moved behind the store.
    That fuel store, a long-established one that originally opened for business on the Koshu Kaido highway, had to move when roads were being widened after the Kanto Earthquake in 1923. To replace its land, it was given a site in Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, instead. The owners turned that down, however, and moved their store to Koenji, where, thanks to their continuing to run their fuel business there, this gasoline pump survived.

  • Suijinroku
    Katsu Kaishu
    April, 1887

    As the political situation calmed down after the Meiji Restoration, Katsu Kaishu, a scholar and the shogunatefs Naval Commissioner, settled down in his residence in Akasaka Hikawa Shita (in Minato Ward, Tokyo) to begin compiling historical materials concerning the Tokugawa shogunate. This work, the Suijinroku is one of his achievements. The twenty volumes of the main part were published by the Ministry of Finance in 1887 and the continuation, in fifteen volumes, in 1890.
    Originally published under the title Keizai Zassan (Economic Miscellany), this work, as that title suggests, brings together basic data on the structure of the economy in the Tokugawa period and the economic and financial policies of the Tokugawa shogunate. It includes proclamations by the shogunate related to the economy, account books recording income and expenditures, the shogunatefs laws and ordinances concerning currency, and a list of types of currency.
    Suijinroku also includes, in addition to information on the economy, records concerning the number of designated neighborhoods in the city of Edo and their populations, records of the fires that occurred in the city, research on old maps of Edo, and the gYabure Mado no Kih, a report of damage suffered in the Ansei Earthquake.
    The gYabure Mado no Kih is notable for including the Ansei Earthquake experiences of a literary man who lived near Nihonbashi in Edo. He spent ten days after the earthquake walking through the Fukagawa, Honjo, Asakusa, Ueno, Kanda, and Koishikawa areas of the city trying to learn if his friends and relatives were safe and recorded what he saw and heard. The ripped and torn earth, the leaning buildings, smouldering fires, dead left as they were: it is a fascinating example of reportage immediately after an earthquake.

  • Receiving the Imperial Sake
    Utagawa Hiroshige III, artist

    Even after the Battle of Ueno brought the war between the supporters of the Tokugawa shogunate and those wanting to restore imperial rule to an end in 1868, the city of Edo was still in considerable confusion. Working to gain control of it, the new government turned the former city magistratesf offices into city courts. That July, Edo was renamed Tokyo (geastern capital,h paralleling Kyoto, also known as the gwestern capitalh). A transcription of the emperorfs words at that time gives, interestingly enough, the reading gTokeih instead of gTokyo.h In August, the compound of the Koriyama domain (ruled by the Yanagisawa clan) in what is now Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda Ward, was turned into the government offices for the new Tokyo Prefecture, and the city courts combined with it. That was the ancestor of todayfs Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
    In September, the era name was changed to Meiji. A month later, the Meiji Emperor progressed to Tokyo. Since many were still disturbed and anxious about the new government, the decision was made to bestow sake upon everyone in the city. An official notice was issued that neighborhood the town headmen would don formal kamishimo garb and present themselves at the new Tokyo government offices at about 4 a.m. to receive the sake. That event, called greceiving the imperial sake,h caused a festive excitement among Tokyo residents and was received with great joy, according to some accounts. While the order did bestow a welcome gift of sake, however, it also required many to skip two days of work to go collect it.
    In March of 1869, the emperor returned to Tokyo, which, from then on, has been the capital of Japan.

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