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  • Tokugawa Ieyasu

    Tokugawa Ieyasu, victorious at the Battle of Sekigahara in Keicho 5 (1600), was granted the title Seii tai shogun (gbarbarian-subduing generalissimoh), or shogun, for short, by the emperor and established his bakufu or shogunate in Edo in Keicho 8 (1603). He further consolidated his power in Keicho 20 (1615) by defeating the remaining supporters of the Toyotomi clan in the summer siege of Osaka Castle. Ieyasu then died at the age of seventy-five in the fourth month of the following year, Genna 2 (1616). His deathbed statement was that he would be enshrined as Hasshu no chinju (the protective deity of the eight provinces, i.e., of Japan). The following year, the emperor designated him Tosho Daigongen, and he was then enshrined as that deity.
    During the Edo period, Toshogu shrines, shrines where Ieyasu is worshipped as Tosho Daigongen, were built throughout Japan, starting with the Nikko Toshogu. Portraits of Ieyasu as a god, of which this painting is one example, were also worshipped.
    Ieyasu is depicted, in the center of this painting, wearing sokutai, formal court garb, and seated on a raised platform, its tatami featuring a decorative cloth binding. He holds a shaku (a flat wooden baton) in his right hand and has a long sword, worn at the hip, on his left. Above his head, we see a bamboo blind and a curtain. In the foreground are balustrades and a pair of Chinese lion-dogs. This painting is the classic composition of a portrait of the defied Ieyasu.
    Because this painting, an unsophisticated portrayal, shows signs of changes or errors introduced during the copying process, it is thought to be a later work resulting from repeated copying. Such images were enshrined in many locations, not just in Toshogu shrines.
    (No. 85975327)

  • A Letter from Tokugawa Ieyasu
    Tokugawa Ieyasu
    April 4, 1595

    On March 28, 1595, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had been named Kampaku (Imperial Regent) in 1585 and, having achieved the military reunification of Japan, was its de facto ruler, called upon Tokugawa Ieyasufs residence in Kyoto. For the overlord to whom a daimyo owed allegiance to visit the daimyofs residence was an extraordinary event and a considerable honor for Ieyasu, the Toyotomi clanfs chief vassal.
    Ieyasu reported Hideyoshifs visit in the latter half of this letter, which was written to Toyotomi Hideyasu, addressed in the letter as Yamato Chunagon (Yamato for the location of his domain, chunagon a court rank). He was the adopted son of Toyotomi Hidenaga, Hideyoshifs younger brother. By birth, Hideyasu was the younger brother of Hideyoshifs nephew Hidetsugu. In 1591, when just thirteen years old, he became head of his branch of the family. During Hideyoshifs invasions of Korea in 1592, Hideyasu supported him in Nagoya, Hizen province (now Karatsu, Saga prefecture), from which Hideyoshi directed his forces. Those around him regarded Hideyasu as the future leader of the Toyotomi clan, as did Hideyoshi, who considered having him serve as Kampaku in Japan after the conquest of Korea and China. (That conquest did not come about; Hideyoshifs 1592 and 1597 invasions of Korea were unsuccessful.)
    When Ieyasu wrote this letter, however, Hideyasu was undergoing a hot-spring cure to recover from an illness. In the first half of his letter, Ieyasu expresses concern and hope for Hideyasufs recovery.
    In the Toyotomi regime, Ieyasu was a powerful figure, one of the Council of Five Elders that Hideyoshi would appoint on his deathbed to serve his five-year-old son, Hideyori, and rule the country until Hideyori was capable of doing so. (The others were Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Mori Terumoto.) After Hideyoshifs death in 1598, Ieyasufs stature was such that governing was entrusted him. Not all were pleased by that outcome, however. Almost all governments are, of course, beset by factional strife; in this case, Tokugawa Ieyasu was on one side and Ishida Mitsunari, Ukita Hideie, and Uesugi Kagekatsu, among others, on the other. Ieyasu would eliminate that opposition faction with his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, but the situation in what was becoming the Tokugawa regime was still not rock solid.
    When Ieyasu wrote this letter to Hideyasu in 1595, he was both rejoicing over the success of the formal visit by Hideyoshi and expressing sincere hopes for Hideyasufs recovery. Sadly, twelve days after Ieyasu wrote this letter, Hideyasu died. He was only seventeen.
    (No. 10200247)

  • Takashima Ohisa
    Kitagawa Utamaro
    ca. 1793

    Charm and tea are brimming over
    And neither grows cold!
    Let me not wake
    From this lucky first dream of the New Year
    At Takashimaya.

    This kyoka poem is written in the poem-paper-shaped cartouche in the upper left of this print. It describes the personality of Ohisa, a beautiful young woman serving tea in the Takashima tea and sweets shop.
    In this print by Utamaro, Ohisa is directing her sprightly gaze at someone, her lovely lips composed as though about to speak. She is wearing her hair in a Shimada chignon with lantern-like sides, a style worn by unmarried women. She was about seventeen when this print was created. How many Edoites visited the shop just to see her?
    Ohisa was the daughter of Takashima Chobei, a maker of senbei snacks who resided at Yagenbori Yonezawa-cho 2-chome, Ryogoku, in Edo (now roughly Higashi Nihonbashi 2-chome, Chuo Ward). She assisted at her familyfs tea and sweets shop, the Takashimaya. The triple oak-leaf crest on the fan she is holding was the Takashimaya seal. Since stating the name of a woman, other than a courtesan, in a polychrome print had been prohibited in 1793, the crest on her fan and the kyoka poem are included instead to indicate that this figure is Ohisa.
    In 1792 and 1793, several women were generating considerable discussion in Edo, and prints appeared rating the pretty girls serving at tea shops. Among them, Ohisa and Okita of the Naniwaya, which was located beside the Zuishinmon gate of Sensoji Temple, were the cityfs idols, sharing the top popularity rankings. With the geisha Tomimoto Toyohina of the Tamamuraya in the Yoshiwara (or, in some versions, Ohan of the Kikumoto, a tea house near the Shiba Shinmei Shrine), they constituted the gThree Beauties of the Kansei Era.h
    Kitagawa Utamaro also produced Naniwaya Okita, a print that forms a pair with this one. Utamarofs depictions of beautiful women, with subtly different renderings of their expressions, drawing out their individual personalities, were vastly popular.
    (No. 16200004)

  • Kumiage-e of the Third National Industrial Exhibition
    Utagawa Kunitoshi
    1890

    Kumiage-e, prints that could be cut out to build three-dimensional models, were a type of omocha-e, ukiyo-e designed as toys for children. They could be called the ancestral form of papercraft. Few, however, survive, since they were designed to be assembled, played with, and eventually discarded. This intact example is thus a rare artifact.
    In Buko Nenpyo (A chronology of Edo), Saito Gesshin, a scholar and writer active in the Edo and Meiji periods, states, gThe kirikumi (cut out and assemble) lantern pictures that children play with originated in the Kyoto area.h Toy versions of the lanterns used at Obon are thought to have been the first kumiage-e, whose birthplace thus was Kyoto. Other terms for these paper toys include tatebanko (diorama), kirikumi (cut out and assemble), and kumiage toro (put-together lanterns).
    To use a kumiage-e, the child would apply a lining to the washi paper on which the image was printed, cut out the pieces, apply glue, and assemble the models. This example consists of three sheets making up one set. The only instructions provided are a minimal explanation and a picture of the finished models squeezed in where space allowed. How to arrange the parts without wasting space on the limited surface of the sheets of paper was a true test of the designerfs skill. As this work by him suggests, kumiage-e were Utagawa Kunitoshifs forte.
    The Third National Industrial Exhibition, the subject of this kumiage-e, was one of a series whose fundamental purpose was the promotion of industry. The government, wanting to people to take these exhibitions seriously and not treat them as recreational extravaganzas, tried to remove all entertainment-like qualities from them. Given the exhibitionsf scale and the new products and technologies they were displaying, however, it must have been difficult to eliminate their attraction as spectacles. It was that character as a fascinating spectacle that lay behind the choice of this exhibition as subject for a childfs papercraft toy.
    Try to imagine what the finished model would look like and you may gain a sense of both how cleverly Kunitoshi composed the pieces, using the entire picture plane, and the fascinating atmosphere of the exhibition itself.
    (Nos. 88202855-88202857)

  • Announcement of Transfer of Business from Gomei Kaisha Mitsui Gofukuten to Mitsukoshi Gofukuten Co., Ltd.
    Issued by Gomei Kaisha Mitsui Gofukuten and Mitsukoshi Gofukuten Co., Ltd.
    1904


    In the Edo period, the Mitsui Echigoya dry-goods shops, which sold kimono fabrics, were so prosperous that they were included in depictions of famous places in Edo. Steep inflation in the closing years of the Tokugawa shogunate, followed by the collapse of the shogunate and its system of government, however, pushed the Mitsui Echigoya into a severe financial crisis.
    In 1872, Inoue Kaoru and other senior statesmen in the new Meiji government, wanting the Mitsui clan to concentrate on establishing a bank, advised it to separate the poorly performing dry-good shops from the Mitsui businesses. The Mitsui reluctantly complied. To divest itself of its dry-goods operations, long the family business, it established a new branch family, the Mitsukoshi, a name coined by combining mitsu (from Mitsui) and koshi (an alternative reading of the echi in Echigoya). The Mitsui then transferred its dry-goods business to the Mitsukoshi family.
    In 1886, Mitsukoshi added a Western-style clothing department to its shops, responding to the shift to Western dress by senior government officials. The following year, it was allowed to acquire the governmentfs Shinmachi Silk Spinning Mill in Gunma. Responding to new types of demand, it was reforming and upgrading its operations. In 1893, the Mitsukoshi family was permitted to resume the Mitsui surname, and the Mitsukoshi shops returned to the Mitsui family operations with the creation of the Gomei Kaisha Mitsui Gofukuten (a general partnership, a form of corporation no longer in use).
    In 1904, however, the Mitsui Gofukuten was a small operation compared with the Mitsui Bank, Mitsui Bussan (its trading company), and Mitsui Mining. In the process of reorganizing the Mitsui family enterprises, the dry-goods business was once again spun off. It was made independent as the Mitsukoshi Gofukuten Co., Ltd. The document shown here announces the transfer of the business from Mitsui to Mitsukoshi to customers, suppliers, and other trading partners.
    This announcement also promises improved operations for greater convenience for customers. The new entity was, in fact, committed to realizing a novel business format being used in the United States: the department store. The announcement has gone down in history as Japanfs first gDepartment Store Declaration.h
    (No. 89205569)

  • gImperial Hotel,h from a Pamphlet About Tokyo

    Of the many hotels that have been built in Japan, which stands out as an architectural masterpiece?
    gThe Imperial Hotelh would probably be most peoplefs reply to that question.
    That hotel was designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). This immortal masterpiece is Wrightfs legacy to Japan. When he received the commission from the hotelfs general manager, Hayashi Aisaku, Wright was at a low point in his career, having lost work through personal and professional difficulties. He poured himself into the new commission, designing everything from the furniture to the tableware, as well as the structure itself. The new Imperial Hotel opened on September 1, 1923, the day that the Great Kanto Earthquake struck.
    The hotelfs strongly horizontal quality, as though its roots stretched down deep into the earth, its innovative materials, including scratch tile and oyaishi stone, and its lavish decoration, inside and out: this work in an unfamiliar architectural style, suddenly appearing across from Hibiya Park, had an overwhelming impact on Japanfs architects. They produced many buildings emulating it, in what was called the gWright style.h
    Amidst the collapse of many buildings in Tokyo during the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Imperial Hotel survived with only slight damage, thanks to its innovative floating cantilever structure. Wright regained his reputation and went on to create other masterpieces, including Fallingwater (the Kaufmann residence, 1936) and the Guggenheim Museum (1959).
    Japan is the only country apart from the United States where Wrightfs designs have been built. The Imperial Hotel, which once stood in its capital, Tokyo, was dismantled in 1967 to be rebuilt as a much larger hotel. While the main lobby of the hotel was moved to the Meiji-mura Museum Village in Aichi prefecture, it is no longer possible to spend the night in Wrightfs magical spaces.
    (No. 89211229)

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