1860 Sadahide Ukiyo-e View of Yokohama Miyozaki Pleasure Quarter

横浜港崎町大門橋真景 / [An Accurate View of the Miyozaki Great Gate and Bridge in Yokohama]. - Main View

1860 Sadahide Ukiyo-e View of Yokohama Miyozaki Pleasure Quarter


Yokohama's Yoshiwara.


横浜港崎町大門橋真景 / [An Accurate View of the Miyozaki Great Gate and Bridge in Yokohama].
  1860 (dated)     14.25 x 29.25 in (36.195 x 74.295 cm)


A scarce and intriguing ukiyo-e triptych of Yokohama, prepared in 1860 by Sadahide, the master of the Yokohama-e subgenre of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. It depicts a view from the Miyozaki pleasure quarter, one of the main sites of cultural contact and mutual curiosity between foreigners and Japanese in Yokohama.
A Closer Look
The view is oriented towards the northwest, looking out from the gate and bridge of Miyozaki towards Yoshida (吉田) and Nogecho (野毛), fast-growing areas that were then just villages but quickly became swallowed up by Yokohama and incorporated as neighborhoods. The hill in the background at left is Nogeyama, now a park which includes Yokohama's zoo. At right is the main Japanese-inhabited part of Yokohama. Along the road between the city and Miyozaki, peasants, laborers, and peddlers mingle, along with prostitutes and their potential clients. The city was growing so quickly at this time that by 1861, just the following year, another print by Sadahide (also sold by us) displays permanent shops built all along both sides of this road and development on the southern (left) side of the creek at right. In the background at right, foreign and Japanese ships can be seen in the waters of Yokohama's harbor.
Miyozaki (港崎遊廓) was Yokohama's red-light district, modeled on and managed by brothel-owners from Edo's infamous Yoshiwara. The district had been planned during discussions around the Harris Treaty (1858) and other, similar treaties with foreign powers that opened Yokohama to foreign trade. Located where today's Yokohama Park sits, it was separated from Yokohama proper by a moat and wall, with a bridge with a large gate on one end being the only way to enter or leave the district. It was foremost among the many curiosities in Yokohama in which consumers of Yokohama-e prints by Sadahide and others were interested. (Sadahide produced at least four prints between 1859 and 1861 featuring it.) Foreigners were equally curious about Miyozaki, for obvious reasons, though the more genteel among them typically regarded the area with disdain, at least publicly.

The teahouses and brothels catered primarily to foreign (Western and Chinese) clients, in large part to avoid the potential for scandals involving foreigners and Japanese women not engaged in prostitution (as had been done for many years in the Maruyama red light district in Nagasaki). While Yokohama maintained a laissez-faire ethos overall, Miyozaki was possibly the most strictly monitored and managed part of the entire city, as the Tokugawa were anxious to keep foreigners occupied and away from Japanese women not engaged in the sex trade. Certain establishments, especially the famous Gankirō (岩亀樓), aimed at more esteemed and wealthy clients, who could arrange for long-term mistresses, often depicted alongside foreigners in Yokohama-e prints.

As the city grew, the red-light district was relocated several times, beginning in 1867. Frequent fires and further urban sprawl led to further relocations, with it finally (in 1880) being placed in Magane, where it remained, with official sanction, until the Japanese government enacted an anti-prostitution law in 1958.
Yokohama - Japan's Gateway to the Outside World
Sadahide is most closely associated with Yokohama-e, a genre of nishiki-e which he largely defined, depicting foreigners and the cultural interactions between Japan and the outside world that took place in Yokohama. Although Japan had reluctantly signed a 'Treaty of Peace and Amity' with the United States in 1854, opening the door for greater foreign presence and influence in Japan, the terms were quite vague until a subsequent treaty, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (also known as the Harris Treaty), was signed in 1858, opening Japanese ports to foreign trade. Other foreign powers piled into Japan to sign similar treaties stipulating rights for their nationals to trade and reside in certain Japanese ports. The most important of these 'treaty ports' were Nagasaki and Yokohama, the former having been a major port for centuries, the latter much less so.

The foreign powers demanded a port near Edo (Tokyo), understanding that the capital itself was not an option. Yokohama was primarily chosen because the most obvious choice, Kanagawa-juku, a nearby coastal station on the Tōkaidō, was opposed by the Shogun. Much like Shanghai in China, Yokohama grew rapidly and became the main conduit for the exchange of people, goods, and ideas between Japan and the outside world.

Artists, Sadahide chief among them, rushed to depict the new visitors, who were regarded with both curiosity and revulsion, but in either case were an object of keen interest throughout Japan. Aside from Western traders, Chinese merchants and workers also resided in Yokohama, establishing an important Chinese community there, still the largest Chinatown in Japan.

As the city itself was a product of the treaty port system, Yokohama was quick to embrace foreign technology, and Japan's first major rail line was opened from Yokohama to Edo (by then renamed Tokyo) in 1872. Eventually, Yokohama would grow to swallow up Kanagawa-juku and other nearby towns, becoming the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan.
Nishiki-e (錦繪)
Nishiki-e (literally 'brocade picture', also known as Edo-e 江戸繪 because it developed in the Tokugawa capital of Edo) is a style of woodblock printing that developed in the 1760s and revolutionized the medium. Instead of producing a black and white print which was then hand-colored, or perhaps with one or two color blocks added, as had been done previously, nishiki-e prints allowed for the combination of many blocks, each adding one color to a complete image, which were fitted together perfectly. The result was that vibrantly-colored prints could be produced in greater numbers in far less time, allowing for popular distribution of woodblock prints, especially ukiyo-e prints. Nishiki-e remained the dominant mode of woodblock printing through Meiji era and was critical to the distribution of prints (such as Sadahide's) that carried depictions of new technologies and ideas throughout Japan in the mid-late 19th century. But by the Taisho era, lithographic machine printing had advanced to the point that woodblock prints could not compete, and the tradition continued as a niche art rather than a means of mass media.
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn by Utagawa Sadahide, engraved by Koizumi Kengorō, and published by Shōrindō in 1860. It is quite rare, only being noted among the holdings of Waseda University and National Museum of Japanese History.


Sadahide Hashimoto (橋本貞秀; ハシモト, サダヒデ; 1807 - 1878), also known as Gountei Sadahide (五雲亭貞秀) and Hashimoto Gyokuran (橋本玉蘭), was a Japanese artist active in Yokohama in the second half of the 19th century. He was born in Chiba Prefecture. Hashimoto is best known for his renderings of foreigners, in particular Western peoples and customs, as observed while living in the open port of Yokohama. He is considered to be a disciple of Takako Kunisada, another artist of the Toyokuni Utagawa school, earning him the name Utagawa Sadahide (歌川貞秀). Hashimoto met Kunisada in 1826, when he was 14 years old and most of his early work reflects the work of Kunisada. Even before the Bankumatsu period, Sadahide took an interest in distant and foreign lands, publishing an important and controversial account of the First Opium War between Britain and Qing China (Kaigai Shinwa, 海外新話) with the scholar Mineta Fūkō (嶺田楓江). Following the 'opening of Japan' in 1853, he produced a series of prints of Ainu people in Kita Ezo zusetsu (北蝦夷図説) as well as a world map that was likely based on a Dutch original (https://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/world-mineta-1853), also with Mineta. He developed an interest in geography and began issuing maps and bird's-eye views, some quite large over multiple panels, of Japanese cities. At the very end of the Tokugawa period, he moved to Nagasaki and was selected as part of a Japanese delegation to the International Exposition of 1867. Sadahide died about a decade later, living long enough to see the rapid transofrmation of Japan following the Meiji Restoration. He was a mentor to Hideki Utagawa. More by this mapmaker...

Koizumi Kengorō (小泉兼五郎; fl. c. 1860 - 1865), often simply as Koizumi Kane (小泉兼), was an engraver of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the late Edo and early Meiji periods. He collaborated with many of the great artists of the mid-late 19th century, including Kunisada, Sadahide, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. His older brother, Koizumi Minokichi, was also a prominent woodblock engraver. Learn More...

Fujioka Keijiro (藤岡屋慶次郎; fl. c. 1834 - 1881), often publishing as Shōeidō (松栄堂), Shōrindō (松林堂), of Fujikei (藤慶), was a publisher of the late Edo and early Meiji periods. Originally specializing in nishiki-e woodblock prints, including those by leading artists of the day, such as Hiroshige, Sadahide, and Utagawa Yoshitora, the firm later moved into book publishing, including textbooks for the Meiji-era Ministry of Education. Fujioka Keijiro's grandson took over management of the firm in the 1890s. In 1903, he founded Nippon Shoseki Co., Ltd. (日本書籍株式会社), a prominent book publisher of the late Meiji through early Showa eras. Learn More...




Davis, Ann Marie L., Imagining Prostitution in Modern Japan, 1850–1913, (Lexington Books, 2019) 56-57.