meiji japan

“Wife of Shimizu, governor of Kazusa” (1893), Yôshû Chikanobu (1838-1912)

Print from the series : “ Stories of famous Japanese women”

The lady is preventing the ox from falling off the mountain path, pulling it back to safety with all her strength as two men watch her in awe.

Kitamae-bune 北前船

Bateau marchand japonais “la route de nord” 

Navires impliqués dans la route qui passait de la baie d'ōsaka-wan 大阪湾, à travers la mer intérieure de Seto-naikai 瀬戸内海 et les détroits Kanmon-kaikyō 関門海峡 vers les ports de Hokuriku-chihō 北陸地方 “Terre du Nord” région de Hokuriku, sur la mer du Japon, Nihonkai 日本海, et plus tard à Hokkaidō 北海道.

Carte de la route empruntée.

illustration de navires dans une baie.

Kitamae-bune appelée Kojinmaru (1861). 

Exemple : le domaine de Kaga-han 加賀藩 ou kanazawa-han 金沢藩, vendait environ 70 000 koku 石 (1) de riz chaque année dans Ōsaka-shi 大阪市 et envoyait 100 koku par bateau à travers cette voie.

(1) koku 石 - unité de volume définissant une quantité de riz - 1石 = environ 180.39 litres pour 1 pers/an.

Kitamae-bune par Takahashi Hiroaki dit Shotei  高橋 弘明 (1871-1945).

“Lady Kido Suikoin” (1887), Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Formerly a Geisha under the name of Ikumatsu , Kido Suikoin became the mistress and later the wife of a samurai who supported the Meiji restauration. She spied for her husband and was also really knowledgeable regarding political matters. On this print, she is carrying two samurai swords and is maybe eavesdropping the conversation in the room behind her. 


Les plus belles œuvres des artisans japonais.

natsume 棗 - jujube (arbuste) ; boîte à thé en bois laqué ; Lacquered wooden tea box

Dating late Edo to Meiji Eras, 19th century. A beautiful makie lacquer tea jar, with a nashiji ground and mother of pearl low relief blossoms, with additional taka makie relief for branches and stems. Lacquer tea jars are used for dry powdered tea and are made in various sizes as one of numerous accoutrements in Japanese tea ceremony.


July 30th 1912: Emperor Meiji dies

On this day in 1912 the Emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji, died in Tokyo aged 59. He ascended to the throne on February 3rd 1867 upon the death of his father Emperor Kōmei. Meiji ruled for 45 years, and during this time Japan transformed dramatically. The year after he came to the throne the Tokugawa Shogunate, the samurai who had led Japan since around 1600, officially handed power back to the emperor, thus beginning the Meiji Restoration. The period that followed saw Japan undergo significant modernisation from a feudal, samurai system to a state that more mirrored its Western counterparts. This Westernisation was a popular movement that was personally championed by Meiji and included a new school system, dismantling of the feudal class system and adoption of the new Meiji Constitution. A growing impetus for change came as a result of the end of Japan’s sakoku policy of seclusion where the country was closed to foreigners. The policy ended in 1853 with the arrival of US Commodore Matthew Perry and the forcible opening of the country to trade with the West. The subsequent Westernisation policies of the Meiji Restoration were welcomed by many, but not by the former samurai; figures such as Saigō Takamori fought what they saw as the eradication of their way of life. As well as overseeing this Westernisation of Japan, Meiji was emperor during both the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95 and Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5. When Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and his son took over and became Emperor Taishō, he left Japan a very different country than it was when he first ascended to power.