Book: Yokohama & Kanagawa 100 Years Ago

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Book review of Yokohama & Kanagawa 100 Years Ago photo book. Hefty book showing handcolored, vintage picture postcards of Yokohama and Kanagawa from the late 19th century and early 20th century. 素晴らしい古絵葉書コレクション。殆ど街の風景で、残念ながらあまり人物のものはありません。

Yokohama & Kanagawa 100 Years Ago - 100年前の横浜・神奈川

Published: Dec. 13, 1999 Publisher: Yurindo ISBN: 4896601580 Price in Japan: ¥8,925 Qualities: Hard cover, color and B/W photos Size: A4, 350 pp. Language: Japanese and some English

Published to commemorate publisher Yurindo's 90th anniversary since its founding, this is a masterpiece book showing the old days of Yokohama and other major areas in Kanagawa Prefecture with 1,200 vintage postcards. If you are a history buff or if you live in Yokohama and want to know what the place looked like some 100 years ago, this book will give you a very good idea of what it was like.

Yokohama was one of Japan's cradles of photography, where photography was first introduced to Japan by foreigners after the port was opened to foreign trade. Among foreign tourists, hand-painted picture postcards and slides were in great demand as momentos to take or send home. A great number were published, but a great number were also lost in Japan due to natural disastors and the war. Museums and collectors in Japan have since sought to acquire Japanese postcards and photographs from the overseas descendants of Japan's early foreign tourists.

The book was compiled and edited by the Yokohama Archives of History, and the reproduced postcards were taken from the Archives' large collection (Neil Pedlar Collection) or borrowed from over twenty private collectors and institutions. Almost half the book is devoted to Yokohama-related postcards, and the remaining pages show postcards of Kawasaki, Yokosuka, Miura, Isogo/Hayama, Kamakura, Fujisawa, Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Oiso, Odawara, Hakone, Manazuru, Yugawara, Ashigara, Isehara, Atsugi, Tsukui, Sagamihara, and more.

The postcards only show landscape and street scenes. There are no portrait-type postcards (geisha, etc.) which would warrant a separate volume. Each postcard is captioned in Japanese, usually with the place name and date. Although there are no English captions, many of the postcards already have the place name in English printed on it. Many of the postcards are also hand-colored.

The text section at the back of the book provides a lot interesting historical information about Yokohama postcards. There is a list of all the known publishers of postcards. And did you know that the artists who hand-colored the postcards apparently worked at a pace of 500 postcards per day, or one card per minute in an 8-hour working day? The postcard printing technology of the time and how the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 almost wiped out Yokohama's postcard, photo studio, and printing industries are also explained. Fortunately, the postcard industry continued. The earthquake's aftermath and rebuilding of the city were photographed and published on postcards. They turned out to be a valuable historical record of the city. The book also comes with a poster-size maps of Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture in the early 20th century. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)