Yokohama, Kikuya Ichibei, ca. 1860s. Coloured woodblock print. 37x25 cm. Printed artist’s name stamp, names of the publisher and the block cutter, title in the upper right and lower left corners. Paper slightly age toned, otherwise a very good print.
A colourful print showing a scene in a geisha establishment in Yokohama, with a servant holding a match for the pipe of the client – an American sailor, who is sitting at a table served for tea with a young geisha at his feet.
‘‘Miyozaki Yukaku’’, Miyozaki’s red light district opened in November 1859 after a request by the Dutch ambassador to build brothels for the many single foreign men in Yokohama. There were 15 brothels in Miyozaki, and of these, Gankiro was the largest and most famous. Gankiro was divided into two sections, one for foreigners and one for Japanese customers and Japanese customers weren’t allowed into the foreigner section and vice-versa.
In his 1860 world tour journal, Richard Henry Dana jr. gave a contemporary description of Gankiro which to him ‘‘looked like a temple, it is so large and handsome, Within are parlors, reception rooms, dining rooms, a dancing hall, a theater, etc. The chief rooms were beautifully carved and elaborately painted’’ (Guth, Longfellow’s Tattoos, p. 17).