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48 Famous Places of Edo: Nezu Shine Postcard by Utagawa Hiroshige II for Formosa Oolong Tea Marketing

Uploader: NIKKOPublication: 2016-08-08
Basic Information Category: Stamps & Postcards Subcategory: Postcards (Unused) Century: 20 CE Country of Origin: Japan Issuer: Hakubunkwan (博文館)
SpecificationLength: 14.1 cm Width: 9.1 cm
After the cession of Taiwan in 1895, a year after the first Sino-Japanese war, Japanese started to develop this newly acquired land. Export was one of the most important aspects for the local economic development, and the Japanese government landed their eyes on the high quality oolong tea produced in Taiwan. They decided to package Taiwanese oolong tea as a brand and introduce it to the western world. The Japanese government chose ukiyo-e paintings of the famous Edo period artists, including Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川 広重), Utagawa Kunisada (歌川豊国), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) and Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎), as the main theme, and started a series of marketing campaigns. The postcard was one of the products from the marketing campaign. The Japanese government was hoping that the brand and image of Formosa Oolong Tea could slowly spread into the US and Europe by the Japonism postcards.

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵), literally means “pictures of the floating world”, is a painting style that flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries; its subject often includes figures, historic scenes, folk tales, landscapes, erotica, flora and fauna. The artist of ukiyo-e on the card is Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826 –1869), born Suzuki Chinpei (鈴木鎮平), is a student of the original Japanese ukiyo-e master Utagawa Hiroshige. Please note that there are four different Utagawa Hiroshiges (I - IV), and people are often confused by their works because of the same signature name and similar style. After relocated to Yokohama, Hiroshige II changed his last name to Morita (森田) and started publishing his works under a new name Kisai Ryuushou (喜斎立祥). Because his works often appear on the labels of exported tea, people also call him the “Tea box Hiroshige” (茶箱広重).

The postcard was produced by Hakubunkwan (博文館). Founded in 1887, Hakubunkwan was amidst the wealth and military prosperity of the Meiji era. Hakubunkwan entered the publishing business by printing a nationalist magazine as well as expanding into advertising and paper manufacturing. It was one of Japan's largest publishing companies in the early 20th century. The business of Hakubunkwan declined in the 1930s and was reformed in 1950. It is currently known as Hakubunkan Shinsha (博文館新社).
Ownership InformationAcquisition Date: 2015-11-12
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