BUNSAI MADAKI長崎土産, NAGASAKI MIYAGE, 1847

Artist: Bunsai Madaki

Title:  Nagasaki miyage 長崎土産 (Souvenirs of Nagasaki)

Date: ca. 1847

Medium: woodblock printed

Location: Kislak Center for Special Collections – Arthur Tress Collection. Box 52, Item 11. See link.

Publisher: Yamatoya Yūpei

Gift of Arthur Tress

Bunsai Madaki’s Nagasaki miyage (1847) presents images that suggest how much the Japanese had a kind of voyeuristic curiosity towards the “other”[1] during a period of limited contact with the European world. With 2 single-page and 14 double-page illustrations, the volume represents a wide variety of scenes in which both Chinese as well as Dutch people living in Nagasaki are show, but it also includes pictures of ships, animals and other foreign curiosities. The first illustration presents a map of Nagasaki bay, where we can see Chinese and Dutch ships as well as the contours of the Dutch trading post on the island of Deshima. Another impression of this title, held at Waseda University, includes text along with these illustrations; however, the volume shown here does not include this commentary. [2]

Special attention deserves to be given to the double-page illustrations representing both the “OLIFANT” (“Elephant”) and the “Holland vrouw” (“Dutch women”). Text on the same page tells us that the elephant on the left page was brought to Japan in 1810 by the “red hair people,” as the Dutch came to be called. The Dutch woman on the right page has been identified as Mimi de Villeneuve, the nineteen year-old wife of Carl Hubert de Villeneuve, a Dutch painter who came to Nagasaki in 1829 and taught the Japanese painter Kawahara Keiga in Western painting techniques. [3] Commentary highlights the “almost transparent skin,” “deep eyes” and “long nose” of the woman, seen as typical generic features of Dutch women at the time.[4] The portrait of Mimi exemplifies how much she, as a kind of “fetishized other,” appealed to the imagination of both the Japanese artist and viewers. Mimi never set foot on the island of Japan, since she was forced to leave Japan immediately, but her image endured in Japanese visual culture. Her contemporary, Titia Bergsma, became even better known.[5]

The artist Bunsai Madaki was closely related as one of its masters to the publishing house Yamatoya, and this firm flourished from the mid-eighteenth-century until the late-nineteenth-century in Nagasaki.[6] By combining the principles of Western art with Japanese printing techniques, Bunsai Madaki contributed to the development of Japanese woodblock printing in Nagasaki.

Another impression of this manuscript is in the Waseda University (Tokyo). Other volumes can be found in the National Library of Australia (Canberra), the Bristol Museum Galleries Archives (Bristol) and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Selected Readings

  • Charles R. Boxer, Jan Compagnie in Japan, 1600–1850: An Essay on the Cultural, Artistic and Scientific Influence Exercised by the Hollanders in Japan from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries (Springer, 2013).
  • Gary P. Leupp, Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 (A&C Black, 2003).
  • Michael L. Browne, “Portraits of Foreigners by Kawahara Keiga,” Ars Orientalis, Vol. 15 (1985), pp. 31-45.
  • Simon James Bytheway, “The Arrival of the ‘Modern’ West in Yokohama: Images of the Japanese Experience, 1859–1899” in Life in Treaty Port China and Japan, Donna Brunero and Stephanie Villalta Puig (eds.) (Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 247-267.

Posted by Hilda Groen

November 15, 2019

[1] Simon James Bytheway, “The Arrival of the “Modern” West in Yokohama: Images of the Japanese Experience, 1859–1899” in Life in Treaty Port China and Japan, Donna Brunero and Stephanie Villalta Puig (eds.) (Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 247-267.

[2] See http://archive.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/bunko08/bunko08_c0384/bunko08_c0384.pdf.

[3] Michael L. Browne, “Portraits of Foreigners by Kawahara Keiga”,” Ars Orientalis, Vol. 15 (1985), p. 34.

[4] Gary P. Leupp, Interracial intimacy in Japan: western men and Japanese women, 1543-1900 (A&C Black, 2003), pp. 114-115,

[5] Unlike Mimi, Titia would stay in Japan, however, after a few months she was forced to leave Japan and would never see her husband again. Despite, her relatively short stay would make a huge impression on the Japanese as she was represented on many Japanese art and souvenirs. For a study on Titia”s life see René Bersma, Titia, the First Western Woman in Japan (Leiden: Hotei, 2003).

[6] Charles R. Boxer, Jan Compagnie in Japan, 1600–1850: an essay on the cultural, artistic and scientific influence exercised by the Hollanders in Japan from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries (Springer, 2013) p. 93.