A Taste of Japan

Some examples of early Japanese postcards. Most here were produced in Japan but a few are European. Many of the early hand tinted or miniature woodblock examples can be considered as works of art in their own right, and though many copies might be made of each there may still be small variations. I claim no expertise in the early postcards of Japan and have very little skill or luck in tracing many of the artists and publishers of the cards shown here due to the difficulty of deciphering the script, if any is even given. If anyone can provide further information regarding any of them this would be very gratefully received.


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Woodblock Printed Japanese Postcard on Handmade Paper, c.1900s

A beautiful woodblock printed postcard on handmade paper showing a stylised scene of a tea ceremony. Artist not stated. Publisher not stated. The back of the card contains possibly relevant notes in Cyrillic script.


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Japanese Bronze Temple with a Pair of Phoenixes, 1928

Printed Arts Nouveau and Deco inspired embossed colour, bronze and silver postcard showing a gorgeous illustration of a bronze temple with a pair of stylised phoenixes above, probably produced for the ascension of Emperor Hirohito. Published by Seikaido, Tokyo, not numbered. Postally unused, but with First Day of Issue commemorative Tokyo cancellation for 31.11.10 on a purple 3 sen Enthronement of Emperor Hirohito stamp, 10 November 1928.


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Machida Kyokukō - Year of the Rooster, c.1920s

A fine woodblock printed postcard showing an illustration by Machida Kyokukō (町田曲江) representing the New Year for the Year of the Rooster in either 1921 or 1933. Published by Shoseido, Tokyo, not numbered.


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Matsumoto Shisui - A Hot Spring View in Early Summer, Jozankei, Hokkaido, c.1910

A woodblock printed postcard showing an illustration of the Josankei Hot Springs near Sapporo on Hokkaido by Matsumoto Shisui.


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Utagawa Hiroshige - Meibutsu Chamise, Mariko, c.1910

A hand tinted postcard showing an illustration by Utagawa Hiroshige of the famous tea shop at Mariko, from The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō series.


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Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko, c.1910

A beautiful woodblock printed postcard on textured multi-level relief paper showing an illustration of Shinkyo Bridge at Nikko.


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Shotei Hokuju - A True View of the Monkey Bridge in the Province of Kai, c.1920

A woodblock printed postcard showing an illustration by Shotei Hokuju of the Monkey Bridge in the Province of Kai, so named because the original rickety, plank structure was so precarious that only an agile monkey could cross it.


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The Samurai, c.1905-10

A woodblock printed postcard showing an illustration of two samurai on horseback.


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The Rose, c.1905-10

A hand painted or woodblock printed postcard showing an illustration of a rose.


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Shiyokubutsu - Plants and Seaweed, c.1910

art postcard created from real dried seaweed and possibly other plants on a linen-type postcard. Publisher not translated, not numbered, not postally used.


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The Soldiers, c.1910s

A printed colour postcard showing an illustration of two soldiers giving their horses some water while the occupant of a small cabin waves a flag to show their allegiance.


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The Bird in the Blossom Tree, c.1910

A hand-painted unsigned watercolour postcard showing a nice illustration of a bird sitting in a tree full of blossom.


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Advert - Kanemaru Gun Shop, Yokohama, 1904

A printed colour postcard showing a hunter with dog shooting at pheasants near Fuji, wishing the recipient a Happy New Year and advertising the Kanemaru Gun Shop in Yokohama, Japan. Postally used on 37-1-7 Meiji or 7 January 1904 from Yokohama.


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Three Geisha Girls, Yokohama, Japan, c.1905-10 - Uyeda

Printed hand-tinted postcard showing three young geisha girls standing in an ornamental garden. Published by Uyeda Co of Yokohama, not numbered.


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Four Geisha Girls, Yokohama, Japan, c.1905-10 - Uyeda

Printed hand-tinted postcard showing four young geisha girls standing in an ornamental garden. Published by Uyeda Co of Yokohama, not numbered.


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Four Geisha Girls, Yokohama, Japan, c.1905-10 - Uyeda

Printed hand-tinted postcard showing four young geisha girls standing in an ornamental garden. Published by Uyeda Co of Yokohama, not numbered.


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Two Geisha Girls, Yokohama, Japan, c.1905-10 - Uyeda

Printed hand-tinted postcard showing two young geisha girls seated on the veranda of a small dwelling in an ornamental garden. Published by Uyeda Co of Yokohama, not numbered.


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Two Geishas at the Seaside, 1902 - Raphael Tuck

Printed colour postcard on real cloth showing a view of two geishas conversing by the sea shore, with paper flap to top right for a hidden message. The card was published in 1902 by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Real Japanese Post Card, Connoisseur Series, not numbered. This one was postally used on 10th June 1904 from London and sent to Pimlico.


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Samurai Standing Between Two Seated Geishas, 1902 - Raphael Tuck

Printed colour postcard on real cloth showing a view of a samurai standing between two seated geishas, with paper flap to top right for a hidden message. The card was published in 1902 by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Real Japanese Post Card, Connoisseur Series, not numbered. This one was also postally used on 10th June 1904 from London and sent to Pimlico.