The Meiji at 150 Project commemorates the 150th anniversary of Japan’s 1868 Meiji Restoration. As part of the project, UBC Library digitized works from the Meiji period (1868-1912), including 21 woodblock prints, 1 hand-painted kimono book, over 41 photographs, a 7-volume book on the Ainu, and more. As part of the newly launched Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource (DTR), fifteen visual essays were curated for the project to pair with the digital collection, providing historical context and analysis for many items.

This digitization project is generously sponsored by the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver.

Here are some highlights from the collection and their corresponding essays:


Woodblock prints

These Japanese woodblock prints depict Meiji modernization, showing Western architecture in Japan. Naoko Kato, Japanese Language Librarian at UBC Asian Library and DTR co-editor, explores these prints by focusing on Japan’s self-depiction in her essay, “Reviewing Meiji via Japanese-Canadian Connections”. Her essay draws connections with how Canadians viewed Japan and with Japanese-Canadian perspectives, pulling from other digitized materials in Open Collections. Fellow co-editor Tristan R. Grunow, from UBC’s Department of History, analyzes how these woodblock prints support a particular narrative of Ginza Bricktown in his essay “Ginza Bricktown and the Myth of Meiji Modernization”, when in fact modernization was not a straight-forward project.

Ikkei. Kaiunbashi Kawaseza no zu, [1872].

Utagawa, Kuniteru. Tōkyō Asakusabashi kisen shijo rōshō jōkyō tsūkō rakueki kōka no zu, [1874?].

Utagawa, Kuniteru. Daiichi Daiku Kyōbashi yori Shinbashi made renga ishizukuri shōka hanjō kisen sōtaku seikei, [between 1870 and 1874].

 


Moyō no hon (模様之本, “pattern book”)

This book contains 21 hand-painted kimono designs. Ayako Yoshimura’s essay “A Glimpse of Meiji Kimono Fashion” provides context, including the history of pattern books and the symbols in common motifs. Here are some of the designs – you can explore the full book here.

Moyō no hon, [between 1875 and 1880].


John Cooper Robinson Photograph Collection

As part of the Meiji 150 project, UBC Library digitized selected photographs from the John Cooper Robinson fonds, in Rare Books & Special Collections. John Cooper Robinson was a missionary and photographer who spent time in Japan from 1888 to 1925, photographing Japanese life in the Meiji period.

Allen Hockley’s essay describes how John Cooper Robinson used commercial photography studios as part of his amateur photography practice. In “J. Cooper Robinson: A Canadian Missionary and Photographer in Japan, 1888-1925”, Benjamin Bryce (Robinson’s great-great-grandson) explores Robinson’s photographic motivations and themes.

[Robinson, John Cooper]. Yokohama pier, May 1918.

[Robinson, John Cooper]. Main Street Karuizawa, August 1917.

[Unknown]. J.C.R. with Hilda and Cuth[bert] on back, [1900?].


Nishiki-e (錦絵, “brocade pictures”)

In “Meiji Daughters: Their Stuff and Fancy in Brocade Pictures, 1870s-1880s”, Miriam Wattles explores women’s roles and labor early in the Meiji period. Below are some images from the collection explored in-depth in her essay:

Hiroshige III. Rikuchū no kuni yōsan no zu. 6, [1877].

Hashimoto, Chikanobu. Shōgaku shōka no ryakuzu, [1887?].

 


To learn more, check out the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource, which provides a great entry point to Japanese-related digital collections at UBC. Thanks to a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant awarded to the Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office, you can also view the essay collection as a digital book, Digital Meijis: Revisualizing Modern Japanese History at 150.

References

Essays

Our digital collections cover a wide range of topics and disciplines that you can explore through Open Collections. Among our thousands of digital items, you can find materials to support your research, your teaching, and even your imagination. Below, we’ve selected a few of our collections that may be helpful when researching topics related to Asian Studies.

 

Rikuchū no kuni yōsan no zu. 6

 

There are many collections that can be used as a resource for historical Asian Studies, including:

  • Chinese Rare Books Collection: this collection is mainly composed of works from the Puban and Pang Jingtang. You can find census information, literature, as well as historical, political, and military documents from China covering the years 1368 to 1959.
  • Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era: this is the world’s largest collection of maps and guidebooks of the Tokugawa Era. It contains travel maps, guides and stunning woodblock prints. The collection is used as a resource at the ASIA 453: Japanese Travel Literature class. If you are curious to know more, check out our blog post Explore Open Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.
  • Meiji at 150: the collection is part of the Meiji at 150 project, which was created to celebrate the 150 years since the start of the Meiji Era in Japan. The collection consists of materials produced during the period, including: woodblock prints, photographs, books, albums, and booklets. Visit the Meiji at 150 website to learn more about planned special events, lecture series, workshop series, podcast, and digital teaching resources.
  • One Hundred Poets: the collection consists of 74 books and 20 sets of cards of the Japanese poetry anthology “Hyakunin Isshu” (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each). This anthology, edited by Fujiwara no Teika, became the most famous poetry anthology in Japan. Get to know about this collection, more specifically about the card sets, by checking out our blog post Utagaruta: a poetry game.

 

Family wedding portrait, Vancouver, B.C.

 

If you are interested in studying Japanese and Chinese life in Canada, then the following collections will be helpful:

  • Chinese Canadian Stories: composed of several sub-collections and fonds, this collection covers a wide range of topics, including Chinese Canadian military service, businesses, and social life in Canada.
  • The Chung Collection: the collection contains materials that can be comprised into three themes: British Columbia History; Immigration and Settlement; and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The collection has several materials relating to the Chinese community in British Columbia.
  • Yip Sang Collection: the collection contains Yip Sang’s personal and business-related materials. Yip Sang was an important businessman in the Chinese community in Vancouver and was often referred to as the “major of Chinatown”. Get to know more about him and his collection in our blog post Explore Open Collections: Yip Sang Collection.
  • Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection: this collection contains materials that registered the life of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. The collection is a great resource for anyone researching about how Japanese Canadians were treated during the World War II.
  • Tairiku Nippo (Continental Daily News): this publication was an important information source for Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. It was published between 1907 and 1941, and is a valuable resource for studying the history of the Japanese Canadians before the World War II.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library

Info:

604.822.6375

Renewals: 

604.822.3115
604.822.2883
250.807.9107

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet