Celebrated Geysha (Geisha) of Tokyo
Ogawa, K. (Kazumasa)|
Types of Japan, Celebrated Geysha of Tokyo in Collotype and From Photographic Negatives Taken by Him, Tokyo, K. Ogawa, Folio (11 3/4 x 16 in - 30 x 40.5 cm), ca 1892, decorated card covers, string ties, 12 black and white collotypes, each one from a posed (fully clothed) photograph of a famous Tokyo geisha. The book has been examined with two slightly different titles on the cover (see above). The first title does not give an address and it characterizes the plates as "In Collotype" The second title lists the address of No. 1, Iidamachi Shichome, Kojimachiku and characterizes the plates as "In Phototype." Phototype is another term for collotype.
This is one of Ogawa's most famous works. This book commemorates the opening of the Ryounkaku in Asakusa ("Asakusa Twelve Stories - Ju-ni-kai") which was the tallest building in Tokyo (Japan's first Western style skyscraper) at the time and a well know "amusement center" in Tokyo. The Ryounkaku was designed by the British engineer William K. Burton. It gained fame as an early Western style building in Meiji Tokyo. To see a woodblock illustration of the Ryounkaku published in the March 1891 issue of Fuzoku Gaho, click here. The building was damaged by the earthquake of 1894 and ultimately had to be destroyed because of damage from the earthquake of 1923. To see the Ryounkanku after the 1923 earthquake (only 9 stories standing), click here. To see a picture of the Ryounkaku before and after the earthquake of 1923, click here (from Earthquake Pictorial of Japan, 1st September 1923 found here).
The Ryounkaku opened in Meiji 23 (1890) and it is possible this book dates to that year. Unfortunately, there is no colophon. In July of 1891 an exhibition of 100 portraits of Geisha was held at the newly opened Ryounkaku. Ogawa produced albumen photographs for that event. Some, if not all, of the collotype portraits in this book were exhibited as colored albumen prints at this exhibition. Visitors at the exhibit voted on the most popular geisha. The winner of the vote was "O-Tama" from the Tamagawaya geisha house in Shinbashi.
Three other K. Ogawa books (perhaps more) were subsequently published on the topic of Geishas. Another book by the same title, Celebrated Geysha of Tokyo, ca 1895, contains 9 collotype plates with 105 portraits. Geishas of Osaka and Kyoto, ca 1895 contains collotype plates. Geisha of Tokyo, Hyaku Bijin - Japanese title: [Tokyo Hayaku Bijin] (One Hundred Beauties of Tokyo), 1902 contains collotype plates, probably most were two per page with the Geisha's name in English and Japanese. These later books were also produced in much less expensive half-tone (photo-engraved) versions.
For information on Kazumasa Ogawa, click here.
I believe that a K. Ogawa photograph (apparently not previously published) from this series was later used as a colored albumen photograph in the F. Brinkley 10 volume deluxe series, Japan Described and Illustrated. Notice the similarity between the Brinkley color albumen photograph titled "A Tokyo Beauty" (Volume III, "De Luxe" Edition) and a K. Ogawa's collotype from Celebrated Geysha of Tokyo published ca 1892.
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