OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN, a photo blog of Japan in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods

Old Photos of Japan
shows photos of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s. In 1854, Japan opened its doors to the outside world for the first time in more than 200 years. It set in motion a truly astounding transformation. As fate would have it, photography had just been invented. As the old country vanished and a new one was born, daring photographers took photos. Discover what life was like with their rare and precious photographs of old Japan.
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Nagasaki 1880s • Foreign Settlement

View on Oura, Nagasaki

View from Minamiyamate on Nagasaki Harbor and the foreign settlement in Oura and Higashiyamate. The building with the veranda on the right is the Belle Vue Hotel, located where the ANA Hotel Nagasaki Gloverhill now stands. Opened in 1863, the Belle Vue Hotel was one of the first Western style hotels in Japan. It was mostly frequented by foreign guests.

The hotel was located on Minamiyamate No. 11A and built by Matthew Green, who was the constable to the British consulate. His wife Mary Elizabeth was the proprietor. Initially, the building was the temporary home of the British Consulate. By October 1863, Mary Elizabeth was running the hotel with the assistance of the Italian C.N. Mancini, who left the hotel in 1865 to work as a confectioner.

In 1867, only four years after the hotel’s establishment, N.B. Dennys describes the Belle Vue in The Treaty Ports of China and Japan as “a well conducted place much frequented by visitors; at its table d’hote dinner can be had for a dollar, while for visitors the cost of living per week, everything included, amounts to twenty-one dollars. It has a very fine view over the harbour and city.”

Until the Nagasaki Hotel was built on the Bund in 1898, the Belle Vue Hotel was the largest and most luxurious hotel in Nagasaki.

Belle Vue Hotel, Nagasaki
The entrance of the Belle Vue Hotel during the 1910s.

Mary Elizabeth would later move on to Yokohama and finally to Kobe, where her grave can still be found at the Kobe Foreign Cemetery. The Belle Vue Hotel was sold, as well as closed and re-opened several times. Surprisingly, former employee C.N. Mancini was one of the proprietors in the late 1870s.

In 1906, the hotel was bought by Japanese businessman K. Nishizaki, who ran the hotel until early 1920, when it was finally closed, symbolically closing the final curtains on the era of Nagasaki’s foreign settlement.1

This photograph shows a lot more of Nagasaki’s foreign settlement. The roadway along the harbor is the Oura Bund. The small Western-style buildings that were built here when the port was first opened have already been replaced in this photo by two-story buildings with verandas and Yosemune (寄せ棟) style hipped roofs, which slant down on four sides. Many consulates were located on the Bund, making it an important stretch of road.

The large single-story building protruding from the embankment is the customs house. Part of Deshima (also: Dejima) is visible beyond that.

The building on the hill in the far background of the Belle Vue Hotel is Russell Hall of Kwassui Gakuin (活水学院), established in 1876 by American Methodist missionaries Elizabeth Russell (1836-1927) and Jean Gheer. The building on this photo was officially opened in May 1882. The school played an important role in Nagasaki and remained open after the closing of the foreign settlement in 1899.2

1 Nagasaki Foreign Settlement Research Group. Minamiyamate Articles: Belle Vue Hotel. Retrieved on 2008-06-03.

2 Nagasaki Foreign Settlement Research Group. Higashiyamate Biographies: Elizabeth Russell. Retrieved on 2008-06-03.

Photographer: Nobukuni Enami
Publisher: Nobukuni Enami
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 70820-0006

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Posted by • 2008-06-03
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