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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  • Noel

    I did a little research on the Nagasaki Hotel and I found a bunch of …

  • Kjeld Duits

    Oh that is cool, John. Do you have a scan that you can share?

  • John Rochon

    Greetings From Canada! I am delighted to have found your OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. I …

  • Bernd Lepach

    Hello, I read with interest your contribution on the Nagasaki Bund depicting the buildings of …

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Nagasaki 1900s • Buildings on the Bund

Hong Kong Shanghai Bank and Nagasaki Hotel on the Bund, Nagasaki

This postcard of around 19071 shows two important buildings on the Bund in Oura-Sagarimatsu. The large white building is the Nagasaki branch of the Hongkong Shanghai Bank, the brown building on the right is the Nagasaki Hotel. At that time, they were right on the edge of Nagasaki harbor and just a short walking distance away from Deshima (also: Dejima) island.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Company Limited, now known as HSBC, was established in Hong Kong in March 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and Europe. In 1866, it launched its first branch in Japan.2 The building on this photo was designed by Japanese architect Kikutaro Shimoda (1866-1931) and opened in 1905. It still stands and is the only remaining building designed by Shimoda.

The first floor of the three-story building features Chicago-style windows with repetitive curved arches and an arcade. Circular Corinthian columns embrace the second and third floor. The building is crowned with a pediment.

The bank closed its doors in 1931, and in 1940 the building was acquired by Nagasaki Prefecture. It was initially used as headquarters of the Nagasaki Police Department and was later converted into the Reference Library of History and Folk Art. The building once again changed functions when it re-opened as the Memorial Hall in October 1996. It is now a National Important Cultural Asset and the first floor displays the bank’s original interior, with historical floor displays and a tearoom on the other floors.3

Ads for the Hongkong Shanghai Bank and the Nagasaki Hotel
Ads for the Hongkong Shanghai Bank and the Nagasaki Hotel from the 1903 edition of A Handbook for Travellers in Japan by Basil Hall Chamberlain and W. B. Mason.

The Nagasaki Hotel was built in 1898 and considered to be one of the finest Western-style hotels in the Far East. The hotel did excellent business until visitors to Nagasaki were restricted during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. This apparently weakened the hotel so much that it wasn’t able to survive the economic depression of the early 1920’s. The doors closed forever in 1924, and soon after the building was pulled down.4

1914 Map of Oura Nagasaki
1914 (Taisho 3) Map of Nagasaki: 31. Kassui Girls’ School (活水学院); 32. American Consulate; 33. Japan Hotel; 34. Nagasaki Press; 35. British Consulate; 36. Belgian Consulate; 37. Spanish Consulate; 38. U.S. Army Supply Depot; 39. Nagasaki Club; 40. German Consulate; 41. Customs Inspection Office; 42. Hongkong Shanghai Bank; 43. Belle Vue Hotel; 44. Cliff House Hotel; 45. Agency, Russian E. Asiatic Steamship Co.; 46. Russian Consulate.5

1928 Map of Oura, Nagasaki
1928 (Showa 3) Map of Nagasaki: 1. Nagasaki Harbor; 2. Oura Bund; 3. Matsugaebashi on the Matsugaegawa (松ヶ枝川); 4. Customs Inspection Office; 5. Hongkong Shanghai Bank; 6. Oura Church (大浦天主堂). This map dates from 1928, at least 21 years after the photo above was taken and four years after the closing of the Nagasaki Hotel.


1 I have seen a version of this card with a postmark of July 1907, which determines that the photo must have been taken that year, in 1906, or possibly shortly after the opening of the Hongkong Shanghai Bank in 1905.

2 Wikipedia. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Retrieved on 2008-07-29.

3 長崎県観光情報システム。Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Building. Retrieved on 2008-07-29.

4 Nagasaki Foreign Settlement Research Group. Nagasaki Hotel. Retrieved on 2008-07-29.

5 (1914) An Official Guide to Eastern Asia: Vol. II South-Western Japan. The Imperial Government Railways, 41.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Ueda
Medium: Postcard
Image Number 70222-0026

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70222-0026 @ MeijiShowa.com.

Usage of this image requires a reproduction fee.
Reference for Citations

Duits, K. (2008, August 4). Nagasaki 1900s • Buildings on the Bund, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Jun 19 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/324/buildings-on-bund

Posted by • 2008-08-04
Add Comment

I read with interest your contribution on the Nagasaki Bund depicting the buildings of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank and the Nagasaki Hotel.
As for the latter building you also Show an advertisment with Bindo Bay as Manager. According to my present research B. Bay was proprietor of the Belle Vue Hotel.
Do you know what has happened to the Belle Vue Hotel? And maybe even to Mr. Bay? I have another item of 1904 in which a certain G. L. A. Smith is mentioned as Manager of the Nagasaki Hotel.
I was very grateful if you could clear up this Situation. Thank you in advance and
Kind Regards from Germany,

#000519 · Bernd Lepach · 2013-05-21

Greetings From Canada!

I am delighted to have found your OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. I was looking for an image of the Nagasaki Hotel in 1903, as I have a letter written from the hotel in 1903 on Nagasaki Hotel letterhead – B. Bay, Manager.

Many thanks for satisfying my curiosity,

John S. Rochon
Sarnia, ON Canada.

#000670 · John Rochon · 2019-11-18

Oh that is cool, John. Do you have a scan that you can share?

#000671 · Kjeld Duits (author) · 2019-11-18

I did a little research on the Nagasaki Hotel and I found a bunch of interesting facts:
1) The Nagasaki Hotel was established by Frederick Ringer and designed by a British architect Josiah Conder. Source: Holme, Ringer & Company, The Rise and Fall of a British Enterprise in Japan 1868-1940
2) The cutlery set from the Nagasaki Hotel had been produced by famed British silverware maker Mappin & Webb (purveyors to the British royal family since 1897). Source: The Little World of Yotsuba & Clan Blog
3) Electric instalation was provided by Western Light and Power Construction Company of San Francisco. Source: Commercial Japan in 1899: Area, Population, Production, Railways, Telegraphs, Transportation Routes, Foreign Commerce, and Commerce of the United States with Japan
4) A. Diessing was the hotel’s assistant manager. Source: Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other Treaty Ports of China
5) About the closing of the Nagasaki Hotel. Source: Nagasaki: The British Experience, 1854-1945
6) A postcard dated 1903 with a reproduction of a photograph of Nagasaki Hotel without the Shanghai Bank
7) Postcard front view of the Nagasaki Hotel
8) Luggage or trunk label from the Nagasaki Hotel when the manager was Albert E. Willsher.
9) Second luggage label
10) Nagasaki Hotel Business Flyer and Guide Business Card Ephemera
11) News about the re-opening of the Hotel in 1913:
THE Nagasaki Nichi-Nichi Shimbun came out with some cheery news the other day. Under the heading, “Re-opening of the Nagasaki Hotel.” it said:-“The above hotel, which has been closed for a long time, has been purchased by a Japanese who will reopen it. It is supposed that the verandah will be rebuilt and a thorough renovation made of the premises. A three-storied Japanese-style building will be erected on the adjoining ground and Visitors will be able to choose between Japanese and foreign accommodation. Two motor cars and a steam launch will be added to the equipment, being necessary in these days for the ideal hotel. An agreement for the transfer has been concluded between the purchaser and Mr. Buckland, the liquidator. The new proprietor, who is a rich man belonging to another Prefecture, was introduced by a Nagasaki friend closely connected with the Hotel.” Unfortunately, the Nagasaki Press is informed on excellent authority that Mr. Buckland knew nothing of the transaction recorded above until after the Nichi-Nichi had been published. He has not even been approached of late by a potential buyer. If the Nichi-Nichi’s informant will only produce the rich man and carry through the necessary business, says the Nagasaki Press, there is not the slightest reason why such a transaction should not be completed and prove mutually advantageous to the investor and Nagasaki, especially now that brighter days have dawned for the port and the trend of business, particulary in the hotel line, is on the up grade.
Source: The Japan Chronicle. No. 831-861

#000672 · Noel · 2019-11-20

Textile help

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