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Maiko at a Japanese Garden

Yokohama 1900s
Maiko at Japanese Garden

Artist Nobukuni Enami
Publisher Nobukuni Enami
Medium Glass Slide
Period Meiji
Location Yokohama
Image No. 161217-0039
Purchase Digital File
Author

Three maiko (apprentice geisha) posing next to a stone lantern at a Japanese garden.

Japanese photographer Nobukuni Enami photographed this lovely scene of three maiko in gorgeous kimono at Yokohama’s famed Nozawaya Garden.

This private garden was on the grounds of a villa (別荘庭園) in Nogeyama (野毛山) owned by the Mogi family (茂木家). This rich merchant family ran, amongst other businesses, the successful Nozawaya department store.

The company was launched in Yokohama in 1859 as a silk store, known as the Nozawaya Silk Store (野澤屋絹物店).1 It was located on No. 30 Benten-dori Nichome in Yokohama, for many decades the most important shopping street in the city.

Over the years, the family expanded into banking, real estate, general retail and other industries. The family was extremely successful, the silk business for example had stores in Yokohama, New York, Lyons, Paris and London.

Advertisement for Nozawaya, 1910
Advertisement for Nozawaya, 1910 (Mochizuki, Kotaro, 1910, Japan to-day; a souvenir of the Anglo-Japanese exhibition held in London 1910)

The garden, popularly known as the Nozawa or Nozawaya Garden (野沢庭園、野沢屋庭園) was opened to the public twice a year. People would line up to admire the plum blossom in spring and the chrysanthemums in autumn.

Maiko at a chrysanthemum exposition, ca. 1900s
Three Maiko admire a chrysanthemum exposition at the Nozawaya Garden, ca. 1900s.
Maiko at a chrysanthemum exposition, ca. 1900s
Three Maiko admire a chrysanthemum exposition at the Nozawaya Garden in Yokohama, ca. 1900s. Glass slide, Nobukuni Enami, 1900s.

In 1892 (Meiji 25), British horticulturist James Herbert Veitch (1868–1907) visited the garden. He described his impressions of the garden as part of a series of letters published in the British horticulture periodical The Gardeners’ Chronicle between March 1892 and December 1894:2

One of the best private gardens in or near Yokohama belongs to a great silk merchant, by name Nozawaya. This garden is only thrown open to the public twice a year, but I managed to get in, and was well repaid. It is a large place, full of little hills, little forests, a little river, very little summer-houses, little paths, all covered with mats, about 2 feet wide, which wind round the little hills, and by little bridges over the little river. The whole big garden is little, and most curious; one cannot help smiling in going round. In this garden are clumps of Cherries, on short stems; from a little hill you look down on them, whilst a few yards’ walk places you beneath them. A path with a Bamboo fence, 1 1/2 feet high, runs round the clump, and leads to another little hill, covered with Pines, 2 to 3 feet high. Clumps of an Abies, which on examination I took to be firma (bifida), are opposite some Bamboos; whilst Retinospora, and some really fine trees (some 50 to 60 feet high) of Cryptomeria japonica were well represented—the only thing large in the garden (for I was a foot higher than anyone in the place). Here I saw many clumps of the yellow-edged Bamboo, the only place in which I have seen it so far; it here possesses the same peculiar characteristic as with us. This garden was very curious, but I believe that of the Prince at Tokio is still more so. To see this I shall require the Ministers’ assistance.

Young Japanese women at a Japanese garden, 1900s
Young Japanese women admire yellow-edged bamboo at the Nozawaya Garden, ca. 1900s.

Sadly, the garden didn’t survive the Great Kanto Earthquake. Where once the garden was, now stands the Yokohama Municipal Nogeyama Zoo (野毛山動物園).

see current map

Notes

1 Wikipedia, 野澤屋. Retrieved on 2021-12-26.

2 Veitch, James H., The Gardeners’ chronicle : A Traveller’s Notes. Written March 28, 1892, published April 1, 1893. Retrieved on 2021-12-26. In 1896, the letters were privately printed as A Traveller’s Notes.

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Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Yokohama 1900s: Maiko at Japanese Garden, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on October 1, 2022 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/854/maiko-at-japanese-garden

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Comment

i clicked here to see if this was Sankeien. Too bad this was destroyed. You might consider Sankeien as a topic some time. My Saint Maur classmate’s family was the owner of Sankeien which was also connected to the silk industry. (wasn’t everything?) Beautiful. Went there many times as a child and even recently. It was not far from our house in Negishi/Yamate area

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(Author)

@glennis: Yes, I should do something about Sankeien. I only have one image of the garden right now. Will have to find a few more!

Cool, that your classmate’s family owned the garden.

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