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160301-0036 - Geisha with Violin, 1910s

1910s
Geisha Postcards

Artist Nagashima Banshudo Studio
Publisher Nagashima Banshudo Studio
Medium Postcard
Period Taisho
Location Studio
Image No. 160301-0036
Purchase Digital FilePrint
Author

During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), the Japanese government sent postcards of beautiful Japanese women, bijin ehagaki (美人絵葉書), to soldiers to motivate them. Publishers continued to print them well into the 1920s. Here’s some eye candy.

The models of these bijin ehagaki were generally geisha. Even the women modeling swimming suits. Some of the era’s most celebrated geisha posed for bijin ehagaki. Fans would line up when new cards of an especially popular geisha were published.

Although ukiyoe had celebrated actors and the prostitutes of Yoshiwara, this was the birth of the modern manifestation of the gravure idol (グラビアアイドル) phenomenon. Geisha were Japan’s first pinup girls.

Everything came together. Newspapers had been around for a few decades and had learned the interests of the general public, new printing technology made low-cost illustrated magazines and photography (in the form of postcards) possible.

And all of this new information technology could now be widely distributed by a modern postal system launched in 1871 (Meiji 4), and modernized with trains and steamships, while new bridges and roads allowed faster wheeled transportation.

There were frequent features, gossip columns and scandals about these women, and everybody was interested in their love life.

71129-0004 - Portrait of a Japanese Woman with a Rose, 1910s
Young Japanese woman with rose, 1910s. Unattributed, collotype print on postcard stock.
70531-0018 - Japanese Woman with Parasol, 1920s
Young Japanese woman with parasol, 1920s. Unattributed, gelatin silver print on postcard stock.
70206-0043 - The Geisha Momotaro, 1920s
The geisha Momotaro (桃太郎) who worked in the Gion Kobu (祇園甲部) district of Kyoto, 1920s. Unattributed, gelatin silver print on postcard stock.
70126-0002 - The Geisha Teruha, 1910s
The famed geisha Teruha (照葉) holding a white rose, 1910s. Unattributed, collotype print on postcard stock.
101004-0056 - Japanese Woman in Kimono, 1910s
Young Japanese woman squatting in a garden, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
161217-0037 - Geisha with Umbrella, 1900s
Geisha posing with an umbrella, 1900s. Kamigataya Studio, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
120409-0039 - Japanese Woman in Kimono, 1910s
Young Japanese woman holding a basket, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
130125-0047 - Japanese Woman with Doll, 1900s
Young Japanese woman with doll, 1900s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
140303-0035 - Japanese Woman with Handkerchief, 1910s
Young Japanese woman with handkerchief, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
140303-0029 - Japanese Women in Bathing Suits, 1910s
Four young Japanese women posing in bathing suits, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
160902-0020 - The Geisha Hamayuu, 1910s
The geisha Hamayuu (濱勇) holding a parasol, 1910s. Y. Torii Studio, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
160301-0040 - Japanese Woman with Okosozukin, 1900s
A woman has an okosozukin (御高祖頭巾) wrapped around her head to protect herself against the winter cold, 1900s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
70130-0009 - Young Japanese Woman with Fan, 1910s
Young Japanese woman with fan, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
70216-0040 - Japanese Woman with Fan, 1910s
Young Japanese woman with fan, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.
70124-0011 - Japanese woman with Handkerchief, 1910s
Young Japanese woman with handkerchief, 1910s. Unattributed, hand colored collotype print on postcard stock.

For a brief discussion of the term bijin, please read Woman with Rose.

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Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). 1910s: Geisha Postcards, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on May 26, 2022 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/883/vintage-geisha-postcards-early-20th-century

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