Today’s blog post takes inspiration from two posters found in Room 19, both from the late 1880s. One was colour-printed using stone lithographic techniques. This poster also happens to be one of our expert’s favourite pieces in our vast archive.
Tannaker Buhicrosan was a Japanese man who imported tea and silk to England. A wealthy man, Buhicrosan played on the British fascination with Japanese culture at the time to make a living.
He was the brainchild behind the Japanese Village, which was built in Hyde Park. Buhicrosan relocated 100 Japanese men women and children to London to populate his village and made sure everything was traditional. Men would make kites, while women would make traditional teas.
The village proved a success. Admission was one shilling, or six-pence for children. If even Queen Victoria was willing to turn up, then it can probably be judged a fairly impressive creation for its time.
Traditional Japanese villages are generally made out of organic materials. As you can imagine, the day a fire swept through the village, the whole place went up pretty quickly. Ever the entrepreneur, Buhicrosan utilised the villagers other skills: while the village was being re-built, a travelling circus of acrobats and geishas toured Europe, earning money and staying busy.
The village stayed open until June 1887, and hosted over one million visitors. Not bad for a tiny bubble of Japanese culture 6,000 miles away from home.