Nyuyoku / New York
Tokyo: Seikyosha, 1914. ,3,1,18,498,pp., plus forty-six plates (two folding). Text in Japanese. Original blue pebbled cloth, gilt titles stamped on front cover and spine, top edge gilt. Minor shelf wear to boards. Binding a bit cracked at page 80, scattered, mostly minor foxing. Very good. Item #2358
An acerbic memoir by Japanese author Toichiro Harada, memorializing his stay in New York City in the early-1910s. The main thrust of Harada's memoir to modern audiences is his dissatisfaction with the people, the crowds, and the culture of the Big Apple, manifested most acutely in his animosity towards the women of New York.
In her work, Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams, Karen Kelsky states that "Harada's memoirs treat women as the objects of a kind of sexual rage." Kelsky then quotes an extended passage from the present work as translated into English, and it is particularly illuminating for Harada's viewpoint on the women he meets in New York: "Because their society has indiscriminately raised them up too high, all American women are arrogant and full of themselves.... The greatest faults of New York's women are their rudeness [fugyogi] and their bad manners [busaho]. A woman came to New York who said she had previously acted as tutor to the British royal family, but I was so disgusted with her display of these faults that walking down the street with her I lost my patience again and again and wanted to grab her and give her a piece of my mind."
Harada also takes a back-handed shot at suffragists when he describes them as "cheerful and intelligent, and quite astonishingly skillful in their ability to charm a man." And he further denigrates "paradoxical" New York women by comparing them to "geisha in training" who "view every man as either a manservant or a customer."
The work is profusely illustrated with photographic plates, illustrated plates, and in-text illustrations relating to Harada's experiences in New York. The first of these is a folding color plate scene of lower Manhattan. This is followed by photographic plates and drawings (some of which were made from photographs) of New York street scenes, the Statue of Liberty, the Flatiron and other buildings, the bronze statue of George Washington at Federal Hall, a scene inside Grand Central Station, the Washington Square Arch, an elevated view of a scene in Riverside Park, Grant's Tomb, a couple of views inside Central Park, and much more. All of the plates are captioned in Japanese.
Interestingly, there are only two short passages translated into English in the entire work - the Presidential Oath of Office and a portion of Psalm 119. OCLC records just seven copies, three of which reside in American institutions, at the Bancroft Library, UCLA, and Harvard.
Karen Kelsky: Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001), p.53.