Module: The Tale of Kiyū | 喜遊のはなし

Panorama of the open port of Yokohama 増補再刻御開港横濵之全圖
Utagawa Sadahide 歌川貞秀; Japan 1865 安政6
Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era (Open Collection)
Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia Library
G7964 .Y6 1865 H2

This module introduces a critical approach to understanding the Tale of Kiyū, which is set in Yokohama in the period immediately following the conclusion of the Ansei Treaties of 1858. These treaties were reluctantly signed by the Edo government between itself and Western powers, including the United States, Russia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France. Subsequently, the Port of Yokohama opened in 1859, along with other treaty ports in Nagasaki, Kobe, Niigata, Hakodate, thus ending the Tokugawa shogunate’s isolationist policy, sakoku, that had limited mainland Japan’s foreign relations for 265 years.

Kiyū’s story reveals how these imperial expansions are gendered processes, and, more specifically, what Japan’s encounter with these Western powers might have meant for underprivileged women like Kiyū. At the same time, the story is also dramatized in ways shaped by the interests and desires of xenophobic nationalists, government authorities, the publishing industry, individual writers and artists, and consumers. Explore this module to further learn about these topics.

This module consists of the following components:

  • Background #1: Interactive Image
  • Background #2: Glossary
  • Lecture Video: “The Tale of Kiyū–Texts, Print Media and Publishing in 19th Century Japan” by Saeko Suzuki
  • Exercise #1: Woodblock print, visual analysis
  • Exercise #2: Woodblock prints, comparative analysis
  • Additional resources




  • 背景 #1:インタラクティブ画像
  • 背景 #2:語彙集(主に英語使用者向け)
  • ビデオ講議:「喜遊の物語」をめぐって — 明治初期のテクストと版本出版メディア (講師:鈴木紗江子)
  • エクササイズ #1:浮世絵ビジュアル分析
  • エクササイズ #2:浮世絵比較分析
  • 追加資料