Antique Japan Travel Guide For Westerners

There are many charming and antiquated things of note in this antique travel book titled The Club Hotel, Limited: Guide Book of Yokohama, Tokyo and Principal Places in Japan and I thought I’d share a few of them before this book and map sells.

Printed at the “Box Of Curios,” No. 58, Main Street, Yokohama, Japan, there’s no copyright or publication date; but it’s circa 1880s to 1910s. This antique book with blue cloth boards and gilt lettering contains all you’d expect in a guidebook, including hotels, excursions, tea rooms, shopping, bars, geisha, libraries, museums, churches, temples, etc. — including black and white photos, ads for businesses, AND, neatly tucked in the built-in pocket in the back cover, a fragile but pristine color map! (Map opens to roughly 12 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches, so it would not fit completely on the scanner.)

I’ve never longed to travel to the Orient, but if I could travel back in time, perhaps I would change my mind for the book says, “One can go all over Tokyo at any hour unarmed and unannoyed, which one certainly could not surely do in London, Paris, Vienna, or other Western Capitals.”

Apparently, The Club Hotel, Limited was an actual place as there are photos of the building, the entrance, the dining room, and the bar.

According to the text, The Club Hotel, Limited was located “near the landing place (English Hatoba).” More details are found on this page:

Despite The Club Hotel, Limited being a real hotel, this book has ads for many other places rather than really promoting the The Club Hotel, Ltd. (The ads must have paid for the printing, me thinks.) In fact, the first ad in this book, right inside the front cover, is for The Hotel Metropole, “the only hotel in Tokio under European Management.”

Here are some interesting (if racist due to the times) things of note from the text’s Preliminary Remarks:

The Japanese will be found pleasant mannered people. Treated politely, they are invariably polite, and as a rule very kindly disposed towards foreigners. Many of them are incorrigible procrastinators. It is always “to morrow” with them. Hotel servants, however, are often very quick, as well as good and attentive, and seeing so much of foreigners they understand foreign requirements.

The people who stamp about the streets playing a double whistle are blind Shampooers, i.e. “Massage” operators by trade.

Japanese baths are generally heated with charcoal, and it is well to be careful of asphyxia from the fumes. The bath-houses with men and women bathing in full sight of each other, are a curiosity to Europeans.

Geisha or Singing girls, which could be ordered through the tea-house, and are listed on the same page as Japanese Wrestling, Public Libraries, Museums, Places Of Worship, etc. (The scan below also includes the small map of the Temples of Shiba.)

But, of course, the collector in me is most intrigued by all the discussion of “curio shops,” which are heavily advertised in the back of the book.  (Note how the chapter begins promoting the European Curio Shops of Yokohama.)

Most notably, Kuhn & Komor, No. 37, Water Street, Yokohama, which asks you to kindly note the company’s trademark “Stork and Sun” used as a sign board on all their branches.

A few other interesting old ads I’ve scanned will be posted soon!

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Deanna

Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.

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