Reports on Research Surveys by Year

October 31-November 18, 2012

The 2nd Survey of the Leiden Siebold Collection in Japan

Conducted by National Museum of Japanese History (Matsui, "Blomhoff and Fisscher Team")

Locations surveyed: 26 facilities:
Enoshima area, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History, Hakone Sekisho History Museum, Old Hakone Road History Museum, Moto Hakone, Hatajuku, Yumoto, Hakone Local History Museum, Odawara Castle, Odawara Local Cultural Center, Hatajuku Yosegi-Kaikan, Yoseki-Honma Art Museum, Kanazashi Woodcraft, Tanaka Saiichi, Ota City Local History Museum, Minakuchiya (Okitsu waki honjin), Satta Tōge Kōike Tei, Masayuki Koya, Yui Honjin Park & Tokaido Hiroshige Museum of Art, Tokaido Yuishuku Hall, Yuishuku Omoshiro Shukuba Hall, Shizuoka Cultural Properties History Museum, Shizuoka City Antique Shops and Local Toy Shops, Mishima-Goyomi Calendar Museum, Numazu City Museum of History, Fuji Municipal Museum, Sunpu Takumi-Shuku Crafts Gallery, Waseda University Central Library.

Research Objectives: A field survey of the sources of the collected items for the purpose of publishing the Blomhoff and Fisscher Catalog Manuscripts (created at the time of the sale of the collections to the Dutch Monarchy) held at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden.

Participants: Matthi Forrer (National Museum of Ethnology [Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde]) and Kuniko Forrer (SieboldHuis)

Survey Summary:
A continuation of the previous year’s (2011) investigation. Wooden handicrafts are well known even today as products of Hakone, but the wooden handicrafts in Leiden’s collection and modern wooden handicrafts made in Hakone use very different motifs and methods of construction from those in Leiden. If the objects in the Leiden collection are taken to be “standard” wooden handicrafts of the Edo period, they are quite different from modern works. Although this was also reported last year, we visited Ota City Local History Museum, and were able to determine that the straw handicrafts in the collection (such as small boxes) were collected not at Kinosaki, but at Omori. With an introduction from the vice-curator of the Edo Tokyo Museum, Junichi Kobayashi, we met with Mr. Fujizuka, curator of the Ota City Local History Museum, who also conducts research on Ōmori handicrafts (especially Straw Handicrafts produced in Ōmori), and although Ōmori it is well known for producing straw handicrafts, in regards to items like small boxes, he did not have any physical evidence to prove that such items were produced in Ōmori. Therefore, a possible hypothesis is that that while dolls were produced in Ōmori, small boxes were produced in Kinosaki. However, in a map of famous places in Edo, a picture showing that small boxes were also sold in Ai-no-shuku Ōmori is depicted, and this became a real headache for Mr. Fujizuka.

However, for the Dutch collectors who mainly collected objects from along the Tōkaidō road, Ai-no-shuku Ōmori was clearly one place to buy such objects, and although the Dutch collectors’ spelling is incorrect, it is recorded that they obtained straw handicrafts in “O-mori.” Therefore, it seems like Ai-no-shuku Ōmori was the source of these objects, and it this was important exchange opportunity information for researchers on Japanese and Dutch relations.

Additionally, at Ejiri (Kiyomizu) we were able to confirm that many traditional handicrafts from Ejiri are included in the Leiden collection. We were not able to get results from all of the places we visited. However, for the publication of the Blomhoff and Fisscher catalogs, there were many entries that we could not understand and had to give up on, but could anticipate finding information about them at regional historical archives and museums, which was indeed the purpose of conducting two separate field surveys.

In anticipation of future research on materials related to Japan held overseas, as a “time capsule of 19th century (Bunka and Bunsei Period) Japan,” the organization of material at the Leiden Ethographic Museum materials should not be neglected. Although the Blomhoff and Fisscher catalogs is no more than a starting point, they are indispensible tools for this research.

(Text by Kuniko Forrer)