[Osaka?]. (circa1910). Stock ID #157323
Colour lithograph poster 54.5 x 38cm. Two closed tears from margin, the largest running 3.5cm into the image, tiny chip and one small hole. Very good. This early 20th century Japanese advertising poster for the face lotion, Hakureisui (meaning literally white beautiful water) features the face of the most popular pin-up girl in Japan in the 1910s - the geisha later known as Teruha 照葉 . On the poster alongside Teruha is a cartoonesque image of an African (African American?) in a suit, his face double the size of Teruha's, each pointing to the skin of the other - a frightening example of racial stereotyping!
Teruha was born as Takaoka Tatsuko 高岡辰子 in Nara in 1896. Sold by her alcoholic father at the age of 12 into slavery, her fortune changed two years later when she began training as a geisha in Osaka, taking the name of Chiyoha 千代葉. Due to her stunning and unusual looks she quickly became very well known. Over her career she had a number of liasons but probably the best known is her relationship with a playboy and high-end fashion dealer in 1911, as during their break-up she cut off her small finger to prove her love. Because of this scandal, she could not stay in Osaka and moved to Shinbashi, in Tokyo where she became a geisha named Teruha 照葉. In Shinbashi she was also a very popular and it was here that she became known as the "Nine-finger Geisha". Such was her fame that postcards with her image were published in large quantities and are still collected to this day.
Teruha married twice but in both cases the marriage ended badly. Her first marriage to a stock broker brought her to the United States. While in New York she enrolled in a school to learn English where she had an affair with a woman. On her return to Japan the scandal of her affair in America became known and the marriage broke up. She returned to New York, later living also in London and Paris where it is thought she might have had a child. In the 1920s Teruha also appeared as a lead character in a romantic film. In 1935 she became a Buddhist nun at Gio-ji Temple in Kyoto, where it appears she lived happily until her death in 1994.
Takegaki, the company which published this advertising poster for their lotion was located in Osaka. It appears the company is no longer in business. The caption on the poster at the lower right translates as: "For a face like this,[use] Hakureisui which removes pimples and makes [the face] white." The Japanese characters found in the frame on the lower left shows names of other medicines produced by this company. As Teruha appears to have her fingers in this image and the company was located in Osaka, it seems highly likely that the poster was produced before Teruha's move to Tokyo in 1911. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 157323).