Silk and Woman statue
Public Art : Silk and Woman statue
Sculptor: © Shuzaburo Yasuda (1906-1981)
Description: A bronze statue of a naked woman with a
length of silk draped around her.
Date Unveiled: March, 1969.
Location: The Silk and Woman statue is located
outside the Silk Museum in Yokohama, Japan.
Background to Silk In Yokohama:
A Little Bit Of Yokohama History :
Prior to 1858 Japan was closed off to the rest of the world, having a strict isolation policy that
limited its trade with foreign countries to virtually zero. Under its Sakoku policy (which means "locking the
country") from 1633 until 1853 no foreigner could enter Japan, nor could any Japanese leave the country without the
penalty of death. However, there were a few exceptions to the rules with mainly the Dutch and Chinese traders.
After several failed attempts by the US government to broker an open trade agreement with Japan,
Commodore Matthew Perry decided to give it a try. On July the 8th, 1853, Perry anchored in Uraga Harbour on a black
hulled steam frigate (and several other ships in tow) near Edo, which is now modern Tokyo. The Tokugawa Shogunate
(shoguns who ruled during this time) basically told him to go away and try his luck in Nagasaki, the only Japanese
port open to foreigners.
Instead of taking their advice, Perry ordered his ships to head towards the capital Edo and
position their guns directly at the city of Uraga. Despite numerous requests for them to leave, Perry stood his
ground and demanded he be allowed present a letter from US President Millard Fillmore, which basically requested
the rights for the US to trade with Japan. Once they agreed to receive the letter, Perry left, promising to return
shortly for an answer. Which he did, this time with double the ships and fire power.
Much to everyone's surprise the Shogunate had agreed to all of President Fillmore's demands. On
March 31st, 1854 the Convention of Kanagawa (Treaty of Peace and Amity) was signed. The treaty opened the Japanese
ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to United States trade and guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked U.S. sailors.
The signing of the treaty would inevitably change Japan and its culture forever.
The opening of the Yokohama Port in 1859 marked the start of an industrial boom in Japan and the
westernization of a nation.