A woodblock illustration titled America by Japanese artist Utagawa Yoshitora, 1867.
Artist Utagawa Yoshitora (歌川芳虎) was active between 1850 and 1880. Utagawa Yoshitora designed woodblock illustrations for books and newspapers, and his works in the 1860s focused on the rapid modernization of Japan after the country opened to American trade. Though he may not have ever seen America, Yoshitora’s scene was influenced by Japan’s encounters with Americans and other foreigners. This illustration depicts men and women dressed in brightly colored western attire. In the middle of the image is an American flag raised on a flagpole displayed along a waterfront. The right portion of the image shows Americans testing hot air balloons and the background features western-style buildings, with an American naval vessel visible along the horizon.