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1950s Street Scene in Gifu Japan, signage translation?

Bunkerhill

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Hello!
I am dating this photo to about 1950 and it is positively identified as having been taken in Gifu, Japan. On the reverse of the photo is written ' This is town of Gifu. Notice how narrow the streets are and how the people dress. Most of them dress American but some Oriental '. I know Gifu sustained quite a bit of damage during WWII but I think this photo was taken late 1940's early 1950's during the American Occupation. I always like vintage street scenes and wondered if forum members might be able to translate some of the signage from the store fronts. I always enjoying that aspect of vintage street scenes.
Gifu Japan.jpg
 

OoTmaster

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I'm able to recognize the ones closest to the forefront on the right hand side.
ホテル百助: Hotel Hyakusuke. Not sure if that name is correct but it's the only thing I could find for that kanji combination.
ビクター: Victor. Looked this up because I wasn't sure why it would say Victor but it could be Victor Entertainment which was formally known as Victor Music Industries.
 

nice gaijin

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So this is interesting, I was going to say that the image was reversed because several signs were flipped, like ビクター (Victor, I agree it's probably a record shop or something) and ホテル百助(hard to tell the name of the hotel from the kanji alone.. Hyakujo?), and 神田屋百債居 (Man I had to flip the image, play with levels and still squint hard at that one)


but then the sign for 生ビール (nama beer, beer on tap) in the bottom right, then エスキモー, and "Yanagase" are all oriented correctly (only "nagase" is visible, but there's another sign in the middle of the image that shows the whole name, more visible in the doctored image above). So I guess the orientation of the signs are just indicative of which direction they expected you to be reading from...

There's an actual street sign that was hard to make out, but DUH, it's 柳ケ瀬通 (Yanagase-doori, Yanagase street), the name that's also written in English. This is indeed a street in Gifu city: Google Maps

It now appears to be a covered Shoutengai (shopping street), here's a street view:
Google Maps
 

Bunkerhill

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Fascinating! If either of you need a detail scan of an area of the photo I'm happy to oblige.
 

Toritoribe

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Yeah, it's interesting indeed.

ビクター would refer to an electronics company 日本ビクター, aka JVC in overseas. I think it's an electrical store.

The kanji that follow 神田屋百 must be 貨店, thus, it's 神田屋百貨店 Kandaya department store, I think.

The sign on the deep side of 生ビール sign says ランチ, i.e., lunch. The name of the daily special lunch menu of the day would be hand written on the black board, and the sample of the dish would be on the table in front of it.

The sign on the next building might be 魚(三?). If so, it could be a fish store.

My wild guess for a sign on an electric pole on the left side of the street is ○○内科; an internal medicine clinic.

Close-ups must be helpful to read these vague kanji.
 

Mike Cash

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There is probably a merchants' association for that 商店街 which could help or who at least would be interested in the photo.
 

Bunkerhill

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- and while not depicting signage, I really like the section of the photo depicting the beanie wearing child holding his mother's hand.
Gifu Japan d2.jpg
 

Toritoribe

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Ah, the lunch of the day was curry and rice! (probably 洋風カレーライス "Western style curry and rice") I can also see "ice cream" under it.
The blackboard also says VICTORのランチ, i.e., "VICTOR's lunch". Thus, ビクター is not the name of an electronics company, or a music industry, either. It's the name of the restaurant! In fact, I can see 喫茶 食事 "Tea and Meal" under the beagle dog mark.

神田屋百貨店 and 魚 are correct, but it turned out that the name of the clinic was 河合科 Kawai surgery clinic.

I found an old postcard of the same street in an auction site. This picture was taken from the opposite side of your picture, and it would be newer than yours, but I can see the same signs such like ホテル百助 or ビクター.
postcard.jpg


postcard_closeup.jpg
 

Bunkerhill

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Toritoribe - nice find! I'm curious, the name ' Victor's Lunch '. Could this have been an establishment put together by a Westerner? It does not seem to be a particularly Japanese name. But then again, I have no idea.
 

Toritoribe

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That's my (direct) translation of "VICTORのランチ", meaning (today's) lunch menu served in the restaurant VICTOR in Japanese.
 

Mike Cash

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I found that same photo last night while trying to track down any online mention of the hotel. Apparently that one photo is the entirety of that place's web presence (until this thread). It must have closed long ago.

The Wikipedia page says that during the street's heyday people would come from quite a distance to revel there, so it must have done quite a good business back before 商店街 started to die out all over the country.

I remember the days before malls, convenience stores, ubiquitous fast food outlets, widespread car ownership, etc. when shopping for groceries might entail hitting at least two or three small shops (greengrocer, butcher shop, fish monger) to gather the ingredients and buying anything electric related was done inside a tiny shop where you could barely move. There was no parking, but it wasn't needed because they were all right there in your neighborhood anyway. If you wanted to eat out there was the option of the 大衆食堂, where even if the food wasn't 5 star or fast it was at least good and prepared from fresh ingredients when you ordered it.

All that stuff is nearly extinct now, especially in areas where car ownership is the norm, replaced by malls, fast food outlets, and convenience stores that proliferate with the fecundity of houseflies. I think many of the few that remain are mostly to give the old folks who ran them back in the day something to do. You can look in the show windows of the dry goods stores and tell they haven't ordered any new product in years and years and years in some cases. You definitely get the impression it is just their children and grandchildren humoring them in continuing to run a shop that hasn't turned a profit since god knows when. And you can almost tell when they die off because that's when the wrecking crews come around and tear the place down to make room for another 7-11, which this country needs like it needs a hole in it's head, or maybe a coin parking lot.

I wonder what a few decades hence some fresh arrival to Japan will look back on and wax nostalgic about regarding the Heisei period. The only thing I will miss about it is the hairline I had coming into it, I think.
 
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