セレクトショップのさきがけ The Pioneering Select Shop

本町通りに 弟の賢三とともにそれぞれ2軒ずつ4軒の店を構え、世界に名声を馳せたS.SHOBEYの店 の様子はどんなものだったのでしょうか。

1881年12月に来日したイギリスの アリス・メアリー・レイ夫人は、世界一周旅行でこう記しています。 「“S.SHOBEY”は、現代の刺繍を売る大商店で、屏風、掛軸の絵、刺し子 の上掛け、部屋着、その他あらゆる種類の小間物を、 非常に手頃な値段で買うことができ る。 (“Shobey's”is the great emporium for modern embroideries, where are unrivalled collection of screens, hanging pictures, quilts, dressing gowns, and every sort of nic-nac can be purchased at very moderate prices.)」 (伊藤久子「レイ夫人の世界周遊日記」『横浜開港資料館紀要』 横浜開港資料館1990。)

現代風にたとえるなら、絹製品を中心とした、セレ クトショップの趣だったといえそうです。
その店の様子や物作りの確かさは海外か ら日本に来航した当時の人たちの日記の中に記載されています。適正な価格と値引きを一 切しない信用の高さは西洋でもよく知られるところでした。

当時の店 内

By opening four stores, two of his own and two of his brother Kenzo's, what did the world think of these prominent establishments named 'S. Shobey Silk-Store'?

Writing in 1875 about his visit to Yokohama in the book, 'Dottings Round the circle' 〔Published by James R. Osgood, Boston, 1876〕, Benjamin Robbins Curtis' entry for Aug. 28, 1875 reads, 'We spent the morning in Curio Street, and are delighted with the multitude of beautiful and useful things that are to be found everywhere.  One of the first places a foreigner should visit is Shobey's silk sotre, where silk articles of all sorts can be obtained at prices which seem incredible.  Magnificent bed- spreads, with a monogram exquisitely embroidered on one side; elegant dressing-gowns and smoking jackets of heavy quilted silk; handkerchief-cases, monogram pincushions, scarves, embroidered handkerchiefs, sofa-pillows, screens, - all these are to be found, of the finest quality and the best workmanship.' (p. 75)

Mrs. Alice Mary Ray who came to Japan in December 1881 wrote about her round-the- world trip and mentioned specifically, '' 'Shobey's' is the great emporium for modern embroideries, where an unrivalled collection of screens, hanging pictures, quilts, dressing gowns, and every sort of nic-nac can be purchased at very moderate prices.'' (from 'Mrs. Ray's Round-The-World Diary', by Mrs. Hisako Ito. Published in a bulletin of the Yokohama Archives of History, 1990).

If compared to contemporary times people would likely say that mainly silk products were in quaint boutiques.  As recorded in the diaries of visitors to Japan, the craftmanship of Shobey's products were certainly memorable and considered worthy of being written about.  His products came to be known in the West for their high quality but moderate prices.