OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN, a photo blog of Japan in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods

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Old Photos of Japan
shows photos of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s. In 1854, Japan opened its doors to the outside world for the first time in more than 200 years. It set in motion a truly astounding transformation. As fate would have it, photography had just been invented. As the old country vanished and a new one was born, daring photographers took photos. Discover what life was like with their rare and precious photographs of old Japan.
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Recent Comments  
  • Kjeld Duits

    Thank you for sharing. There are quite a few other photos that have also been …

  • TosaToast

    I’ve read that this is actually a photograph of Saito Kichi (斎藤きち). A woman involved …

1880s • Woman in Kimono

Women in Kimono

A beautiful portrait of a woman in kimono. This photograph was extremely popular during the late 1800s and has been attributed to just about every major photographer who was active during that time. In his book Early Japanese Images , photographic expert Terry Bennett calls this woman an “officer’s daughter” and dates it to the 1880s.

His notes give a little background information:

Variously attributed to Stillfried, Farsari, and Kusakabe, this charming portrait enjoyed great popularity during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, appearing not only in tourist albums but even in travel guides to Japan. Clearly this image corresponded with Western notions of Japanese feminine beauty. However, the author once saw an inscription that read “Eurasian Beauty.”1


Since I wrote this article, Japanese photo researcher Rob Oechsle attributed this image to Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839–1911) and dates it to 1876-1885. The name Miss Matsuida was found on part of an early manuscript notation on the mount of a print of this image.

1 Bennett, Terry (1996). Early Japanese Images. Charles E, Tuttle Company, 143. ISBN: 0804820295.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Unknown
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number: 70208-0015
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Posted by • 2008-12-12
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I’ve read that this is actually a photograph of Saito Kichi (斎藤きち). A woman involved in a tragic love story during the Bakumatsu. She was forced to leave her fiancé and was strategically assigned to be Townsend Harris’ concubine during his time in Japan.


# TosaToast · 2015-06-23

Thank you for sharing. There are quite a few other photos that have also been claimed to show Saito Kichi. As far as I know there is no proof that any of these photo truly show Saito.

Are you familiar with Shimoda Story by Oliver Statler? From page 384 he gives a very well-researched account about what really happened to Saito. The most reliable account I have found so far.

# Kjeld Duits · 2015-06-23

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