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.
Good Book Tip
Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road • Anne Lacoste, Fred Ritchin

Felice Beato (1832–1909) lived and worked in Japan from 1863 through 1884, just as the country opened its doors to the world. He was extremely active in Japan, and portrayed the Japanese with dignity and as equals of Westerners. He was the first photographer in Japan to sell albums of his works. Most likely, it was Beato that introduced the later so diligently followed concept of “views” and “types” to photography of Japan.

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Good Book Tip:

Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

by William W. Fitzhugh et al — University of Washington Press
Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

Japan’s indigenous people, the Ainu, inhabited Hokkaido, the Kurile Islands, southern Sakhalin Island, and a portion of northern Honshu. They had a unique culture and language, completely separate from that of the Japanese. By the middle of the 19th century, the destruction of this ancient culture was set in motion by Japan’s national government.

At the start of the 21st century, more than a century after the destruction had begun, the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center created a thoroughly researched exhibit. This book was published to accompany this exhibit. It is the best English language treatise available on Ainu prehistory, material culture, and ethnohistory.

The book deals with six different aspects of Ainu culture, and features, among others, chapters on Ainu origins, religion and cultural practices, material culture, and social and cultural issues. All these chapters have been written by noted authorities of Ainu history and culture and include contributions by Ainu scholars.

Often, scholarly volumes are not very attractive looking, while musem volumes do not always have much depth. Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People manages to have both depth and great design. This makes the book extremely satisfying to both people unfamiliar with Ainu culture, and those who want to know more.

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Posted by • 2008-12-30

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