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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Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912 • Donald Keene

When Emperor Meiji began his rule, in 1867, Japan was a splintered empire, dominated by the shogun and the daimyos, who ruled over the country’s more than 250 decentralized domains and who were, in the main, cut off from the outside world, staunchly antiforeign, and committed to the traditions of the past. Before long, the shogun surrendered to the emperor, a new constitution was adopted, and Japan emerged as a modern, industrialized state.


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Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road

by Anne Lacoste, Fred Ritchin — J. Paul Getty Museum

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.

Beato has come to be recognized as one of the major photographers of the nineteenth century, yet until this book was published, there was no general survey of his singular life and work.

Born in Venice, Italy, Beato came of age in the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. As a young apprentice in 1856, he photographed the sites of the Crimean War, thereby launching a long and remarkably adventurous career.

Over the next half century he would follow in the wake of the British Empire: Egypt, Palestine, and Syria; India, where he photographed the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny; and China, where he chronicled the Second Opium War.

He spent some thirty years in Japan and Burma, where he was among the first commercial photographers at the time that these countries were starting to open to the West.

The text includes an engaging narrative of his life and entrepreneurial career and a thought-provoking essay on Beato and the photography of war. There is a generous selection of his photographs, including panoramas and hand-colored Japanese studies, along with captivating period ephemera, lithographs based on his work, and humorous caricatures of the artist.


Posted by • 2019-08-23
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