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80129-0043 - Japanese tobacco makers, 1890s

Cutting Tobacco

Artist Unknown
Publisher Unknown
Medium Albumen Print
Period Meiji
Location Studio
Image No. 80129-0043-OS
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A woman and a man in traditional Japanese clothing are cutting tobacco leaves.

The man is using a machine. The woman is brushing a leave with a small hand brush. A small screen can be seen on her left. In the background, tobacco leaves are hanging from a string.

Tobacco was usually smoked in a long-stemmed pipe called kiseru (煙管). Tobacco had to be cut very fine in order to smoke it in the tiny bowls of the kiseru.

Tobacco was introduced into Japan some time in the 16th century. By the 17th century kiseru were already so well-spread that even some Buddhist textbooks for children mentioned them. The word kiseru had its origins in the Cambodian word for tube, khsier.

Smoking kiseru pipes was extremely popular, even among women, but they were mostly replaced by paper wrapped tobacco by the Taisho Period (1912 – 1926).

This same photograph was used in Japan, Described and Illustrated by the Japanese edited by Captain F Brinkley and published in 1897 by J B Millet Company, Boston Massachusetts, USA. The photographs for this publication were sourced by Kozaburo Tamamura (1856-1923?) in the 1890s, but it is not clear who the photographer is of this particular image.


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Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). 1890s: Cutting Tobacco, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on May 26, 2022 (GMT) from

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Nice photos! You never really get to see photos like this of Japan! Where do you find them?



Thank you, Mike. I buy these images at auctions and from dealers all over the world. It is truly a global search. The only two continents where I haven’t yet bought anything are Africa and Antarctica.