IIAS Newsletter 49 Autumn 2008

Pioneering portraits: early photography in Japan

Tani Akiyoshi

In 1997, Tokyo University’s Historiographical Institute established the Centre for the Study of Visual Sources to apply new technologies to the study of historical pictures and maps. Of particular interest is the Centre’s collection of photographs with an emphasis on portraits from the Bakumatsu to Meiji Restoration periods (1840s-1860s), gathered from sources both in- and outside Japan. Tani Akiyoshi guides us through some of the stories behind the images in the collection and shows how it’s possible to un-layer almost archaeologically successive stages of development and practice in Japan’s history of photography.

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