Illustrations of Japanese Life.
Described by S. Takeshima. Reproduced and Published by K. Ogawa, FRPS.Yokohama, Kelly and Walsh, Limited, 1896 Stock Code: 140033
NotesFirst edition of this fine example of the popular genre of photographically illustrated books depicting Japanese costume and culture published at the end of the nineteenth century, these the work of the foremost Japanese photographer of the period, Ogawa Kazumasa (1860-1929), known for his pioneering work in photomechanical printing during the Meiji era. "Studying photography from the age of fifteen, Ogawa moved to Tokyo aged twenty to further his study and develop his English skills which he believed necessary to deepen his technical knowledge. After opening his own photography studio and working as an English interpreter for the Yokohama Police Department, Ogawa decided to travel to the United States to learn first-hand the advance photographic techniques of the time. Having little money, Ogawa managed to get hired as a sailor on the USS Swatara and six months later landed in Washington. For the next two years, in Boston and Philadelphia, Ogawa studied printing techniques including the complicated collotype process with which he'd make his name on returning to Japan. In 1884, Ogawa opened a photographic studio in Tokyo and in 1888 established a dry plate manufacturing company, and the following year, Japan's first collotype business, the "K. Ogawa printing factory". He also worked as an editor for various photography magazines, which he printed using the collotype printing process, and was a founding member of the Japan Photographic Society" (Public Domain Review, "Ogawa Kazumasa's Hand-Coloured Photographs of Flowers (1896)", retrieved 22 April 2020).
Subjects included are geisha girls, Buddhist & Shinto priests, Ainu people, sumo wrestlers, fencers, acrobats, musicians, the tea ceremony, silk production, agricultural workers, transport, merchants and street traders. The author, Suteta Takashima, was described by the English journalist and judoka E J. Harrison as "an authority on Japanese theatricals" (The Fighting Spirit of Japan and other studies, 1914, p. 298).
Small folio. Original silk binding patterned with a chrysanthemum motif, covers with coloured illustrations on inset silk panels trimmed with gilt, lilac silk cords, gilt-flecked endpapers, patterned cloth inner hinges, gilt edges.
100 collotype plates, all but one heightened by hand-colouring or stencil, printed caption in English to each.
Binding just a little rubbed, with a touch of wear to front inset panel, and scattered (largely pin-head) foxing, one plate with small stain to fore edge. A superior copy of a vulnerable book.
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