Old Asia Photography

Japanese Numbers List

​Souvenir Albums - Numbers List and Attribution Issues​

​Throughout the whole of the Meiji period and beyond, many studios in Japan issued souvenir albums of photographs. Unfortunately, many of these albums did not indicate the studio's name. Therefore, it was challenging to attribute the images' authorship to a particular studio or photographer. However, the vast majority of the photographs displayed descriptive captions and numbers on the face of the prints. A small percentage of the albums did indicate the studio with a title page or the name and address wet-stamped onto the back of the front cover. Starting in the early 1980s, I began to record the captions and numbers of those photographs contained in albums whose studios were identified. I also started to document those albums which needed to be identified. In those days, Japanese souvenir albums were relatively common. Within a few years, I could list photographs appearing in several hundreds of albums. Number patterns quickly emerged, and I identified an increasing number of studios. I published the results in my 1996 book Early Japanese Images where some 1,200 photographs were matched with their studios. In 2006 I published an expanded list of 4,000 in Old Japanese Photographs: Collectors' Data Guide. These have been further supplemented below to around 5,000. However, many gaps remain, and a few studios are yet to be identified.

Some years ago, Takahashi Shinichi discovered an album by Kanamaru Matashiro in the Yokohama Archives of History. It has proved to be a veritable 'Rosetta Stone' in that many previously unidentified photographs can now be matched with this studio. The studio was prolific. Over recent weeks and months, I have been reviewing and correcting numerous attributions. It's taken some 40 years, but the picture is much clearer. I encourage anyone with numbers that do not appear (or perhaps you have some corrections to suggest) to send in the details so they may be added. Contributing in this way would help collectors, researchers and photo historians.

A word of warning. Just because a photograph is listed below and attributed to a particular studio does not always mean that the studio in question created the image. Over the years, I have realised that the vast majority of studios had little hesitation in including the works of other studios in their portfolios. This practice might have been a simple case of geographical gap-filling if customer demand could not be satisfied with a studio's existing holdings. After all, it would have been a time-consuming and expensive process for a studio to travel the whole country photographing all of the scenes a customer might want to see included in an album. And as studio owners retired or died, their businesses might have been continued by family members, or their stock and negatives might have been sold privately or auctioned off. 

Consider just a few examples demonstrating the movement of negatives from studio to studio. One of the first studios to open in the early 1860s was one belonging to Felice Beato. He included the work of Charles Parker and a few images taken by the amateur Frederick Sutton. Most of Beato's negatives were sold to Stillfried & Andersen in 1877, who subsequently sold their stock to Adolfo Farsari in 1885. When Farsari left Japan in 1890, his studio continued under different names. But many of his negatives likely found their way to other studios when he left Japan.


In compiling the lists below, I have been helped by many generous contributors. These include: Tom Baker-Stimson, Greg Barattini, Emma Bennett, Torin Boyd, Tom Burnett, Jim Clinefelter, Agata  Czapkowska, Joseph Dubois, Elmer Funkhauser, Arlene Hall, Naomi Izakura, Nayla Maaruf, Rob Oeschle, Bonnie Olson, Adrien Saks, Christoph Scharzenbach, Fred Sharf, Pierre Spake, and Shinichi Takahashi. (Please let me know if I need to include any names.)

Terry Bennett

January 2023

Studio Number Description Comments
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 442 Yoshiwara
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 465 Suspension Bridge Koshiu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 470 Tonoki, Koshiu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 484 Minobu Koshiu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 486 Minobu Koshiu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 490 Minobu Koshiu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 492 Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 516 Miogi, Joshu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 519 Tenriu River
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 521 Suzuki Hotel, Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 530 Tomb at Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 535 Kanagawa
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 536 Kanagawa
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 537 Imaichi
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 541 Miogi Mt Joshu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 542 Garden at Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 550 Kasatori-Toge, Shinano
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 589 Tochinoki
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 592 Nagasaki
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 595 [Matsuyama]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 606 Nachi Kisu
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 608 Ise
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 614 Parlor
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 615 Kobe (Nunobiki)
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 625 Maruyama, Kioto
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 638 Minoo near Osaka
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 639 Nara
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 640 Daibutsu Nara
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 665 Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 667 Nikko
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 680 Shiba
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 686 Kioto
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 709 [Temple at Nikko]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1006 [Priest]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1020 [Girl Standing]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1031 Two Friends
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1042 Musicians
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1045 Learning to Play Shamishen
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1054 [Lady Sitting]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1057 [Woman Sitting]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1060 Konkonchiki
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1062 [Three Girls Wearing Kimonos]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1066 [Girl Sitting]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1081 [Barber]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1082 Barber
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1100 Native Horse Boy
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1185 [Selling Vegetables]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1198 [Tattoed Man]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1239 [Six Girls Dancing]
USUI Shusaburo (Studio) 1302 Fish Monger
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