Published Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2006. 322x244mm, 320pp.
As well as providing the most complete history of Japanese photography so far published, this fascinating book provides a unique visual insight into Japan's dramatic transformation from a feudal society to a modern industrial state. In 1853 the American Commodore Matthew Perry, backed by a fleet of intimidating "black ships," compelled the reclusive nation of Japan to sign a treaty which gave foreigners access to a country that had been closed to the outside world for some 250 years. Reluctantly at first, and then enthusiastically, Japan opened its doors to people and ideas, modernizing at a rate that was, and is, unprecedented in human society. All of this was captured on camera. The 400 old and rare images in this book have been gathered from museums, libraries, and private collections from all over the world, and many of them are published here for the first time. They not only chronicle the introduction of photography to Japan, but also demonstrate that early photographic images are vital in helping us to interpret and understand the dramatic changes that occurred in mid-nineteenth century Japan. Taken between 1853 and 1912 by both commercial and amateur Japanese and Western photographers operating in the country, the photographic images, whether sensational or everyday, intimate or panoramic, document a nation on the brink of abandoning its traditional ways and entering the modern age.