Young Japan through Photographs

young japan7.jpgSamurai, fully armed
John Reddie Black (1826-1880) was born in Scotland but lived most of his life in China and Japan. Of the many newspapers and journals he published, The Far East (founded in 1870) is appreciated in particular because of the original photographs used as illustrations. Black was himself a photographer and although he employed both English and Japanese photographers, Black also published his own work from time to time.

young japan9.jpg His Highness the Last Shogun
In his memoir, entitled Young Japan, Black writes about the portrait [above], which he chose for the frontispiece of his book:
“I well remember the excitement in Kioto as the time approached for opening Osaka and Hiogo to foreigners. I was but 15 years old, and yet I fully recollect that my prejudices against foreigners were as strong as those of others of my countrymen. I never heard the Tycoon make any remark about them; although I was present when at Osaka the French Minister visited him, and received a sword with the Tokugawa badge as a gift, which he immediately transferred to his sword-belt and wore as he left the palace. I also was present when an English photographer from one of the English men-of-war, was invited to take the Tycoon’s portrait, and I had the honour of receiving a copy of the portrait, in conjunction with my adopted father. I have it still. (A reduced copy of it serves as the frontispiece to the first volume of this work.)”

young japan5.jpg
young japan 3.jpgA Kuge

Black’s memoir was widely published and reprinted (it can easily be found today), but only a few copies were issued with original albumen photographs pasted into the book as illustrations. The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have recently acquired one of these rare editions.

The first volume holds fifteen photographs, only one of which is almost completely faded (a map of Japan). Black died before volume two of the memoir was completed and so, perhaps, only had a hand in selecting images for the first volume.

young japan 1.jpgUragawa

John Reddie Black (1826-1880), Young Japan. Yokohama and Yedo. A Narrative of the Settlement and the City from the Signing of the Treaties in 1858, to the Close of the Year 1879 (London and Yokohame: Trubner and Kelly & Co. [printed at the private printing office of the author, Yokohama], 1880-1881). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2012- in process.

young japan 4.jpgKamakura
young japan 2.jpgAt Osaka, Castle
young japan6.jpgKubota Sentaro
young japan10.jpg

See also Terry Bennett, Photography in Japan: 1853-1912 (Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 2006). SAPH Oversize TR105 .B45 2006q