'Children Playing', about 1895
© Science & Society
A hand-coloured photograph of a line of Japanese children, taken by an unknown photographer in Japan in about 1895. This photograph is from an album depicting Japanese people, customs and scenery. The children are dressed very much as adults would be. Their wooden clogs or geta have raised blocks on the soles, designed to keep their feet out of the mud. Japanese photographs produced during the late nineteenth century were often hand-coloured. In style and content they closely resembled popular ukiyo-e woodblock prints. These images portrayed Japan to Europeans as an old-fashioned and inward-looking country. This album is possibly by Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934) who worked in Yokahama from 1885 to 1912. Previously, he had worked closely with the Austrian photographer Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839-1911), buying his studio and stock of photographs in 1885. This also included negatives by Felice Beato (1825-1903). Kimbei's albums often included the work of these photographers alongside his own.