A family dinner, Japan, 1863-1864.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving based on a photograph, from 'Zhivopisnaia Iaponiia', (St Petersburg, 1870), a Russian translation of 'Le Japon illustree' ('Japan illustrated'), (Paris, 1870) by Swiss diplomat Aime Humbert (1819-1900) who spent two years in Japan from 1863 to 1864. A middle-class family share a meal with rice and tea in a traditionally decorated room. They sit cross-legged on straw 'tatami' mats. As Envoy Extraordinary Minister Plenipotentiary for Switzerland, he was able to travel beyond the barriers of the foreign settlement at Yokohama, including areas inaccessible to the ordinary person. The text illustrates and discusses the life, customs and activities of the Japanese, before the influence of foreign powers.