Serving sake, Japan, 1863-1864.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving of a group of Japanese drinking their national drink, which is fermented from rice and usually served warm. 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. 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; the engravings are based on sketches and photographs made during his travels.