Kyoto gymnasts, Japan, 1863-1864.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving of a group a gymnasts exercising in front of onlookers in the street, from 'Zhivopisnaia Iaponiia', (St Petersburg, 1870), a Rusian translation of 'Le Japon illustree' ('Japan illustrated'), (Paris, 1870) by Swis 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 inaccesible to the ordinary person. The text illustrates and discuses the life, customs and activities of the Japanese, before the influence of foreign powers; the engravings are based on sketches and photographs done while en route.