Ogawa Kazumasa (1860-1929). Japanese photographer, printer and publisher of the Meiji and Taishô periods (1868-1926).
Things Seen in Japan. 1 vol. oblong in-4° (25,5 x 37) cm. 52 unpaginated leaves, with 2 coloured maps (planisphere, the Japanese main islands) preceeding the title page, followed by 47 full page hand-tinted photographs in collotype. Gold speckled endpapers and facing fly leaves with a hand-painted poetic motif, at front and back of the volume. Japanese silk covered boards with embroidered red and white chrysanthemums and lettering on the front board. Edges gilt.
A rare (only two are listed on OCLC, at Princeton and Arizona), complete and overall clean copy of what is considered the first edition under this title (ca 1910). With 47 fine masterfully and delicately tinted collotype photographic plates of Japanese scenes and attractions, by Japan’s leading contemporary photographer. They are printed on one side of heavy stock plates captioned in English, with descriptive text in English, French and (flawless!) Russian on the facing page. Images include wedding and tea ceremonies, the Aoi Festival in Kyoto, Miyako-Odori, Hôryû-ji (the oldest surviving wooden construction in the world), a scene of the Imperial Theatre, the Gembudô Basalt Grottoes, Matsushima, Amanohashidate, Kobe Port, traditional costumes... all rather more instructive than the contemporary run-off-the-mill pictures for the foreign tourist. The plates are full page, measuring in average 18 x 26 cm.
This beautiful album proved very popular and was reprinted a number of times. In some editions all of the plates are in colour, as is the case with this copy, while cheaper ones only show some plates in colour and the others in black and white. The book also appeared in editions both with and without the two maps, with varying numbers of images and subjects, a few even with a Western style spine (as here).
The photographer, Kazumasa Ogawa (1860-1929), is one of the pioneers of photography in Japan. He was a student of Shimooka Renjō before going to the United States to perfect his skills. An innovator in the field of photography and photomechanical printing during the Meiji era, he opened in 1884 the first phototype studio in Tokyo, specialising in collotype and chromo-collotype printing. He was commissioned by the government to make the first photographic inventory of Japan's cultural property, but also published his own books and magazines. He was a founding member of the Japanese Photographic Society.
The album has neither colophon nor publisher's name or date, but it is agreed that it was published by Ogawa with his photographs. He also published at about the same time a similar album for the Imperial Government Railways under title Sights and Scenes of Fair Japan.
Condition: Except for the the silk cover of the boards which shows some serious wear around the extremities (see picture of the silk weave tapering off) and at the top and bottom of the spine, the binding is tight, the interior is predominantly clean with rare spotting here and there, a small closed tear on the page showing Miyanoshita, not affecting the print; the collotype plates are all in perfect condition. An altogether satisfying copy.
Weight: 2 kg.
- Number of Books
- Illustrated, Japan, Photography, Regional interest, Travels
- Author/ Illustrator
- Ogawa Kazumasa
- Book Title
- Things Seen in Japan
- Very good
- Publication year oldest item
- 1st Edition Thus
- Original language
- OGAWA Kazumasa
- Binding/ Material
- Hand coloured illustrations
- Number of pages
- 25.5×37 cm