These amazing hand-colored photographs of old Japan give us a history lesson about what life was like in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. As an isolationist country opening its doors to the outside world for the first time in more than 200 years, a truly astounding transformation took place and, as fate would have it, photography had just been invented.
According to flickr user Yves Tennevin, the photographs are presumed to be taken by Adolfo Farsari, an Italian photographer who was based in Yokohama, Japan. Following a brief military career, including service in the American Civil War, he became a successful entrepreneur and commercial photographer.
Farsari’s photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-colored portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors to the country. His images were widely distributed, presented, and mentioned in books and periodicals. They shaped foreign perceptions of the people and places of Japan and, to some degree, affected how Japanese saw themselves and their country.
His studio, the last notable foreign-owned studio in Japan, was one of the country’s largest and most prolific commercial photographic firms. Largely due to Farsari’s exacting technical standards and his entrepreneurial abilities, it had a significant influence on the development of photography in Japan.
via [Yves Tennevin]