Rare Hand-Colored Photographs of Japan on The Brink of Modernity in 1870s

Street minstrel, Gose.

Here’re a few rare photographs from the 1870s taken by Shinichi Suzuki (1835-1918) who photographed Japan for a foreign newsmagazine called The Far East.

After his lumber family business was destroyed by a tsunami in 1854, Suzuki traveled to Yokohama where he became an established photographer. Many of his photographs were hand-colored, which is why they appear more realistic and modern than the black and white photos of that era.

By the time of the photographer’s death in 1918, Japan had changed drastically, its society, politics, and economy were on par with the Western world. The traditional Japanese lifestyle that Suzuki Shin’ichi had captured in these photographs was being rapidly replaced by Western standards and values.

h/t: rarehistoricalphotos

Professional singers.


Tea house waitress.

Tea house waitress.

Woman in traditional garment with sword.

A Japanese woman.

Farm laborer with rain coat.

A group of Japanese women.

An unknown Japanese woman.

Osaki Kioto dancer.

Man preparing a fish.


An unknown Japanese woman.


Woman with parasol.

Two Japanese Men in Traditional Dress, 1870s.

Japanese woman in traditional dress posing outdoors.

Japanese woman in traditional dress posing with a child on her back.

Buddha Sculpture, 1870s.

Actor in samurai armor.

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