Japanese Art Print Collection

The people of Japan from Geisha to the last Samurai

These portraits are 19th century Japanese photographs most likely taken in one of the many popular Yokohama studios between the 1870s and 1890s. This collection of prints includes official portraits of the Meiji emperor and empress by Uchida Kuichi, samurai, geisha, Buddhist priests, artisans and photographs that beautifully capture the everyday life of people in Japan during the Meiji period.

The Imperial family

Uchida Kuichi was the only photographer ever allowed to photograph the Emperor Meiji. Uchida was greatly respected as a portrait photographer and in 1872 took the first ever official portraits of the Imperial family.

Women of Japan - Japanese girls and Geisha

A large number of Japanese albumen prints are dedicated to the women of Meiji period Japan. Studio portraits of Geisha were extremely popular and sold in Yokohama to western tourists.

Warriors of Japan - The last Samurai

The meiji period brought an end to the Samurai warrior class in Japan. In 1876 the Meiji government issued the Hatorei edict which prohibited wearing swords in public, previously an exclusive right of samurai during the Edo period.

Everyday life in Meiji period Japan

Although many of the everyday scenes are in fact staged studio photographs they are beautifully shot and depict a romantic ideal of ordinary Japanese life for the 19th century Western tourist.