In 1868, Japan opened its doors to the outside world for the first time in 214 years. Japan 1900 is a new book from Taschen that curates the country’s first photographs as it emerges from this age of isolation and takes its first steps into the modern era.
Packed with images of the Land of the Rising Sun at the turn of the century, Japan 1900 is the latest release in a range of books that documents different countries at this pivotal time. Previous titles have explored France, New York and Vienna, but thanks to its relative obscurity on the world stage, Japan during 1900 promises to be uniquely fascinating in comparison.
That’s because, under the feudal military government of the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan was largely closed off from the rest of the world between 1639 and 1853. The policy of limited external contact, known as Sakoku, resulted in a highly individual and distinctive culture that still persists to this day.
In the pages of Japan 1900, readers are treated to a tour of this mysterious country shortly after the easing of Sakoku restrictions. Containing more than 700 vintage photographs of Japan across 536 pages, authors Sebastian Dobson and Sabine Arqué have created “an idyllic image of Japan as a traditional, pre-industrial society.”
The XXL hardcover book takes us from the enchanting vistas of Nagasaki to the seagrit shrine of Miyajima, which are famous for being among the “Three Views” considered to be the most beautiful in Japan. Other sights include the rambling streets of Kobe to the energetic bustle of Osaka, and the ancient significance of Kyoto and Nara.
For Japanophiles, this book will be a tantalising glimpse into a mythical past. And as well as the beautifully presented photos, there are extensive commentaries covering traditions such as tea, silk and Buddhism. Topped off with itineraries across five regions, Japan 1900 is a comprehensive guide to this captivating and ancient land.
Japan 1900 is available to buy from Taschen now for £150.