A worker pulls a passenger cart over a wooden bridge, Mount Fuji’s snowy peak rising in the background. Men wear long dark robes as they catch fish from traditional Japanese boats, and women dive for pearls in the river. Looking at these photos of rural Japan, it’s hard to believe they were only taken 100 years ago.
The photographic techniques, however, are deliciously retro. Tinted in blue or sepia, the photos are overlaid with multiple exposures, soft-focused for a hazy glow. At the turn of the 20th century, this so-called “pictorial photography” was enjoying a brief international boom. Japan, meanwhile, was experiencing a period of rapid industrialisation which would see it move from a feudal to a modernised nation. These fascinating photos offer an insight into a way of life that was already disappearing.
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