Lt. John T. Alderson collection of Japan photographs, circa 1890's  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Alderson, John T
Lt. John T. Alderson collection of Japan photographs
circa 1890's (inclusive)
40 photographic prints (1 box) : hand colored ; sizes vary
Collection Number
Hand colored photographs of Japan, some by Kusakabe Kimbei showing scenes of Japanese towns and landscapes
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.

All photographs are hand colored with the exception of item 33.

Additional Reference Guides

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Lt. John T. Alderson fought in the Spanish-American War, and brought back these photographs upon his return to the US.

This collection of photographs of Japan were probably made by the well known photographer Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934). Kimbei worked as a photographer until about 1913. He first worked as a photographic colorist and assistant to Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried before he opened his own studio in 1881 in Yokohama, in the Bentendori quarter, and operated in the Honmachi quarter from 1889. He later also opened a branch of his studio in Tokyo in the Ginza quarter. His clientele were mostly foreign residents and visitors, thus his photographs tend to be of Japanese scenery and Japanese people doing activities that would appear exotic to foreigners.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

During the Meiji Period in Japan (1868-1912), foreign tourists were allowed to travel to the country for the first time in recent history. Many photographers set up studios to cater to foreign tourists, and the Japanese interest in photography expanded. Photographs and postcards became very popular souvenirs for locals as well as tourists. In addition, some photos and postcards were exported to other countries as these photographs could emphasize the exotic and feudal aspects of Japan, despite the fact that Japan was becoming increasingly westernized.

In 1868, at the beginning of the Meiji Period, the capitol of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Kyoto began to modernize around the historical sites that had been already been built. The city continues to be a modern city with modern transport, ancient temples, gardens and palaces.

In 1870, the number of professional photographers in Japan had exceeded 100, and this number continued to grow with each passing year. By the 1890s, it was a very popular trend to hand-color photographs.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The photographs include scenes of Nagasaki, Tokyo, Yokohama (including the "Foreign Settlement in Yokohama"), and greater Japan. The photograph of the French consulate in Yokohama is stamped "K. Kimbei, Photographer, Yokohama."

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions might exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact the repository for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


YokohamaReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/2 10 circa 1890's
1/2 11 circa 1890's
1/2 12 circa 1890's
1/2 13 circa 1890's
1/2 14
 View of boats on a canal and near a bridge leading to the French consulate, Yokohama
K. Kimbei, Photographer, Yokohama, Japan (photographer)
The French consulate was destroyed by the1923 Kantearthquake and only ruins of this building exist today. It destroyed much of Tokyo and Yokohama, and shifted the Great Budda.
circa 1890's
1/2 15 circa 1890's
1/2 16 circa 1890's
1/2 17 circa 1890's
1/2 18
 Coastal view of two men outside a tea house, (probably at Yokohama)
Original title half torn off: Honmo..., Yokohama
circa 1890's
1/2 19 circa 1890's

Tokio [Tokyo]Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/3 20
 View of lotus flower filled moat outside the Imperial palace wall, Tokyo
Original caption reads:Tokio Castle Wall & Lotus Pond
circa 1890's
1/3 21 circa 1890's
1/3 22 circa 1890's
1/3 23 circa 1890's
1/3 24 circa 1890's
1/3 25
 People standing under the Shinto Torii Gate at the steps leading to the entrance of Uyeno Park, Tokyo
The Torii gate religious symbol, marks the entrance to sacred space and represents the transition between the finite world and the infinite world of the gods.
circa 1890's
1/3 26
 View looking over the canal to the Mikado palace (Nijubashi) bridge, Tokyo
Original caption reads:Mikado Palace Brigde [sic] Tokio
circa 1890's
1/3 27 circa 1890's

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
  • Personal Names :
  • Alderson, John T.--Photographs