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Postcards and commemorative photos at modern souvenir shops in Japan usually feature full-color high-res images of Tokyo Tower or Mount Fuji framed by cherry blossoms. At around 50 yen (US$0.50) a piece, they’re an inexpensive way to show off your recent trip or give someone a gift. Flashback nearly 150 years and those same souvenir photos start to look a little different. Let’s take a look at 23 hand-colored albumen silver prints of Meiji Era Japan that were sold abroad and to foreigners visiting Japan.

Italian photographer, Adolfo Farsari, arrived in Japan in 1873, five years after the start of the rapid social and economic change of the Meiji Era. He made his living composing and taking photos to be sold abroad in British and American territories and to foreigners visiting Japan. Because of his niche clientele, Farsari mainly focused on photographing iconic scenes of Japan and the “manners and customs” of its inhabitants. The photos were hand-colored and widely distributed, giving many people outside of Japan their first glimpse of the island nation. Let’s take a closer look at Adolfo Farsari’s work!

Umbrella makerAdolfo Farsari Photos6

HouseboatAdolfo Farsari Photos7

A festival processionAdolfo Farsari Photos3

In front of a folding screenAdolfo Farsari Photos4

Adolfo Farsari Photos2

Two women riding in a palanquinAdolfo Farsari Photos5

RickshawAdolfo Farsari Photos9

Cooking sceneAdolfo Farsari Photos8

Beautiful gardenAdolfo Farsari Photos17

Mount Fuji  seen from Tago inletAdolfo Farsari Photos22

Groom wearing a hakama and bride wearing a white kimonoAdolfo Farsari Photos21

Woman smoking tobaccoAdolfo Farsari Photos16

BonsaiAdolfo Farsari Photos15

KinkakujiAdolfo Farsari Photos11

Harbor view
Adolfo Farsari Photos12

Woman lying downAdolfo Farsari Photos14

Officer’s daughterAdolfo Farsari Photos13

Three daughtersAdolfo Farsari Photos18

Basket makerAdolfo Farsari Photos19

Two women sleeping side-by-sideAdolfo Farsari Photos20

Kyoto CityAdolfo Farsari Photos10

Adolfo Farsari Photos23

A dry riverbedAdolfo Farsari Photos

Souvenir photos sure have changed over the years!

Source: LabaQ