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Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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A Compilation of Jokes

A Bag of Laughs

"滑稽 笑袋"

Murata, Tamesaburō [text by].

Tōkyō: Hakkōdō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A woodblock-printed collection of amusing mistakes and misheard words. The compilation, publication of which was certified by the Home Ministry, is almost entirely in katakana.


One leaf, complete. Creases, light foxing, marks, small hole and sticker removal. 24 ...

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Two Books of Sewn Amulets for Children's Kimono

A Book of Protection Crests

[Japan, ca. late Edo to early Meiji period (1850-1870s)].


Semon ("back crests"), also known as semamori ("back-protectors" or "back amulets"), were designs sewn into children's kimono to prevent evil spirits from attacking them from behind or to prevent the soul from leaving the body. These two books feature a total of 76 designs hand-sewn through the paper with threa ...

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An Untitled Kuchi-e Print

A Collage of Illustrations by and of Famous Figures

[Untitled Kuchi-e Print]


Sensai [Kobayashi], Eikō [illustrated by].


[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Meiji period (1890-1910s)?].


A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

[Japan: publisher and creator unidentified, ca. early to mid Meiji period (1870-90s)].


A collection of fabric representations (oshi-e (押絵)) of characters from ukiyo-e. The title slips and lines of characters' clothes appear to have been cut out from woodblock-prints and laid onto various pasted-down fabrics to bring the characters to life. Some sections of the figur ...

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Twenty-Three Kamon and Katagami Stencils

A Collection of Pattern Stencils for Fabrics

[Japan: creator unidentified, ca. late Taishō to early Shōwa period (1920-40s)].


A collection of beautiful stencils for dyeing patterns onto ‘happi’ [traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coats] and/or ‘haori’ [formal coats]. Most of the stencils feature ‘kamon’ [circular family crests], and would have been used for the b ...

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With Several Woodblock-Printed Postcards

A Collection of Postcards and Letters from, and relating to, Edmund Blunden

[Japan, England, ca. 1923-1930]. In manuscript.


A collection of two letters and two postcards from Edmund Blunden to English bookseller J.S. Billingham, along with four postcards from Blunden's Japanese students to the same bookseller, and two blank postcards sent to Billingham by Blunden. Blunden was the Professor of English at the University of Tokyo from 1924 to 19 ...

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An Embroidered Fabric Fragment

A Fragment of Fabric Depicting a Bird's-Eye View

[Fabric Fragment].


[Designer unidentified].


[Japan: manufacturer unidentified, ca. Meiji period (1868-1912)?].


A cutting of f ...

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A Fabric Fragment

A Fragment of Fabric Depicting Foreign Ships

[Fabric Fragment]


[Designer unidentified].


[Japan: manufacturer unidentified, ca. Meiji period (1868-1912)?].


A cutting of fa ...

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A Fan-Painting Attributed to Kyōsai

A Hand-Painted Illustration Signed by Kyosai

Seisei [Kawanabe], Kyōsai [signed by].


[Japan, ca. mid Meiji period (1870-80s)?]. Manuscript.


A delicately hand-painted illustration attributed to Kyōsai. The scene, possibly alluding to setsubun, is comical, with one figure seemingly mistaking an oni mask resting on the bottom of a sleeping man for a real face. A very finely executed fan-painting i ...

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A Master and Servant Observe Obedience to Their Duties and a Disaster is Averted

A Moral Lesson on Loyalty from Ancient Rome

Shujū Gi wo Mamorite Nan wo Manukaru ["A Master and Servant Observe Obedience to Their Duties and a Disaster is Averted"]

Ōju [Mizuno], Toshikata [illustrated by]; [Tominaga], Toshichika [corrected by].

Tōkyō: Tsuji Keiji: Fukyū sha, Meiji 21 [1888]. "Later printing".

To Become a World-Famous Scholar After Renouncing Alcohol

A Moral Lesson on the Evils of Alcohol

Kōfu Sake wo Tachite Issei no Kuwauju to Naru ["To Become a World-Famous Scholar After Renouncing Alcohol"]

[Kobayashi], Toshikazu [illustrated by]; [Tominaga], Toshichika [corrected by].

Tōkyō: Tsuji Keiji: Fukyū sha, Meiji 21 [1888]. "Later printing".

&n ...

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An Untitled Greeting Card

A New Year's Card from the Japanese Communications Minister, in French

[Untitled Greeting Card]

[Minister of Communications].

Tōkyō: [Ministry of Communications], 1917.


An illustrated card in French from "Le Ministre des Communications du Japon", wishing the unidentified receiver a H ...

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A Ranking of Non-Mountain Mountains and Non-River Rivers

A Parody Ranking of 'Mountains' That Aren't Mountains and 'Rivers' That Aren't Rivers

"山でない山 川でない川 見立すもふ"

Nanritei [created by].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A ranking of words and names (often those of brands) ending with yama ("mountain") that are not themselves the names of mountains, and the same for rivers (kawa). Nanritei (1782-1860) was a yomihon and gesaku author who lived durin ...

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A Ranking of Lies

A Parody Ranking of Lies


[Creator unidentified].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A mitate hyōbanki or banzuke of oft-used lies. The 'winners' of the ranking are "the young person who says they hate women" and "the old person who says they want to die quickly" - these people are presumably accused of telling the mo ...

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[Tōkyō]: Sekaido, [ca. mid-Shōwa period (1930-50s)?].

A Postcard Featuring Izumiya Ichibei's Bookstore

[Kitao, Masayoshi ... (et al.) (illustrated by)].

[Tōkyō]: Sekaido, [ca. mid-Shōwa period (1930-50s)?].


A collection of four postcards introducing famous places in Tokyo, featuring an illustration of a shop selling ezōshi (illustrated books), nishiki-e (ukiyo-e prints), hanging scrolls, and other items in Asakusa's Nakamise shopping street. ...

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An Unrecorded Sugoroku by Kokunimasa

A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals

[A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals]

Kokunimasa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō: Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A paper sugoroku game illustrated with various animals, by Kokunimasa. Kokunimasa was almost certainly Utagawa Kunimasa V (years of birth and death undetermined), who used the name Baidō Kokunimasa between 1889 and 1896. Many animals foreig ...

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A Striking Night Scene of an American Steam Locomotive

Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai

亜墨利加國蒸氣車往来 [Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai, “The Transit of an American Steam Locomotive”]

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō: Maruya Jinpachi, Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


This eye-catching triptych of an American "steam train" is believed to be based on an image of the Japanese embassy arriving in 1860 in Washington, D.C., fr ...

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On Medicine

An Advertisement Designed to Resemble a Leaf from a Book

Reihō Mankintan ["Sacred Tiger Balm"]

Ise, [Japan]: Noma Inaba-en, [ca. mid-Edo period (17th to 19th century)].


An advertisement or set of instructions for the Noma family brand's Reiho Mankintan, a famous cure-all popular as a souvenir from Ise in the Edo period. The print is designed to look like a leaf from a book, as is apparent from the hanshin title colu ...

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Transformation of a Person's Temperament: Free Education Method, Illustrated

An Advertisement for a Book on Phrenology

Hitojichi Henkan: Jizai Kyōikuhō Zukai ["Transformation of a Person's Temperament: Free Education Method, Illustrated"]

Mihara, Muneaki [book being advertised authored by].

Okayama: Ritsuma Akiko, [ca. Meiji 21 (1888)].


A copperplate-engraved advertisement for the publication of a work on phrenology by Mihara Muneaki. The misspelled English subt ...

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In Stunning Blue Tones

An Aizuri Triptych of Washington, D.C.

"亞墨利加洲内華盛頓府之景銅 板之寫生"

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō]: Maruya Jinpachi, [ca. Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


A decidedly European depiction of Washington, purportedly based on an (asyet unidentified) copperplate engraving. A scarce aizuri-e of a foreign scene by Utagawa Yoshikazu (active ca. 1850–70), a pupil of Kuniyoshi (1 ...

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Illustrated by a Little-Known Pupil of Kyosai

An Unrecorded Aesop's Fables Triptych

通俗伊蘇普物語 第八号部圖 [Tsūzoku Isoppu Monogatari, Dai Hachi-gō-bu-zu, “Aesop's Fables: Illustration of Number Eight”]

Yamamoto, Ryūdō [illustrated by].

Kanda, [Tōkyō]: Takekawa Seikichi, Meiji 10 [1877].


An unrecorded triptych by Yamamoto Ryūdō (1845-1913), a pupil of Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889), of a story from Aesop's Fables ...

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Four Colourful Asahi Caramel Posters

Asahi Caramel

[Japan]: Asahi Caramel, [ca. early Shōwa period (1930-50s)].


A set of four posters advertising Asahi Caramels.


Four leaves. Creases, light wear, small marks. Lacking string attachments. Each leaf measures approx. 39 x 13 cm.


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An Envelope for 'Besto' Sugar

Best Sugar

[Japan: maker unidentified, ca. mid-Meiji period (1880-1900)].


A paper envelope used as packaging for "Best Sugar", a product from an unknown manufacturer. The illustration has been woodblock-printed and the Japanese characters lithographically-printed. The use of Roman characters was considered a popular and stylish addition to advertisements in the Meiji period.

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Two Advertisement-Calendars

Calendars for 1901

Ōsaka: Kōtō Saburō, Hisayama Yūkichi, Meiji 33 [1900].


Two woodblock-printed calendars for 1901, published in 1900 by two Osaka printers as advertisements for a rice store and a tuna store.


Two leaves. Chips to extremities, creases, and occasional small marks. 53 x 37.9 cm (left) and 53.5 x 35.4 cm (right).


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A Collection of Humorous Poems

Comical Great Poets Compared: Large New Edition of Elegant Words

"大しんぱん 大笑歌仙合 やさことば"

[Creator unidentified].

Gion, [Kyōto]: Yamasa, [ca. Edo period (early 19th century)].


A woodblock-printed collection of risqué poems, mostly about courtesans, published in the entertainment district of Kyōto in the early 19th century. The publisher, Yamasa, also produced kappazuri prints designed by Urakusai Nagahide in ...

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Twenty Counting Poems about Benten Kozō

Counting Songs of Benten Kozō


[Kimata, Asakichi? (text by); Kawatake, Mokuami (original play written by)].

Okazaki, [Aichi]: Kimata Asakichi, Meiji 29 [1896].


A collection of twenty kazoeuta (counting songs or poems), each with three lines, based on the tale of the young thief Benten Kozō Kikunosuke from the kabuki play Aotozōshi Hana no Nishikie ("The Glorious Pictur ...

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An Advertisement for the Mysterious Men and Miss Nelly

Curieuse Soirée Fin de Siècle par Les Hommes Mystérieux

Lyon: G. Véronnet, [ca. 1880s].


An advertisement for a theatrical event in Lyon featuring the Mysterious Men, Miss Nelly, Sir Robertson, and Doctor Méphisto, on flat (non-crêped) paper with decorative margins printed in Japan. The illustration features a woman and a child looking up at two cranes while an elderly man ties his shoelaces, missing the sig ...

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Ōji Seishi-Gaisha Ryakuzu

Diagram of a Papermaking Factory

Ōji Seishi-Gaisha Ryakuzu ["Diagram of the Ōji Paper Company"]

Ōsai [Utagawa], Fusatane [Murai, Shizuma] [illustrated by]. 

Asakusa, [Tōkyō]: Tsunashima Kamekichi, Meiji 10 [1877].


A copperplate-engraved diagram of the different stages of papermaking at the Ōji Paper Company. The illustration depicts the paper mill the company built in 1875 ...

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Four Hansatsu Notes

Four Hansatsu

Okada Domain, [Okayama]: Shichiya Kojimaya, Kyōho 17 [1732].


Four woodblock-printed hansatsu, feudal scrip used in the place of legal tender. These ginsatsu ("silver notes") each represent one monme (3.75g) of silver, and were issued in Kyōho 17 (1732).


Four leaves, printed on both sides. Wear, light soiling, creases. Each leaf measures 19.7 × ...

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Four Book-Envelope Designs from Sōshi Mon'yōshu

Four Sōshi Patterns

[Koshōtei, Sanjin (edited by).

Kyōto: Maria Gabō, ca. early Shōwa period (1920-30s)].


Four colour woodblock-printed reproductions of book-envelopes and wrappers of kusazōshi books, affixed at the edges to make one large leaf. The illustrations are probably from Sōshi Monyōshū (草紙文様集), a collection published in the early Shōwa period by Maria Gabō.

& ...

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A Game Sheet of 1904 Buzz-Names

Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e

福引口訛絵 [Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e, “A Lottery Illustration of Provincialisms”]

Nagoya, Aichi: Tsukamoto Sutesaburō, [ca. Meiji 37 (1904)].


This print depicting famous figures of the early 1900s may have been used as a paper "board" game for gambling. The illustration uses a bright red pigment characteristic of Meiji period prints and features mil ...

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A Scene from a Nanshoku Play

Honour in a Loyal Death: the Great Fire at the Hosokawa Residence


Kōchōrō, Kunisada [Utagawa, Kunisada III (illustrated by)]; Kawatake, Shinshichi III [original play by].

Nihonbashi, [Tōkyō] : Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 22 [1889].


A triptych by Utagawa Kunisada III (1848–1920) depicting the most famous scene from the kabuki play Tsutamoyō Chizome no Goshuin (蔦模様血染御書, “The Ivy-Patterned Blo ...

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Examples of Ways to Fold Envelopes

How to Elegantly Package Gifts, Warrior-Style

Tsutsumimono Orikata Hinagata ["Examples of Ways to Fold Envelopes"]

[Creator unidentified].

[Japan, ca. Meiji period (1868-1911)?].


A collection of 54 samples of papers folded in specific ways for various occasions. Rules for the correct pre ...

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Two Hundred Uncut Hyakunin Isshu Cards, Illustrated by Keisai Eisen

Hyakunin Isshu Karuta

[百人一首歌留多 (Hyakunin Isshu Karuta, “Cards of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets”)]

[Keisai, Eisen (illustrated by)].

[Tōkyō]: Shiba Senichi, [ca. 1850-60s].


A complete set of two hundred uncut hyakunin isshu cards (one hundred poem cards and one hundred poet cards) in eight leaves. The publisher and printer was Shiba Senichi (芝泉市), ...

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A Movable Advertisement for an Exhibition of New Fabric Designs

Information on the Fifth Miyabi-kai

Kyōto: Miyabi-kai, [ca. 1920-30s].


An early Shōwa period invitation to an exhibition of fabrics with new dyeing and weaving designs held by the Miyabi-kai. Information about the location and time of the event appears in the illustration of the gramophone and its base when the lower moving section of the card is revolved.


One card, complete. Light di ...

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A Japanese Packet for Scottish 'Turkey Scarlet'

John Orr Ewing & Co. Best Turkey Scarlet: H. Ahrens & Co., Yedo, Yokohama & Hiogo

[Japan]: H. Ahrens & Co., [ca. 1870-1910].


A piece of packaging for 'Turkey red' (a colour used to dye cotton fabrics) with a lithographic label tipped-in. H. Ahrens & Co. was a German trading company based in Tōkyō with branches in Yokohama and Kōbe. John Orr Ewing & Co. was the name of a prominent Turkey red firm in Scotland.


O ...

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Mountain River on the Kiso Road: A Postcard Triptych

Kisoji no Yamakawa

木曽路之山川 [Kisoji no Yamakawa, “Mountain River on the Kiso Road”]

[Utagawa], Hiroshige I [illustrated by].

[Japan: unidentified publisher, ca. early to mid-20th century].


A set of three unused postcards delicately woodblock-printed with Hiroshige's famous illustration of the snowy Kiso Valley. Originally printed in 1857, Mountain River o ...

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Trials of Strength Between Celebrity Rivals

Kōkoku Raimei no Shokun Mitate Chikara Kurabe


[Katsushika?], Masahisa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō : [publisher illegible], Meiji 15 [1882].


An engrossing triptych featuring over three hundred famous people engaged in bouts of kubihiki. Kubihiki was a Japanese game in which a looped string was placed around the necks of two people and a trial of strength would ensue. In this work, cel ...

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An Untitled Programme/Menu

Menu for a US-Japan Themed Naval Celebration

[Untitled Programme/Menu]

[Japan: publisher unidentified], 1923.


A programme and menu for a US-Japan themed celebration, in French. The embossed naval crest on the upper section of the card implies the event was held on a ship.

A Picture-Puzzle Calendar

New Edition Puzzle-Picture: Days of the Old (Lunar) Calendar

"しん板はんじ絵 旧の月日"

[Japan: publisher unidentified, Meiji 22 (1889)?].


Egoyomi ("picture-calendars") were originally produced in the Edo period for people who could not read. Typically, months in the calendars were indicated by numbers on dice, and the Zodiac animals were used to indicate the first days of the months. Months with 31 days are listed underneath a ...

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A Vivid Chiyogami Paper Printed with a Metallic Pigment

New Patterns for Yūzen Dyeing


[Illustrator unidentified].

[Tōkyō]: Shiseidō, [ca. 1900-1920s].


A chiyogami paper illustrated with a design for yūzen dyeing of waves, flowers, and shallow sake cups marked with the character 壽 ("lucky"), woodblock-printed with a metallic pigment.


One leaf, complete. Browned, light creases, a few bumps to extremities ...

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An Art Dealer's Advertisement Depicting the Tokugawa Shōgun at Nikkō

Objets d'Art Authentiques du Japon, de la Chine et du Tonkin

Luchon: Sarthe, [ca. 1909].


An advertisement for the Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese wares of antiquities dealer M. Armand Loge, who is known to have published a catalogue of East Asian art objects including carved woods, bronzes, weapons, ivories, netzuke, lacquers, and inrō from the Collection Rabeuf in 1909. The name Tagawa-ya in the bottom left of the print is proba ...

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An Untitled Manuscript Record

On Booksellers' Official Licenses

[Documents Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (text by)].

[Ibaraki, Japan], Meiji 4 [1871]. Manuscript.


A handwritten draft or record of a text produced by authorities regarding the granting of official licenses to booksellers, on stationery woodblock-printed by the Koga Domain (present day Ibaraki Prefecture).


Two folded leaves, considerab ...

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A Collection of 157 Envelopes Housing Paper Templates

Over 150 Paper Templates for Oshi-e Pictures

[Collection of Oshi-e Templates]

[Creator unidentified]. 

[Japan, ca. early to mid-Meiji period (1860-1880s)?]. 


A collection of 157 envelopes housing paper templates used to make oshi-e (raised pictures made with padded cloth). The templates would have been affixed to thick cloth, which would then have been cut to the same size as the paper. The ...

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An Untitled Collection of Match Labels

Over 500 Labels from the '20s and '30s

[Untitled Collection of Match Labels]

[Japan: various publishers, ca. Taishō to early Shōwa period (1910-30s)].


A collection of over five hundred Japanese product labels from the 1920s and 1930s, tipped-in to a photograph album. Most of the labels ar ...

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Paper Guides for Sewing Shoes or Socks

Paper Guides for Sewing Tabi or Jika-Tabi

Ōsaka: [Yamakichi?], ca. early Meiji period (1870-90s)].


A set of three paper templates for cutting materials to make tabi socks or jika-tabi (shoe-like tabi), woodblock-printed with instructions. The templates have been sewn together and may have been sold as a set in this format.


Three templates, sewn together, with an accompanying hand-inscribed ...

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A Collection of Twenty Protection Amulets

Paper Mamori Collection

[Japan: publishers unidentified, ca. Edo period (19th century)].


A collection of twenty woodblockprinted mamori, woodblock-printed paper amulets usually sold at temples and shrines. Most of the amulets record what the buyer will be protected from, and several are enclosed in woodblockprinted 'envelopes'.


Twenty paper amulets. Creases, mark ...

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Boy with Camera

Photograph of a Boy Preparing to Take a Photograph

[Japan]: Shimomura, [ca. late Meiji to Taishō period (1900-20s)?].


An unusual image possibly featuring the son of the photographer.


One card, photograph tipped-in. Scrapes, light foxing, a few marks. 24.2 x 18.3 cm.


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An Untitled Collection of Photographs

Photographic Records of Eclipse Expeditions to Hokkaido

[Untitled Collection of Photographs]

[Photographer unidentified].

Esashi, Hokkaidō: Asakura Shashinkan, [ca. Shōwa 11 (1936)].


A collection of 24 photographs capturing various groups that travelled to Esashi, Hokk ...

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A Dream Omen of the Floating World

Pro-Foreign vs Anti-Foreign Trade: a Fūshi-e

Ukiyo no Nami Yume no Uranai ["A Dream Omen of the Floating World"]

[Kawanabe, Kyōsai (attributed to)].

[Edo (Tōkyō)?: publisher unidentified, ca. Bunkyū 3 (1863)].


A comical fūshi-e featuring people whose busin ...

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Classic Illustrated Books Modern Art and Design Books Translations of Western Texts Japanese Literature Prints and Ephemera Western Books Photo Books Paintings & Scrolls Australia & New Zealand Others


Australia New Zealand Antarctica Japan Korea China Other


Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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