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Ogawa Kazumasa: photos of women in the late 19th and early 20th century in Japan

Ogawa Kazumasa: photos of women in the late 19th and early 20th century in Japan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The photography of Ogawa Kazumasa in this article is based on images of Japanese ladies in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In each image you will find nothing revolutionary nor will you find a “hidden mystery.” However, the simplicity of each image and the serene effect is most heartwarming.

Indeed, if you venture into stunning gardens like Chinzan-so and you are lucky enough to see a female dressed in traditional Japanese clothes, then the “ghosts” of these images will instantly connect. It is this simplicity which appeals greatly because Ogawa Kazumasa isn’t showing an agenda or focused on highlighting perfection.

Instead, all these images are highlighting aspects of life in the distant past and from the purpose of female fashion, traditional Japanese clothes, the role of women in society, and other factors, then they do provide a glimpse. These photos also connect with the “mysterious world” of parts of Kyoto which are preserving tradition but from different standpoints. This applies to the serene looks of all the ladies in these photos and how life appears simple, refined, and at one with nature.

Images of the world of geisha and traditional houses called okiya springs to mind when thinking about the old world of Kyoto. This applies to the elite of geisha and the high culture of karyukai (the flower and willow world).

The photos by Ogawa Kazumasa are not based on this mysterious world but the simplicity and serenity of his images does conjure up a connection to “old Japan.” Of course, the reality may have been very different and this applies to all old photos which highlight aspects of past cultures in all societies. However, the dream world of “hidden mysteries” can be found in countless different cultures despite the real truth probably being very different. Yet without this “idealism,” “perfection,” and “simplicity,” the world would be more mundane and less appealing.

Therefore, while Ogawa Kazumasa took normal photos it is often the “outsider” and “dreamer” who will take them to a different level. Despite this, the original meaning behind the images and the importance of these photos from a cultural point of view can’t be underestimated. After all, they do provide a glimpse into the “old world” related to females in Japan irrespective if the area is narrow or not.

In my earlier article about Ogawa Kazumasa I comment that “Ogawa Kazumasa was a pioneer in photomechanical printing and photography. He was multi-talented in the field of photography, printing and publishing and clearly the Meiji era of his youth (Meiji Period began from 1868) was dynamic and a time of change.  Therefore, Ogawa Kazumasa had ample opportunities once his talent was recognized because a new spirit was entering Japan alongside the traditions of the past.”

“Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo and he moved to Tokyo in 1880 in order to further his English skills. After this, he moved to Boston in America for two years and after his arrival back to Japan in 1884 he opened a photographic studio in the Iidabashi area.  This was followed by the creation of Tsukiji Kampan Seizo Kaisha four years later and the following year he began Japan’s first collotype business named the Ogawa Shashin Seihanjo and during the same year he became an editor for Shashin Shinpo.”

The revolutionary period of the Meija era impacted greatly on Ogawa Kazumasa and the same applies to new technology which was opening up a new world. Also, his stay in Boston was most interesting because now he understood the reality of two major cultures. Therefore, he was a true innovator and his legacy is abundantly clear because he was a pioneer in photography and in photomechanical printing.

Ogawa Kazumasa opens up many aspects of the Meiji era and Taisho period through the photography he did. Also, he influenced many individuals during his lifetime and collectively a great deal of work was done which sheds light on both periods of Japanese history.

http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/unive/  (Photo gallery and very high quality)

http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa.shtml  

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

Please note that Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo but I have entered him under Tokyo because he was based on Tokyo and this is where his career began in the field of photography, printing, and publishing.

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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Ogawa Kazumasa: a photographer of style and panache

Ogawa Kazumasa: a photographer of style and panache

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ogawa Kazumasa 

Ogawa Kazumasa was born in 1860 and died in 1929 and he offers a glimpse into the changing nature of Japan but with the strong identity of the past. Therefore, his photography provides both sides of the same coin and this complexity would be played out in the political arena in the 1930s between nationalists and socialists.

His images remain vivid today and like Nobuyoshi Araki, but for very different reasons, both photographers provide images of a real Japan.  Ogawa Kazumasa provides images of a Japan which is caught between tradition and the onset of Western influence. 

However, Nobuyoshi Araki focuses on the sexual nature of Tokyo in modern times but he does this with a rare quality and unlike the blandness of Kishin Shinoyama who lacks individuality or genuine creativity; Nobuyoshi Araki provides images which enlighten people to the changing nature of aspects of Tokyo culture and he does this with a rare talent.

It is obvious that Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki are like chalk and cheese but in one way both are similar despite the huge differences of composition, style, time in history, techniques, different technology, art forms, and so forth; but both provide a style which opens up the subject matter that they enter and for Nobuyoshi Araki this applies to Tokyo and for Ogawa Kazumasa it applies to Japan.

Ogawa Kazumasa was a pioneer in photomechanical printing and photography. He was multi-talented in the field of photography, printing and publishing and clearly the Meiji era of his youth (Meiji Period began from 1868) was dynamic and a time of change.  Therefore, Ogawa Kazumasa had ample opportunities once his talent was recognized because a new spirit was entering Japan alongside the traditions of the past.

Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo and he moved to Tokyo in 1880 in order to further his English skills. After this, he moved to Boston in America for two years and after his arrival back to Japan in 1884 he opened a photographic studio in the Iidabashi area.  This was followed by the creation of Tsukiji Kampan Seizo Kaisha four years later and the following year he began Japan’s first collotype business named the Ogawa Shashin Seihanjo and during the same year he became an editor for Shashin Shinpo.

Ogawa Kazumasa
Ogawa Kazumasa

 

Therefore, Ogawa Kazumasa was very energetic and he was in the forefront of change in photography and he was a founding member of the important organization called the Nihon Sashinkai (Japan Photographic Society).

If we read history books then we know that Commodore M.C. Perry influenced Japan to open up in 1854 by using gunboat diplomacy and this was not a promising way to start a relationship based on mutual understanding.  However, I want to avoid the political overtures of this event because while this event is written in words the beauty of Ogawa Kazumasa is that he opens up the Meiji era because of his stunning photography and he utilized his printing skills in order to show the world.

Ogawa Kazumasa throughout his life opened up the Meiji era and the Taisho period (1912-1226) in image form.  The style he composed is of major importance to photographers and historians alike.  Also, his broad knowledge in many fields was maximized to the full and because of him, and others like Enami Nobukuni and Tamamura Kosaburo, we are able to glimpse into a changing Japan.

Ogawa Kazumasa 

His legacy remains today and Ogawa Kazumasa will continue to impress and inspire future generations because he is a connection with the past and the images he produced were of a sublime nature.

http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/unive/  (Photo gallery and very high quality)

http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa.shtml  

(Fantastic information about Ogawa Kazumasa)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

Please note that Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo but I have entered him under Tokyo because he was based on Tokyo and this is where his career began in the field of photography, printing, and publishing.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Japan

 

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