In 1853, the American fleet entered the Bay of Tokyo, marking the start of the modernisation of Japan and its opening to the West. It was in this period that photography began to reach the Orient. From the encounter between technical innovation and pictorial tradition, the so-called ‘School of Yokohama’ was to be founded, and which spread widely across Europe, where photographs coloured by hand would be sold to wealthy travellers in order to second the notion of exoticism that they nurtured of Japan while that world was slowly disappearing.
A recurring subject in Yokohama Shashin (‘Photography of Yokohama’) is the view of Mount Fuji: the real protagonist of this volume. Over the last ten years, the artist Linda Fregni Nagler has collected hundreds of original images, largely anonymous photographs from the Meiji era taken from key vantage points affording a view over the holy mountain. She then re-photographed them, printed them in the darkroom and coloured them by hand with materials and pigments comparable to those used in the day. The pictorial artifice is revealed thanks to the presence of uniform fields of colour, small extracts or parts left in black and white, inspired by the sampling process adopted during restoration.