1850s Japanese photography by Torin Boyd & Naomi Izakura

The origins of Japanese Photography during the 1850s:
A discussion by photo historians Naomi Izakura and Torin Boyd

Photography was first introduced in 1839 when the French government presented the findings of Daguerre and Niepce to the world. But due to Japan’s isolationist policy, this technology was not practiced in the country until May 1853 when Commodore Matthew Perry and his Pacific expedition fleet arrived on its shores. Perry’s official photographer, Eliphalet Brown Jr. (1816-1886) took daguerreotypes for this expedition, becoming the first person on record to ever produce photographs in Japan.

Prior to this date, there were small groups of scholars involved in the study of Rangaku, or “Dutch Learning”. This research into Western sciences included the new technology of photography. But it was not until 1857 that any successful results were produced when scholars of the Satsuma clan made a daguerreotype portrait of their lord, Shimazu Nariakira. As a result, all current history concerning photographs ever being produced in Japan begins with the arrival of Perry in 1853.

Japanese photo historians Naomi Izakura and Torin Boyd will be discussing these facts as well as other photographic activity in Japan during the 1850s. Also to be discussed will be Izakura’s discovery of the first time Japanese ever sat before a camera in 1851. This concerns the castaway crew of the Eiriki-Maru who were rescued off the coast of California and taken to San Francisco where they were photographed aboard a U.S. revenue ship in 1851.


– Date: Thursday, February 27, 2003.
– Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
– Where: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Yurakucho
– Admission: FREE and open to the public.
– Food & drink: if you like, an optional buffet with table seating will be
available for \1575 (tax included). RESERVATIONS FOR THE BUFFET MUST BE MADE prior to the show date by calling the FCCJ at 03-3211-3161. Drinks can be purchased at the bar.


The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan is located on the 20th Floor of the Yurakucho Denki North Building. It is a two minute walk from the following stations:

– Hibiya Station
– Ginza Station
– Yurakucho Station

Parking is also available in the basement of the Yurakucho Denki Building (at half price if the parking stub is stamped by the FCCJ reception desk).


The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan
Yurakucho Denki North Bldg. 20F
Yurakucho 1-7-1 Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-0006
tel: 03-3211-3161
fax: 03-3211-3168


Torin Boyd Photography
Tokyo, Japan