Japan through wonderful vintage photos
September 9, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Vintage 3-D stereoviews of old Japan, Meiji and Taisho era swimsuit girls, working people, geisha, and kids, old Japan salt prints, dozens of T. Enami glass slides, and strange or offbeat images: all part of a vast and superb collection of Japanese photos from 1862 to 1930 by flickr user Okinawa Soba.

More on the work of T-Enami, "King of the Stereoview, Master of the Lantern-Slide And Prolific, Anonymous Contributor To the World of Yokohama Album Views"
posted by madamjujujive (17 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Aside from some of the odd comments these are a nice glimpse into what some may call candid moments of a rather mysterious (to Westerners) culture.
posted by Gungho at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2008

Oh, man, I love me some 3D. Via metafilter, years ago, I learned that one can view these using the "magic eye" trick. First, though, one must flip the images, so the left is on the right, and vice-versa. It's easy to do using two browser windows. Fantastic (and headache-inducing)!
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2008

Lovely snowscene

Nature path

Imperial Hotel (now gone)
posted by troy at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2008

You lost me, MoonPie. I can view these in 3D the way they are now.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you prefer (as I do, and I guess moonpie does) to view them cross-eyed instead of wide-eyed, then you do need to reverse the pairs; otherwise you will get a 3d effect but it will have the depth reversed so that far is near and vice versa.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2008

You're seeing them backwards, roll truck roll (or inside out, or something). With old stereographs, the right image is viewed by the right eye, the left by the left. You need to flip the images if you want to see them as they were meant to be seen. Yeah, you can see 3D effects without reversing the images, but they're way better reversed.

Open two browser windows. Resize the left one so only the right-most image appears. Do the opposite with the right window. Now move the windows so they're side-by-side. Cross your eyes, and be amazed!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:26 AM on September 9, 2008

These are really fantastic but I'm getting a headache. Can anyone recommend a decent, cheap (possibly DIY) viewer for this type of stereoview on computer monitors? The google results came up kind of pricey
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2008

I don't get why they need to be flipped. I viewed one cross-eyed and it seemed fine. Leaves pointing out of the picture.

Or maybe I'm being over-literal with "cross-eyed"? When I say "cross-eyed" I don't literally mean "my right eye is looking to my left". I just mean I un-correlate the images from my two eyes. The right eye is still looking at the righthand picture. I think a literal cross-eye viewing might be medically impossible.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2008

I think that Wolfdog hit the nail on the head. If I try to it cross-eyed, I almost immediately start tearing up. But the thing is, I'm looking at this the same way I used to look at Magic Eye posters, and those never came out backwords for me.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2008

Read a bit.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2008

Wonderful photos, its too bad Okinawa Soba's comments are juvenile and off putting.
posted by cazoo at 1:12 PM on September 9, 2008

Amazing find dear madamjujujive.

Those really are superb photographs. Delicately hand colored, miniature masterpieces. One exquisite gem after another. ooooh. And I enjoy Okinawa Soba's comments. It sounds like he's been nitpicked by snarkers at Flickr and may be just fed up with that, so he's blunt but very informative.

huh, who knew there was a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Japan? I didn't. Interesting history.

Okinawa Soba's sets: What a feast of rich visuals and all kinds of fun, obscure stories, like basket heads; the Ainu; prostitutes.

My favorites, and there are many, are the ones about working.
posted by nickyskye at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2008

Great collection. On a related note, here's a pretty good photo blog dedicated to vintage Japanese photos.
posted by p3t3 at 5:50 PM on September 9, 2008

So many stories in those images. This one in particular is heartbreaking example of the effect of modernization:

SHELL PICKERS AT JUNITEN SHRINE NEAR YOKOHAMA -- Women on the Tidal Flats in Meiji-era Japan ("Salt Print" # 6)

"Starting in the 1950s, the Government kicked everybody out.The ocean was then land-filled to the horizon. On the land-fill was built....Storage tanks...Factories....Parking Lots and a whole new world of industry. Where the girls are standing is now a 4-lane divided access road."

A view of the area in 1890.

A photo from the same perspective in 2006.
posted by Merik at 11:27 PM on September 9, 2008

And i forgot to add:

Fantastic post, thanks madamjujujive.

This combines my love of stereo images with my romanticised fascination with pre-industrial Japan. Who would have thought!
posted by Merik at 11:30 PM on September 9, 2008

Apparently the images in my previous comment where from a set called "Then and Now" by the same flickr user which includes 1890's photos of Japan paired with a modern photo from the same perspective.
posted by Merik at 11:34 PM on September 9, 2008

As cool as the Steroviews are, I'm more fascinated with the box labels found on page 2 of his collection
posted by vertigo25 at 10:07 AM on September 10, 2008

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