Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Digitalization of 30,000 historic photos under way at imperial palace"

From today's Japan Today:

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency has been promoting a project to digitalize some 30,000 old photographs, taken mainly during the Meiji period (1868-1912), the agency said Friday. Some are more than 100 years old and are fading and deteriorating.

Many of the images are landscape photos taken by professional photographers who accompanied Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) to visit various provincial areas. Emperor Meiji, who reigned between 1867 and 1912, is the great-grandfather of incumbent Emperor Akihito.

The agency plans to preserve the original photos and release the digitalized images to the public through the Internet, officials said.

They also include many photos of natural disasters, such as the 1888 eruption of the 1,818-meter Mt Bandai in Fukushima Prefecture that claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

One palace official said Emperor Meiji gave compensation to disaster victims after looking at those photos which were the only source of information for the monarch in the absence of radio and television.

There are also photos of Tomioka Silk Mill in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, and the old Shimbashi railway station in Tokyo.

The Tomioka Silk Mill is known as Japan’s oldest modern silk-reeling factory established in 1872. The Gunma prefectural and Tomioka city governments have been making efforts to put it on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.


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