Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review of "Japan As Photographed by Werner Bischof"

Review of
Japan As Photographed by Werner Bischof

Four out of five stars
 From the day when American Commodore Perry sailed into Edo Bay and demonstrated that the United States would force Japan into greater openness to the world, the Japanese leaders understood that it was necessary to rapidly modernize the country. Perry’s visit was followed by the Meiji restoration, where the Emperor was re-declared as the ruler of the country. This led to a crash program of modernization and industrialization of Japan, so effective that they resisted colonization and defeated Czarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Although Japan became a modern industrial state, much of the feudal ways remained until World War II.
 Thoroughly defeated in World War II, Japan was forced to rise from the ashes of incredible devastation to an even more modern industrial state. This book contains a series of photos with explanations of events, buildings and cultural actions in Japan of the 1950’s. Amidst the growing strength of Japanese economic power, there are many remnants of the feudal traditions of the country. Relatively simple actions such as the serving of tea and the arranging of flowers are elaborate rituals, requiring years of training and practice.
 Palaces, religious objects, actors in the complex Japanese theater and people going about their daily business are just some of the items that have been photographed. Short explanations of all of them are given, they are generally necessary for a complete understanding of the meaning of the image. For a quick look at Japan in the late fifties, there is no book better than this one.

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