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Historical Photos of Rural Japan

Written on January 7, 2012

It’s hard for many people to believe that some of the boro garments and textiles on my webshop were actually made as late as the mid-twentieth century.  The photos presented here were taken by anthropologist John W. Bennett who was conducting research in Allied occupied Japan during the years 1948-1951.
The voluminous photos he shot in this brief span of time were conceived as a book.  Bennett’s words:  “The book has several identities. It is, first, a personal and photographic memoir of a unique episode in the author’s career. It is, as well, a report–but sans professional details–of a unique experiment in social analysis and research. And it is–at least to some extent–a picture of Japan after the Pacific War and before the country experienced its full national revival. The present book could be considered a last report in the series produced by the Research in Japanese Social Relations Project at The Ohio State University, funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Rockefeller Foundation.”
This portfolio of photos shows rural Japan, although Bennett documented the urban environment and also shot important cultural sites during his stint in Japan.For those of you familiar with Japanese farm clothing, these photos are an invaluable glimpse into the daily life of old Japan, and it’s startling to realize these images are less than 70 years old.By all means visit John W. Bennett’s website which is hosted by Ohio State University.  Bennett’s photographic prints, negatives, and documentary material  have since been donated to The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University.


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