The Tokyo National Museum holds a collection of 20,000 photo images dating from the final years of Edo era to the Taishô era, which includes a series of images called "The Related Photographs of the Jinshin Survey." Together with the "Old Edo Castle Photographic Collection," which has been deemed as an important cultural asset, modern unique recording techniques such as photography were used in the cultural asset survey carried out at the start of the Meiji period, leaving this heritage for future generations.
The Jinshin Survey was the national cultural asset survey conducted across the whole country by the Meiji government between May and October in the 5th year of the Meiji era (1872). As the 5th year of the Meiji era was called Jinshin in accordance with the Chinese sexagenary calendrical cycle, the survey was termed the Jinshin Survey.
The survey was prompted after the order for "The Methodology for the Preservation of Relics" announced in May of the previous year by the central government and undertaken to select items to be exhibited at the World Expo to be held the following year in Vienna and to be attended by Hisanari Machida, Noritane Ninagawa, Masao Uchida from the Cultural Department and accompanied by the photographer Matsusaburô Yokoyama, painters Yuichi Takahashi, Kôkei Kishi, Masanori Kashiwagi and naturalist Tetsunosuke Kasakura.
For this survey, pictures of old temples, shrines, sculptures and treasures from Aichi, Mie, Kyoto and Nara were taken using a stereo camera and camera with a large black-box. 386 stereo pictures, 109 still images measuring 25.4 cm x 30.5 cm and 70 image negatives of the same size have been inherited by the Tokyo National Museum and became important cultural assets in the 15th year of Heisei era (2003).