Important Cultural PropertyPhotograph Album of the former Edo Castle

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  • Edited by Ninagawa no Noritane
  • 1 folding book
  • Albumen paper
  • Meiji 4 (1871)
  • Tokyo National Museum

This is a collection of documentary photographs of the former Edo Castle created by Ninagawa Noritane (1835 - 82), Junior Recorder (Shoshi) of the Central Government of the Restoration (Dajokan-ryoshi), in Meiji 4 (1871) with the cooperation of photographer Yokoyama Shozaburo and artist Takahashi Yuichi. These photographs were printed by a wet plate collodion process, which not only had an advantage in photosensitivity over early photographic processes such as Daguerreotype and Calotype but was easy to use. As albumen paper was used as the printing paper, the pictures were sharp and had better keeping qualities and thus it was widely used by photographers of the time. It can be found that this collection used albumen paper made in France from "No68BFKRives" debossed on the lower left end of Picture No. 31 "Picture of Jubako-yagura (a double-layer turret) and Nakanowatari-mon (Nakanomoriwatari Gate) of the Inner Keep of Edo Castle". Two thick pieces of cardboard are jointed side by side to form an independent "Cho" comprising four pages and thus this collection is comprised of sixteen cho in total, i.e., sixteen-four pages. On each page a printed quarter photograph is mounted. The thirty-two pieces of cardboard are wrapped with a cloth cover wrap to make the collection look like an album. The photographs are numbered from one to sixty-four (major points from the center of the castle to each lookout place are covered), written by Ninagawa with a black pen. For major buildings and places, notes were written by him on each picture. Thin coloring is applied to all the pictures by Takahashi Yuichi. The two maps, i.e., the "Map of Tokyo (Tokyo-no-zu)" and the "Map of Tokyo Castle (Tokyo-jo-no-zu)" are pasted on the front and back of the flyleaf, on the latter of which the signature and inscription "These photographs were taken in Meiji 4 in the older Yin Metal-Sheep year; Ninagawa Noritane" as well as a U-shaped square vermilion seal are affixed. The purport of taking these photographs is understood by a copy of the document of request submitted to the Central Government written by Ninagawa, which is put on the flyleaf, saying "By keeping the record of the state before being ruined, it would benefit future generations to review the state at the time." In addition, Ninagawa, Yokoyama and Takahashi investigated the treasures of old temples and shrines in Nara and Kyoto and the Shosoin Imperial Repository in Meiji 5 (1872; Yang Water Monkey Year Investigation) and left many documentary photographs. This fact indicates that keeping records by taking photographs was proven to be more effective for the preservation of cultural properties through the compilation of this collection. Indeed, the target of this collection had initially recognized cultural properties. In terms of the prompt adoption of photographs for recording them, this collection is valuable not only in the history of Japanese photography, but also as the starting point of modern cultural properties preservation. It was designated in June 27, 2000 (Heisei 12)