Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399 U.S.A.

see all slides here

In Sept. 1926 - Sept. 1927, E. Raymond Wilson, a graduate student at Cornell University, visited Japan through a Japanese Brotherhood Scholarship of $1500, awarded by a group of Japanese college students to promote Japan-U.S. relations and a more intimate understanding of the Japanese people. Upon accepting the scholarship, Wilson stated: "All of us covet the opportunity to learn more of the charming courtesy, the deep mysticism, the repose and the idealism of the Japanese. We long to view their art and architecture, to roam through their agricultural districts, to stand spell bound before their gardening, to study their commercial development, to become personally acquainted with many of their people. Many of us are eager to share with them in trying to understand the very real difficulties which beset their future.... I count it a high privilege to be one more tiny thread in the great cord of friendship that is binding together the United States and Japan and bringing closer the possibility 'that brotherhood may prevail.'" While in Japan, Wilson lived with a host family and did coursework designed for him by the Imperial University. Because of his background (he grew up on a farm in Iowa and had a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry), he also wanted to explore Japanese rural life. This led to trips around the countryside, as well as an extended five week trip in southern Japan, where he planned to visit Kobe, Nagasaki, Kyoto, Osaka, as well as to take the steamer to Formosa. As reported in his letters home, he walked about 250 miles in Formosa, visiting the Taiuals, Saisetts, Ami, Paiwans, Puyuma and Tsuou peoples in their villages. Wilson's letters and reports of his year in Japan provide fascinating glimpses into the many interesting people he met and sights that he enjoyed (available in box 1 of Series C). Unfortunately, Wilson had to leave Japan earlier than planned because of his father's final illness..

Wilson took photographs in Japan with his own camera, but also brought back many professionally-made photographs, postcards and lantern slides. Some of the same images appear in these different medium, though the tinting varies because of the different artists involved. This collection includes images taken by T. Takagi of Kobe, and by Futaba (or Futaba & Co.) of Kobe; many others are by unknown photographers. Some of the slides have captions and numbers printed on them as if they were part of a published set of lantern slides. Once the image was photographed, artists (of varying skill) were hired to tint the slides before they were processed and sold.

E. Raymond Wilson (left) with a friend, being served a meal in Japan (JLS-256)

Most of the lantern slides in this collection were most likely produced for the tourist market. Some slides were expertly tinted to create beautiful scenes of the harbors and other natural phenomena of the area.

"Inland Sea" by T. Takagi (JLS-016)
"Sarusawa Pond At Nara "
by T. Takagi (JLS-037)
"Volcano Aso" by Futaba

The slides also include a number of views of the people of Japan, some carefully posed to show off their robes, as well as the more subtle characteristics of grace, devotion and charm.

"An Afternoon Tea " by T. Takagi (JLS-058)
"Buddhist Priest " by Futaba (JLS-113)
"Japanese Children " by Futaba (JLS-118)

Other slides exhibit the arts and culture of the region, including many of temples and/or temple gates, and of schools.

"Theatrical Performance " by T. Takagi (JLS-086)
"Torii At Miyajima " by T. Takagi (JLS-010)
"Girls High School, Tokio, Daily Drill"
by unknown photographer (JLS-238)

Perhaps most unique are the slides of Formosa, particularly of the Ainu tribe.

Untitled [7 Formosan tribal men in robes] by
unknown photographer (JLS-182)
Untitled [Formosans gathered around cooking pot laid
over fire] by unknown photographer (JLS-198)

The 256 Japanese lantern slides from the E. Raymond Wilson collection were added to Triptych -- a digital image database owned by Swarthmore College, Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College -- in 2006. Many thanks to Evelyn Khoo, Mellon library intern, for her work on scanning the slides, creating the fields for the database, and entering the metadata. Many of the slides were re-scanned into a larger format partway through the project; because of the lack of time, some of the school buildings were not scanned again and are only available for viewing in a small size. Once in the Triptych database, one must click on the magnifying glass icon to bring up the larger sized images to 100%.

Keywords established for subject searching of the collection are:

Boat Scenery
Bridge Sports
Children Tea
Flowers Temple
Garden Tribes/Villages
Lake Volcano

To read about the history of lantern slides or to view similar collections of Japanese lantern slides, see:
http://photojpn.org/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=12&page=1 [click cancel when language installation window comes up]

JLS=Japanese Lantern Slide

For more information, contact the Curator, Wendy Chmielewski, at wchmiel@swarthmore.edu

This page was last updated on September 3, 2015