Nara meisho saikenzu

Detail form Nara meisho saikenzu, 1890

Japanese rare materials related to travel

The Japanese collection boasts a large collection of prints from the 17th through the mid-20th century. Reflecting the newly widespread availability of printing technology, the earliest of these prints tend to be locally-produced, rough, black-and-white images of temple-shrine complexes (pilgrimage being one of the few permissible forms for travel at the time). With time, color begins to brighten these souvenirs pictures and changes in printing technology give them more detail and precision. The later images of temples and shrines provide visual evidence of the effort to separate Shinto from Buddhism that began in the late 19th century. This collection of travel-related prints also reveals the importance of other destinations, such as hot spring resorts (onsen), as well the tenacity of this format, which is adopted by modern companies to advertise their goods. 


Regan Murphy Kao

Dr Regan Murphy Kao

Director, East Asia Library
Head of East Asia Library Special Collections
Curator for Japanese Collections