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Friday, February 10, 2006

The Steele Collection of Early Post-War Color Photos of Japan


1945-1952 Steele Collection I went to the photo exhibition on at the headquarters of the Shinsei Bank in Shinbashi: the "1945-1952 Steele Collection". It's a collection of photos from directly after World War II, discovered in an old US soldier's - Mr Steele's - Washington attic by a Japanese guy in 1980.

They are not professional photographs, but are a selection of random shots of immediate post-war life in Japan by a number of different American servicemen. They are, however, good photos. They show the familiar faces of Japan in the unfamiliar setting of poverty.

I was struck by how upbeat and completely together everyone seemed for having just lost a war: in hindsight an attitude that must have guaranteed that they'd have few regrets a generation later.

The photos are in full color - a rarity for the 1940s, and one of the main reasons for exhibiting them. They certainly convey a lot more than if they were in black and white. There are 120 on display (from a full complement of 10,000, says the blurb), so there's plenty to keep the viewer occupied and interested for the best part of an hour.

The only downside things were the sometimes haphazard - and often plain absent - English translations of the captions, and the awful BGM: shite on a short loop.

It's on until this Sunday (14 February) at the very smart glassy headquarters of the Shinsei Bank in the Marunouchi district. Get out at either Uchisaiwaicho on the Mita subway line (exit A7) or Kasumigaseki on the Chiyoda subway line (exit C4).

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