In the 1850s and ‘60s, Japan gradually loosened the restrictions on foreign trade and visitors which had isolated it for centuries.
Western travelers and technologies began to flow in through a handful of ports, including Yokohama, where photographers such as Felice Beato opened studios to introduce photography to Japan.
Suzuki Shin’ichi was one of the first Japanese to take up the trade. He apprenticed in the studio of Yokohama photographer Shimooka Renjō, and in 1872 he was commissioned by Scottish publisher to J.R. Black to create a series of photos for The Far East, a magazine catering to expats in the burgeoning port city.
Knowing his audience’s taste for images of exotic, “timeless” Japanese culture, Suzuki produced a series focusing on rural life and occupations, featuring peaceful poses, traditional costumes, idyllic environments and delicate hand-coloring.