Gaze at Hand-Colored Photos of 19th Century Japan


Photography was introduced into Japan a few decades after its invention in Europe, and within a few years of the country’s re-opening to the West following Commodore Matthew Perry's arrival in Tokyo Bay in 1853. Recently, the New York Public Library digitized an album of photographs showing Japanese scenes just a few decades after Perry’s efforts.

The black-and-white images, many of them hand-colored, depict temples, houses, people, waterfalls, forests, and mountains, as well as transportation, agriculture, and entertainments such as sumo wrestling. Though the album’s provenance isn’t entirely clear, it’s part of a host of 19th century Japanese photographs the library currently cares for, many of which have also been hand-decorated with color.

According to the NYPL, some of the images in the album may have been created by the early Japanese photographer Kusakabe Kimbei, who ran a photo studio in Yokohama starting in 1881. Kimbei was a pupil of the noted early photographer of Asia Felice Beato, who set up a photo studio in Yokohama in 1863. (You can browse a wonderful interactive album of photos Beato took in Japan in the 1860s on the Getty Museum’s website.) 

And if you’re hungry for more recently digitized Japanese content from the NYPL, check out the beautiful woodcut-illustrated 1920s books of Japanese fairytales collected by the writer and translator Lafcadio Hearn. Born just a few years before Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay, Hearn was one of the first to bring Japanese culture and writings to the West. 


"Japanese Women: Cooking, Accomplishments (Music and Dance), Riding Rickshaw, Nursing, and Washing." (Click to enlarge.)

"Sumo Wrestler."  (Click to enlarge.)

"Massage, Peddlars, and a Store." (Click to enlarge.)

"Views - A Row of Houses, an Island, Harbor and Mt. Fuji."  (Click to enlarge.)

"Rickshaws and Palanquins." (Click to enlarge.)

All photos courtesy the New York Public Library.

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]

Can You Figure Out Why the Turtles Bulge in This Optical Illusion?

Ready for a little vision test? Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Kyoto-based psychologist who studies visual illusions, created this eye-bending image that appears to bulge and bend. In the image, shared on, the horizontal and vertical lines actually run straight across and down, but they look like they ripple, and the shapes (Kitaoka calls them turtles) look like they’re different shades of gray, even though they’re an identical color.

As Phil Plait explains for Syfy, the key is in the corners—the turtle “legs,” if you will. “At each vertex between turtles, they form a rotated square divided into four smaller squares," he writes. "Note how they're offset from one another, giving a twist to the vertices.” If you zoom in closely on the image, the lines begin to straighten out.

The difference in the colors, meanwhile, is a result of the contrast between the black and white pixels outlining the turtles. If the outlines of the turtles were entirely black or entirely white, instead of a combination, the grays would look identical. But the contrast between the two fools your eyes into thinking they're different.

To see more of Kitaoka’s illusion art, you can follow him on Twitter @AkiyoshiKitaoka. Then, go check out these other amazing optical illusions.

[h/t Syfy]


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