Sunday, June 05, 2011

A temple bell in Kyoto, Japan

The image above, hand-dated 1905, probably depicts the bell at the Chion-in Temple, which is said to be Japan's largest. It appears to be a hand-tinted collotype; there is no dot pattern that would indicate lithography.

The card is addressed to "Mrs. Militz" at the Home of Truth in Alameda, California, presumably Annie Rix Militz, a prominent New Thought minister who had co-founded the Home of Truth that year before traveling abroad. The initials on the front also read A.R.M., so she may have mailed it home to herself as a souvenir. The stamp has been torn off, no doubt for a collector's album, obliterating with it most of what must have been the original Japanese postmark. There is no message on the back, as postal reservations at the time reserved that space for the address alone.

The Russo-Japanese War had concluded a few weeks before this card was mailed. Lafcadio Hearn had died in Tokyo one year earlier; the great San Francisco earthquake, across the bay from Alameda, still lay a few months off.

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