Magic Lantern Slides Collection

There are about 1,500 magic lantern slides in the UHM Japan Collection, and these were the gifts of two donors: the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai 国際文化振興会 (KBS), a predecessor of the present Japan Foundation 国際交流基金, and the family of the Reverend Takie Okumura 奥村多喜衛(1865-1951).

In 1930s, KBS (1936-1972) actively created lantern slides and distributed them to institutions around the world to help educate about Japan. The records indicate (Gregg Sinclair Papers, UH Archives & KBS documents, JF Library) that 682 lantern slides were sent to the University of Hawaii. In 1999, 466 of the slides on this site were found at the house of Prof. Yukuo Uyehara 上原征生, who had helped Dr. Tasuku Harada 原田助 at the beginning of the UH Japanese program in 1920 and later became a Japanese language and literature instructor in 1933.

We thank the Japan Foundation for granting us permission to digitize and share the surviving lantern slides. The KBS slides were digitized to show the frame and scripts on the slide rather than to show the images, which are well known architectures and arts in Japan. Therefore, the images can sometimes appear blurred. Our intention is to share these forgotten slides to remind of KBS’s historical efforts and contributions to educate about Japan. The description of each slide has been taken from a 5-volume catalog published by the KBS, “The Japanese arts through lantern slides.” The romanization was kept as appeared in the original catalogs.

For many years, the origin of over 1,000 slides was a mystery. In 2006, a letter dated March 2, 1963, to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Y. Okumura (a grandson of Rev. Takie Okumura) was discovered (UH Archives), that thanked them for their donation to the Library. Among the gifts were “a trunk and two trays containing 4x3 1/4 glass slides…” Rev. Takie Okumura was an educator, spiritual leader and founder of the Makiki Christian Church (1904) in Honolulu. He also established the Okumura Boys and Girls Home (1901). The Okumura slides consist of slides produced in Meiji明治, world trip photos, orphanages and orphans in Japan, and many pictures must yet be identified. We hope posting these images will stimulate comments and new information. For more information and studies on the lantern slides in Japan: Iwamoto, Kenji, “Gento no seiki: Eiga zenya no shikaku bunkashi,” Tokyo: Shinwasha, 2002. 「幻燈の世紀 : 映画前夜の視覚文化史」岩本憲児著。東京 : 森話社, 2002.2.

Learn more about the Collection

Collection Items