They are a general rarity in all photos from the 1860s Edo-Bakumatsu-era photographs, until they suddenly and ubiquitous appear everywhere in the 1930s "Bromide" images of movie stars --- emulating the same "Hollywood Look" of the West.

However, for the average personal and studio work --- including groups, portraits, and commercial work --- smiles during the last 20 years of the late-Meiji era turn up in a ratio of about ONE SMILING PHOTO per every 200-300 NON-SMILING PHOTOS.

The smiling rarities in this Flickr set are culled from the mountains of otherwise straight-laced, serious, and sometimes emotionless faces of 100 years ago.

Keep in mind that in real life, the Japanese were as smiling as any other people. However, they were generally taught to "get serious" when in front of a camera --- the camera being regarded with superstition and suspicion by more than a few Japanese, especially the elderly.

However, as those old superstitiions faded, you will find more and more smiles among the young and old alike !

Also keep in mind that generally speaking, the WEST was just as non-smiling as the EAST --- a thorough review of old portraits and group shots from North America and Europe shows that they are no different than Japan when it came to smiling in front of the camera.

In fact, I challenge anybody who says "....The Japanese never smile in the old pictures...." to come up with a similar set of 1860-1910 happily smiling photos of WESTERNERS to match the ones I have here !

I only have 120 in this set.... but, they are pulled out of a special box of over 400 "Smiling Photos" of old Japan --- 400 smiles out of about 8000 such postcards in my collection (one smile postcard for every 20 postcards in my total postcard collection) --- and those 8000 or so that I have were "cherry picked" from over 1,000,000 old Japanese postcards that I have looked at over the past 30 year.

It was fun putting these "smiley" photos together, where --- at least in this Set --- the exception is the rule !

Enjoy !

* NOTE : Since starting this Set, I have added a few images contributed by TERESE AJER --- credited at the posts. Thanks, Terese !
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