The last of the Samurai: Beautiful hand-colored photographs of the warriors and their courtesans

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When photographer Felice Beato arrived in Japan in 1863, he found the country in the midst of civil war. After spending over two hundred years in seclusion, Japan was being forced by the Americans—under a mission led by Commodore Matthew C. Perry—to expand its trade with the west. The country was divided between the Tokugawa Shogunate in Edo and the Imperial Court based in Kyoto. Over the next decade, a period known as the Bakumatsu, Japan was riven as the Imperial order gradually took control. The key moment came when the samurai of the Chōshū and Satsuma provinces defeated the Shogunate in 1867, which led to the restoration of imperial rule under Emperor Meiji.
 Beato was an Anglo-Italian, born in Venice in 1832, and raised in the British protectorate of Corfu. He learnt his trade under the renowned photographic pioneer James Robertson, with whom he traveled to Constantinople documenting many British imperial wars fought in Crimea, India and China. Beato’s skill saw him (along with his brother Antonio) hailed as one of the century’s leading photojournalists.
In 1862, Beato sold most of his photographic work and invested the money in the London Stock Exchange, where it was quickly lost. The following year, he decided to quit England and start out on a new adventure, this time to Japan. On his arrival in Yokohama, Beato set-up a business with English artist Charles Wirgman, who drew sketches and engravings based on Beato’s photographs. Travel was dangerous in Japan, with many of the Shogunate samurai warriors killing westerners—in Edo the American legation was burned to the ground and westerners threatened with death. On one occasion, Beato escaped such a fate after declining a tour of Kamakura with two Imperial officers, who happened across two masterless samurais (or ronin) and were beheaded. However, through his contacts in the military, Beato did manage to travel to many of the secluded areas of the country, where he documented the last years of feudal Japan.

Among his first photographs were the portraits of the Satsuma samurais, who happily posed for him. In one group portrait, four samurais symbolically show their strength and ambition by presenting themselves with one standing samurai holding a red book of English literature and one seated with an unsheathed knife—highlighting their hold on western knowledge and their strength in Japanese tradition. As travel became restricted because of the civil war, Beato opened a studio back in Yokohama, where he photographed many samurai warriors and their courtesans.

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H/T the Guardian

One of the most spectacular bridge collapses in U.S. history occurred in Western Washington.


The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, nicknamed "Galloping Gertie," fell into the sound during a windstorm on November 7, 1940. The bridge's collapse was a lesson in poor design and engineering.

Luckily, no was killed or seriously hurt in the incident. One dog did die.

Public Pee [via Nina Reznick]


(Credit: Screenshot, Hyphae Design Laboratories)

What do you do when the entire population of a city has no problem just going to the bathroom on the street? You could try a public urination ban, but as San Francisco has learned, those are hard to enforce.

Your other option is to just go with it. That’s the philosophy behind the PPlanter, from Oakland, Calif.’s Hyphae Design Laboratory. A “rapidly deployable, reconfigurable public urinal and sink,” the PPlanter makes peeing in public much easier and far less smelly — plus, it doubles as a bamboo garden.

GizMag explains how it works:

    A user steps up and pees into the actual urinal itself, with their mid-section hidden by a privacy panel (disposable funnels are provided for women, so they can do their business standing up). When they’re done, they use a foot pump to draw water from an attached reservoir through the faucet of a built-in sink, allowing them to wash their hands.

    Once it’s gone down the drain, the used wash water rinses out the urinal, with the urine and water then carried into an airtight tank. From there, the mixed liquid is pumped into the planter/biofilter, where bamboo plants are growing in a mixture of rocks, wood chips and styrofoam. The water, nitrogen and phosphorous are used by the bamboo, while bacteria living in the growing medium break down carbohydrates and protein. There is reportedly little if any smell.

Reposted from Salon.com


Fun OLD PHOTOS [via Cacciatore]



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Greyhound in 1923.


A balancing act atop the Empire State Building in 1934.

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The Dalai Lama at age 2 in 1937.
 
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The London Underground in 1890.

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Paul McCartney takes a selfie in 1959.





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Smuggling beer during prohibition sometime between 1920 and 1933.



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Illuminated tires invented by Goodyear in 1961.