International Exchange
Come on, latter-day Hikomas!

The “Ueno Hikoma Award” of the “Kyushu Sangyo University Photo Contest” was established in 2000 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of KSU. This contest bears the name of Ueno Hikoma (1838-1904), “the father of Japanese photography” who studied photography from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period. The aim is to find and nurture young photographers who dream of making photography their profession.

Each year over 2000 photographs from all over the country are entered in the contest. From among them the award winners are chosen, including the “Ueno Hikoma Award” with its one million yen prize. Exhibitions of the award winning photos held at the Kyushu Sangyo University Museum, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography have caused quite a sensation. The Kyushu Sangyo University Photo Contest has grown each year, and we have great hopes for its continued success in the future.
It was Ueno Hikoma who took my picture!

The distinctive man in this photo is Sakamoto Ryoma, a progressive leader near the end of the Edo period. It was Ueno Hikoma (1838-1904), the “father of Japanese photography”, who took this photo. He was a pioneering photographer in Japan. After studying chemistry at Nagasaki Igaku Denshusho (Nagasaki Medical Institution), he learned photography from Mr. Rosch, a French photographer. Then, in 1862, the 2nd year of the Bunkyu period, he opened Ueno Satsueikyoku (Photo Studio Ueno), the first photo studio in Japan. Many famous people, including Sakamoto Ryoma, Katsu Kaishu and Takasugi Shinsaku, went there, and the studio became famous. His photos convey many important historical images to our modern world.
Ueno Hikoma, the son of Ueno Shunnojo, was born in Gin-ya machi, Nagasaki. His father was a scholar of Western studies and was famous for producing potassium nitrate and for making calico. Additionally, the Ueno family had painted portraits for generations. While Hikoma was learning chemistry from the Dutch navy surgeon Pompe, he became interested in photography and began studying it as
well. Finally, his commercial and artistic success led him to be called the “father of Japanese photography.”
In the 7th year of the Meiji period(1874), he took a picture of Venus, the first photograph of a planet taken in Japan. Furthermore, in the 10th year of Meiji(1877), he took a picture of the Seinan War, the first photograph of a battle site in Japan.
His work was outstanding, but above all, he is best remembered for his picture of Sakamoto Ryoma.


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