In 2010, an international exposition was held in Shanghai. The world's first international exposition was held in London in 1851. The Japanese people have long had deep involvements with international expositions; an embassy dispatched to Europe by the Tokugawa shogunate observed the international exposition held for the second time in London in 1862. At this international event, different Japanese items were introduced to the world by R. Alcock, the first British diplomatic representative to Japan. From the Paris International Exposition of 1867, Japan began to exhibit her items, such as art works and industrial art products, further intensifying the boom of Japonism.
The National Diet Library has collected many materials related to international expositions with deep connection to the Japanese people. Based on such collections, this digital exhibition focuses on industry and technology. More than 150 years have passed since the first international exposition, accompanied by the substantial development of science and technology. Of these 150 years, the first 50 years witnessed changes to industry through the use of steam engines and electricity. It was a period prior to the discovery of quantum mechanics, as well as the invention of wireless communication and electronics technologies, airplanes and atomic energy. These Western technologies were actively absorbed by Japan during the period spanning from the late Edo period, the early Meiji period, and the Meiji Restoration to the Russo-Japanese War.
This exhibition comprises three parts. With the title "Part 1: Expositions Held in and before 1900," the first part focuses on 11 international expositions and five Japanese national industrial exhibitions, and provides the event characteristics and visual images of the venues. This is followed by "Part 2: Industrial Technology Development—Seen from Exhibits." Featuring items exhibited at international expositions, the second part offers their explanations and visual images by category. "Part 3: Japanese Industries in the Meiji Period—Seen from Exhibits" includes visual images of the main machinery displayed at Japanese national industrial exhibitions.
This digital exhibition features many products and technologies that are no longer available today. Some people might think that science and technology are phenomena that make sudden leaps in development. However, behind these lie inventions and improvements made by many engineers. We at the National Diet Library hope that this review of the past events will provide an opportunity to recognize the importance of technological development.