Shima Ryū/Ryū Shima* (1823-1900)
Ryū, maiden name unknown, was a Japanese artist and pioneering woman photographer born in Kiryū (now Gunma Prefecture).
She moved to Edo (now Tokyo) to study at an art school. During her time she met her husband to be, Shima Kakoku, when he was studying the same subjects. They married in 1855 and shortly afterwards started travelling around the Kantō region, where they may have exhibited their works as they went.
Ryū took what is the earliest known photograph to be created by a Japanese woman in 1864, and it was a wet-plate of Kakoku, her husband. The negative is on deposit at the Tojo Museum of History and a wet-plate remains in the Ryū family archives. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has an albumen print.
They had a photographic studio in Edo from about 1865 to 1867. Kakoku died in 1870 and Ryū returned to Kiryū and opened her own studio where she worked until she died in 1900.
By Hannah Ahmed
*Traditionally, family names come first in Japanese, as they do in China and Korea. But beginning in the late 19th century, Japanese began adopting the Western custom of putting the given name first and family name second, at least when writing their names in English.