British Pathé’s Japanese Archives Now Available Online

Among these short films made in the 19th and 20th century are a large number of historic videos shot in Japan.


WordsClémence Leleu

Still from the video ‘Japanese Lifestyle (1950-1959)’ found in the British Pathé archives.

British Pathé has made its archives available online on its Youtube channel. Over 85,000 current events films and documentaries made by Pathé News and shot between 1896 and 1976 are now accessible for free. Among this wealth of archival material, primarily in black-and-white, are various historic films that allow viewers to discover Japan over the course of almost a century. 

‘This new channel has been created as an alternative to what exists currently, and aims to appeal to a specialist audience such as history fanatics, followers of the royal family, cinema lovers and train enthusiasts’, the company explains.


Images of life in another time

Viewers can discover the hanami celebrations of 1928, where we see a compact crowd trying to use their upturned paper umbrellas to catch beans thrown by monks among the cherry blossom; moments in Japanese culture in the 1960s, such as a geisha dance performance; or the Tokyo suburbs seen through train windows before finally reaching the coast, where women set about opening oysters once the boats have gone into port.

These short video fragments, just a handful of minutes long, also closely document the daily life of the imperial family (weddings, walks as a family, addresses). British Pathé additionally shows Japan at war, after the bombings and during the arrival of the Americans. Then, on a totally different note, the channel also presents cartoons, like the adventures of Felix the Cat in Japan.


The British Pathé archives are available on its Youtube channel.