Shima Kakoku

Visual Artist

1827 – 1870


Who was Shima Kakoku?

Shima Kakoku was a pioneering Japanese photographer and artist. He was born in modern-day Tochigi Prefecture. Possibly inspired by his father, who was an avid painter, in 1847 he entered an art school in Edo where he met Ryū, a fellow student. The two married in 1855 and soon began moving about the Kantō region, possibly exhibiting their works along the way. At this time Shima seems to have had some pictures published as book illustrations. At some point the couple learned photography, and in the spring of 1864 Ryu photographed Kakoku, thereby creating the earliest known photograph by a Japanese woman. A wet-plate print of this portrait remains in the Shima family archives. The Shimas operated a photographic studio in Edo in about 1865 to 1867, until Kakoku accepted a teaching position at Kaiseijo. Later, Shima worked at Daigaku Tōkō, and while there invented the first Japanese movable type, for the printing of medical textbooks. Shima Kakoku died in 1870, and his wife returned to Kiryū where she opened her own photographic studio.

We need you!

Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!


on July 23, 2013


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Shima Kakoku." STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 28 May 2022. <>.

Discuss this Shima Kakoku biography with the community: