"Shayo" ("Setting Sun") is a somber, somewhat ominous photographic image created in 1914 by Hidaka Chotaro (1883-1926). It is a sepia-toned picture of a small hamlet over which loom dark mountains and the oncoming night.

A member of the amateur Nagoya-based Ai-yu Photography Club, Chotaro sought out isolated mountain and coastal landscapes to create pictorial images of traditional life in response to a question that has troubled Japan since the country started on the road of industrialization: Can its rural communities survive, culturally and economically, in the modern world?

Chotaro's style was part of a worldwide trend of creating photographic prints that resembled Victorian-era oil paintings and, as a result, was commonly used to romanticize nature and oppose modernity with nostalgia for a mythical past. "Shayo," whose title alludes to a more metaphorical decline, may not be a ground-breaking work of art in itself, but it has historical value as a representation of the anxieties of its time.