OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN, a photo blog of Japan in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods

Old Photos of Japan
shows photos of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s. In 1854, Japan opened its doors to the outside world for the first time in more than 200 years. It set in motion a truly astounding transformation. As fate would have it, photography had just been invented. As the old country vanished and a new one was born, daring photographers took photos. Discover what life was like with their rare and precious photographs of old Japan.

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Kobe 1870s • View from Mount Suwa

80421-0001: View on Kobe

View of eastern Kobe from Mount Suwa during the late 1870s, early 1880s. The foreign settlement is located on the coast just out of the frame on the right.

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Tokyo 1920s • Toyama Firing Range

Toyama Shooting Practice Range

Panoramic view of the Toyama Firing Range (戸山射撃場, Toyama Shagekijo) in Okubo (大久保), Tokyo.

In 1874 (Meiji 7), what was then called Toyamagahara (戸山ヶ原) was requisitioned by the army. A shooting range for the Imperial Guard was established here in 1889 (Meiji 22).

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Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Sakura (cherry blossom) along the Tamagawa Waterway (玉川上水) in Koganei, Tokyo. The stretch of about 4 kilometers of cherry trees was extremely popular for hanami (flower viewing).

It is very difficult to imagine that only a century ago there was this much natural beauty in a city that now consists almost entirely of concrete and asphalt. On this photo, it is still a wide and open landscape. It’s like, “This is Tokyo? No way!”

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Nagoya 1880s • Nagoya Castle

Nagoya 1880s • Nagoya Castle

A beautiful image of Nagoya Castle. You can see the donjon at the honmaru (inner citadel) and a small tower. The buildings in the foreground form part of the honmaru palace. The structures on the ends of the roof are golden shachihoko (金鯱), a mythical animal with a dolphin body and a lion head that protects the building from fire.

This image is extremely valuable because it shows what Nagoya Castle looked like during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), before many buildings were destroyed by the Mino-Owari Earthquake of 1891 (Meiji 24), or torn down.

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