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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Nagasaki 1910s • Taking on Coal

70216-0042  -Taking on Coal

A crowd of harbor workers load high quality Kyushu coal onto a US army transport ship in Nagasaki. As soon as ships entered Nagasaki Harbor, hundreds of men, women, girls and boys swarmed around them on coal barges, built temporary structures, and started to load the hungry ships with coal.

The spectacle was popular entertainment for the passengers. For hours and hours on end the coal loaders would work like an efficient piece of machinery often dressed in very simple clothing. In summer, many wore nothing more than loin cloths and head bands as protection from the burning Kyushu sun.

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Tokyo 1920s • Manseibashi Station

Manseibashi Station, Tokyo

Streetcars nearby Manseibashi Station in Tokyo as seen from Sudacho. The station, opened on April 1, 1912 (Meiji 45), was designed by architect Kingo Tatsuno (1854-1919).

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1890s • Two Women Sleeping

Two Women Sleeping

A studio photo of two women sleeping in wadded futon bedding with their heads on wooden head supports. It must be Winter as they use two layers for both mattress and cover. There is an ando lamp near their heads. A folding screen illustrated with flowers and birds stands behind it. Near their feet is a hakohibachi (brazier encased in a wooden box) with a tetsubin (iron hot water kettle).

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Tokyo 1890s • Koamicho, Nihonbashi

Nihonbashi, Tokyo

Boats are docked in front of a long row of warehouses in Koamicho in Tokyo’s mercantile quarter of Nihonbashi. Ogawa was looking towards Yoroibashi, a steel bridge built in 1873 (Meiji 6), which can be seen in the far right of the image.

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