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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Osaka 1930s • Nakanoshima Park

Nakanoshima, Osaka

Opened in 1891 (Meiji 24), Nakanoshima Park was Osaka’s very first public park. It was built on Nakanoshima, a small stretch of land that divided the old Yodo River into the Dojima River and the Tosabori River. During the Edo Period the banks of these two rivers were lined with Kurayashiki, the warehouses and residences of samurai who sold goods from their domains in Osaka. But by the end of the 19th century, the area was quickly shedding its Edo face and Nakanoshima became the focus of Osaka’s modernization.

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Hiroshima 1920s • Shintenchi

Shintenchi, Hiroshima

Until the end of WWII, Shintenchi was Hiroshima’s most energetic entertainment quarter and for a long time its most prosperous district. The area was developed by Shintenchi Co. in 1921 when it built three big theaters and many shops at the east end of Hondori. It was enlarged with East Shintenchi in 1927, which stretched from Yagembori to the edge of Nagarekawa.

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Kinosaki 1920s • Kinosaki

Kinosaki Onsen

The hot spring town of Kinosaki Onsen in northern Hyogo Prefecture has a history that reaches back many centuries. According to local legend a hot spring sprang forth in 717 A.D. after the priest Dochi-Shonin prayed here for one thousand consecutive days. The buddhist temple Onsenji was built to honor the priest and on April 23rd and 24th a festival is still held to commemorate his miraculous feat.

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Yokohama 1910s • Isezaki-cho 1-chome

Isezaki-cho, Yokohama
Isezaki-cho, Yokohama, 2008
click to enlarge

Jinrikisha (rickshaws) race down an Isezaki-cho lined with colorful advertising banners. On the right, part of Hamaya Shoten can be seen, one of several shops in Yokohama selling postcards like this one. One store removed from Hamaya is the tabi (Japanese socks) wholesale store of Okadaya. On the left side of the street was the location of the bookstore Yurindo. Founded in 1909 (Meiji 42), the company is now a major book store chain and one of Japan’s larger publishers. It still has its headquarters in Isezaki-cho.

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