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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Yokohama 1910s • Isezaki-cho 2-chome

Isezaki-cho, Yokohama
Isezaki-cho, Yokohama 2008
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A large crowd strolls through Yokohama’s lively Isezaki-cho on a hot summer afternoon. Many people can be seen holding umbrellas. Perhaps to ward off the stinging rays of the sun. The big white building on this postcard is Shintomitei (新富亭), a theater famous for rakugo and magic shows. In 1922 (Taisho 11) it was bought by the large theater company Tokyo Yoshimoto.

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1920s • Ainu Chief


Ainu chiefs played an important role in their society. Each Ainu village was administered by three hereditary chiefs. Interestingly, they were not allowed to judge criminals. This function was performed by other members of the community.

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Arashiyama 1880s • Togetsukyo Bridge

Togetsu Bridge, Arashiyama, Kyoto

A man is fishing while women in kimono cross Togetsukyo (literally, bridge to the moon) in Kyoto’s Arashiyama. The buddhist temple Horinji can be seen on the hillside at the far end of the bridge. The bridge received its poetic name after Emperor Kameyama (1249-1305) mentioned that the bridge appeared to stretch to the moon.

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Tokyo 1890s • View from Atago-yama

Panoramic View on Tokyo

A spectacular view on the city of Tokyo from Atago-yama, a hill some 26 meters above sea-level. Shops and dwellings have taken the place of the great residences of the daimyo. In the far background, the roof of Tsukiji Honganji can be seen. Beyond that is Tokyo Bay.

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