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 1-chome

Isezaki-cho, Yokohama
Isezaki-cho, Yokohama, 2008
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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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Yokohama 1910s • Isezaki-cho 2-chome

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

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

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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