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 1880s • Matsushima Brothels

Matsushima Brothel District, Osaka

Employees stand between jinrikisha (rickshaws) parked in front of impressive brothels in Osaka’s Matsushima red light light district. Matsushima was created in 1868 (Meiji 1), nearby Osaka’s foreign settlement of Kawaguchi. The brothel district was established the following year.

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1912 • Baby Girl in Kimono

Young girl

Photo of a 1 year old baby girl in ceremonial kimono. During the early 20th century it was a very popular custom in Japan to take photographs of babies around their first birthday.

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1890s • Ceramics and Pottery Shop

Porcelain shop

Three children sit in front of a shop cramped with ceramics and pottery. Inside a boy, probably an apprentice, is using a Soroban (abacus). Lots of teapots and cups can be seen. Under the eaves large plates are on display.

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Kyoto 1920s • Shimabara Tayuu

Shimabara Tayu

A tayuu (high class prostitute) from Shimabara in Kyoto. The area was the licensed prostitution district of Kyoto. Tayuu wore gorgeous costumes that grew ever more ostentatious during the Edo period (1603-1868).

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