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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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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Tokyo 1920s • Hanayashiki, Asakusa Park

Hanayashiki at Asakusa Park, Tokyo

Asakusa Park was to Meiji Tokyo what Shibuya is today, a place for the middle and lower class masses to go and amuse themselves at low cost. Hanayashiki was the top crowd puller here. Opened as a flower park in 1853 by a gardener named Rokusaburo Morita, it soon began its amazing transformation into an amusement center with tea shops, entertainment and animal exhibits.

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Osaka 1890s • Dotonbori Theater Street

Dotonbori Theater Street, Osaka

Dotonbori (also: Dotombori) seen towards the east. The crowded and lively street was filled with teahouses (shibai-jaya), restaurants and theaters. During the Meiji Period, the five main theaters were called the Dotonbori Goza. One of them was Asahiza, the building in the background with the yagura wooden stage. This photo is thought to have been taken shortly after Asahiza was renovated in 1890.

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