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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Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road • Anne Lacoste, Fred Ritchin

Felice Beato (1832–1909) lived and worked in Japan from 1863 through 1884, just as the country opened its doors to the world. He was extremely active in Japan, and portrayed the Japanese with dignity and as equals of Westerners. He was the first photographer in Japan to sell albums of his works. Most likely, it was Beato that introduced the later so diligently followed concept of “views” and “types” to photography of Japan.


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Yokohama 1900s • Tomitake Theater

70130-0017 - Tomitake Theater

Tomitake-tei (富竹亭, Tomitake Hall) on Bashamichi-dori, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, a stone’s throw from Yoshidabashi Bridge. The theater, which was active through 1912 (Taisho 1), was owned by Takejiro Takeuchi (竹内竹次郎), who ran three other yose in Yokohama.

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Kobe 1870s • View from Mount Suwa

80421-0001: View on Kobe

View of eastern Kobe from Mount Suwa during the late 1870s, early 1880s. The foreign settlement is located on the coast just out of the frame on the right.

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Tokyo 1920s • Toyama Firing Range

Toyama Shooting Practice Range

Panoramic view of the Toyama Firing Range (戸山射撃場, Toyama Shagekijo) in Okubo (大久保), Tokyo.

In 1874 (Meiji 7), what was then called Toyamagahara (戸山ヶ原) was requisitioned by the army. A shooting range for the Imperial Guard was established here in 1889 (Meiji 22).

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Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Sakura (cherry blossom) along the Tamagawa Waterway (玉川上水) in Koganei, Tokyo. The stretch of about 4 kilometers of cherry trees was extremely popular for hanami (flower viewing).

It is very difficult to imagine that only a century ago there was this much natural beauty in a city that now consists almost entirely of concrete and asphalt. On this photo, it is still a wide and open landscape. It’s like, “This is Tokyo? No way!”

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