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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Hiroshige & Eisen. The Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaido • Andreas Marks, Rhiannon Paget

The Kisokaido route through Japan was ordained in the early 1600s by the country’s then-ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu, who decreed that staging posts be installed along the length of the arduous passage between Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto. Inns, shops, and restaurants were established to provide sustenance and lodging to weary travelers.


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1890s • Threshing Rice

Farmer's Couple Clearing Rice (Photo by Kozaburo Tamamura)

A woman is threshing rice stalks with a Senbakoki (千歯扱き, threshing machine), while a man is carrying straw bags balanced on a pole. In the back drying rice plants can be seen, it was customary to dry freshly cut rice plants before threshing commenced.

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1890s • Welcoming a Guest

Customer Arriving at Ryokan

Personnel welcomes an arriving customer at a Ryokan (Japanese inn) by sitting on the floor and bowing deeply. A scene that can still be seen in Ryokan all over Japan today.

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Arashiyama 1890s • Floating Logs

Floating Logs at Togetsu Bridge, Arashiyama, Kyoto

Floating logs in Arashiyama, Kyoto. In the back, the Togetsukyo can be seen. The bridge marks the point where the river changes its name from Hozugawa into Katsuragawa, further upstream it is called Oigawa. The river flows through a breathtaking gorge called Hozukyou, or Rankyou.

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Kyoto 1890s • Kamogawa

Kamo River in Sanjo, Kyoto

A beautiful view of restaurants and inns along the Kamogawa (Kamo River) in Kyoto. This photo was most probably taken from Sanjo Ohashi. The bridge in the back is probably Nijo-hashi. Kamogawa was extremely important to the inhabitants of Kyoto as can be seen from the many stairs on the riverbanks which offered easy access to the river. Besides being a crucial source of drinking water, the river brought much needed relief during the hot summer months.

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