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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A Career of Japan: Baron Raimund Von Stillfried and Early Yokohama Photography • Luke Gartlan

A Career of Japan is the first study of one of the major photographers and personalities of nineteenth-century Japan. Baron Raimund von Stillfried was the most important foreign-born photographer of the Meiji era and one of the first globally active photographers of his generation. He played a key role in the international image of Japan and the adoption of photography within Japanese society itself.


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Yokohama 1873 • Bentenbashi and Station

Bentenbashi and Yokohama Station
Bentenbashi, Yokohama, 2008
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Bentenbashi (Benten Bridge) and Yokohama station. The train tracks are hidden behind the buildings, but some freight cars are visible on the shunting yard on the right. The hill in the background is Nogeyama, location of Iseyama Kotaijingu, a shinto shrine, and Noge Fudo, a buddhist temple. At the time, Nogeyama was a popular residential area for wealthy merchants. The station was the starting point for the railroad connection to Tokyo.

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1890s • Fruit Store

Japanese Fruit Store

Two men and several children in a fruit store. Although this store seems extremely well-stocked, fruit was not as big a part of the Japanese diet as it is today. Commonly eaten were mikan, melon, kaki (persimmon), biwa (loquat), nashi (pear), plum, apricot, peach and apple. In spite of the countless cherry trees, cherries were rare. As were strawberries and most other berries.

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1890s • Vegetable Store

Japanese Vegetable Store

The owner of a vegetable store is holding a very large kabu (蕪, turnip). He appears to specialize in apples though, considering the large number that are displayed. Burdock, radishes, mustard leaf and onions can be seen in front of him. Panels on the eaves are cleverly used to protect the produce from the sunlight.

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1890s • Meiji Funeral

Funeral in Meiji Period

A huge funeral crowd has assembled around a hearse in a city that appears to be Tokyo or Osaka. The banner reads: “Kiku, the deceased mother of the Ishibashi family.“ Meiji Period funeral processions were usually large and expensive affairs. It was said that two deaths within the same family over a short period of time could bankrupt that family. Criticism by social commentators and a rapidly changing society—especially cars pushing people off the streets—would eventually doom these ostentatious affairs.

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