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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Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan • Herbert P Bix

This rich and powerful biography is now given fresh relevance with a new introduction by the author that explores how Hirohito’s legacy persists in Japan to this day, and how US foreign policy in the region in the last ten years is informed by our troubled past with Japan and with Hirohito as a ruler specifically.


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Hakone 1880s • Two Women in Bathroom

Two Women in Bathhouse

Two women are squatting next to a bath in a beautiful wooden bathroom in Hakone, a famous onsen resort. Two other popular resorts were Ikaho and Atami. The windows feature artwork and the panels above them contain gorgeous displays of woodwork. A wooden ladle rests on the marble water pail in the left corner. This photo was taken by Kusakabe Kimbei, his reflection, and that of his camera, is visible above the two birds on the left window.

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Beppu 1926 • Hot Sand Bath

(Beppu Onsen Meishou) Sunayu no Jikkyou

Thirteen women dressed in yukata are enjoying a hot sand bath in Beppu, one of Japan’s most famous onsen (hot spring) resorts.

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Beppu 1930s • Nagarekawa-dori

Nagaregawa, Beppu

Nagarekawa-dori (流川通り), looking towards the mountains. At the time of this photo, this was an important shopping street in Beppu in Oita Prefecture, which is famous for its thousands of sacred onsen (hot springs). In the early 20th century, Nagarekawa-dori was regularly featured in novels and artwork. The sister of famous author Sakunosuke Oda (1913-1947) actually opened a cosmetics shop here 4-chome in 1931 (Showa 6).

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Yokohama 1900s • Yokohama Station

Yokohama Station
Sakuragicho Station, Yokohama, 2008
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Yokohama Station was a terminal station on Japan’s very first railroad, opened on June 12, 1872 (Meiji 5). The line took passengers and freight to Shinagawa. In October it was extended to Shinbashi, connecting the port city to the very center of Tokyo. The new railroad reduced traveling time between the cities significantly. On foot it took between 10 and 12 hours. Even at the trot, a horse took 4 hours. The train took only 53 minutes. It greatly contributed to the prosperity of Yokohama, especially that of nearby Noge.

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