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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The Adventure of Japanese Photography 1860 - 1890 • Philipp March, Claudia Delank
The Adventure of Japanese Photography 1860 - 1890

Some 90 old photographs of Japan by celebrated photographers like Felice Beato, Adolpho Farsari, Hikoma Ueno, Kimbei Kusakabe, Kihei Tamamura and Kazumasa Ogawa. A true treasure.


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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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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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