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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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan • Isabella L. Bird
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

In 1878, just 19 years after Japan opened it first ports to the world, and a mere ten years after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, an adventurous 47-year old woman from the UK set out to explore the interior of Japan. The country was virtually unknown to Westerners, and a woman traveling only with a guide seemed outrageous. Everybody advised her not to, but she went anyway and wrote this unique and vivid journal of what she saw and experienced.


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Kobe 1910s • Kobe City Hall

70301-0020 - Kobe City Hall

Kobe City Hall was located next to the Local District Court, on the former grounds of Hachinomiya Jinja, a shinto shrine. It was Kobe’s second City Office and completed in 1909 (Meiji 42).

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Osaka, 1905 • Yodoyabashi Bridge

70219-0003 - Yodobashi Bridge

Yodoyabashi bridge, Osaka. The building on the left is the Osaka branch of the Bank of Japan, located on Nakanoshima island. It was designed by Tokyo University Professor Tatsuno Kingo, and completed in January 1903.

What makes this postcard especially interesting is the arch in the back.

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Nagasaki 1910s • Taking on Coal

70216-0042  -Taking on Coal

A crowd of harbor workers load high quality Kyushu coal onto a US army transport ship in Nagasaki. As soon as ships entered Nagasaki Harbor, hundreds of men, women, girls and boys swarmed around them on coal barges, built temporary structures, and started to load the hungry ships with coal.

The spectacle was popular entertainment for the passengers. For hours and hours on end the coal loaders would work like an efficient piece of machinery often dressed in very simple clothing. In summer, many wore nothing more than loin cloths and head bands as protection from the burning Kyushu sun.

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Tokyo 1920s • Manseibashi Station

Manseibashi Station, Tokyo

Streetcars nearby Manseibashi Station in Tokyo as seen from Sudacho. The station, opened on April 1, 1912 (Meiji 45), was designed by architect Kingo Tatsuno (1854-1919).

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