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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Photography in Japan 1853-1912 • Terry Bennett
Photography in Japan

Terry Bennett has been researching 19th century Japanese photography for over 25 years. In this masterpiece he tells us the story of photography in Japan, using 350 rare images. All the known photographers are introduced with details that you will have trouble finding anywhere else. THE best book about early Japanese photography.


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1890s • Woman in the Rain

Woman against the Wind

In this dramatized studio scene, a woman in kimono ostensibly walks in the rain holding on to her paper umbrella as the wind blows up the hem of her kimono. She is wearing geta and her hair is done in a traditional manner. The photographer has made sure that nobody can doubt the country: his backdrop shows Mt. Fuji.

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Kyoto 1930s • Buddhist Monks

Buddhist Monks

Buddhist monks walk in procession on the grounds of Tofuku-ji, a buddhist temple in Kyoto. The writing on their bags reads Daihonzan Tofuku-ji Hondo Saiken (大本山東福寺本堂再建), “reconstruction of the hondo (main hall) of Daihonzan Tofuku-ji.” They were apparently on their way to the city to collect donations for reconstruction work on the temple.

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Arashiyama 1910s • Togetsukyo

Togetsukyo, Arashiyama

Two women in kimono, protecting themselves from the rain with paper umbrellas, cross Togetsukyo (literally, bridge to the moon) in Kyoto’s Arashiyama. Mist partly obscures the mountains at the far end of the bridge and gives this image an almost mysterious feel. The bridge received its poetic name after Emperor Kameyama (1249-1305) mentioned that the bridge appeared to stretch to the moon.

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Yokohama 1900s • View from Motomachi

Bird's Eye View of Yokohama
View on Yokohama from Motomachi
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The street leading towards Maedabashi (bridge in front center) is Motomachi, home to many attractive shops. Across the bridge is Hommura Road. When you walked halfway down this road till Odawara-cho and turned left, it took you through the heart of Yokohama’s Chinatown, generally described in foreign guidebooks of the time as “malodorous.” Kaga-cho, on the top left of this photo, was known for its many warehouses and tea-firing godowns (storehouses).

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