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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Art And Artifice: Japanese Photographs Of The Meiji Era • Sebastian Dobson, Anne Nishimura Morse, Frederic Sharf
Art And Artifice

A brief introduction to Meiji-era photographs and to the world in which they flourished. Three essays and dozens of images explore the social function of these photos, their remarkable artistry, and the personal stories of those who collected and preserved these images.

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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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Yokohama 1900s • Nogemachi-dori

Noge, Yokohama
Nogemachi, Yokohama
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A small boy looking straight into the photographer’s lens, a man pulling a cart, a shopkeeper sticking his head out of his shop to look down a street full of shops. This simple scene, immortalized by an anonymous photographer on a day in the early 1900s, shows a street that once was Yokohama’s main route of entry, Nogemachi-dori.

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