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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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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1930s • Two Sisters

Two Young Girls

Two sisters. Hand tinted Showa period photograph of the late 1930s from the Hanaya Kanbei Studio in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture. These two cute girls are actually this famed photographer’s daughters.

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Osaka 1930s • Naniwa Bridge

Naniwabashi, Osaka

Naniwa Bridge in Osaka, Japan. The bridge spans the Old Yodo River and was completed in 1915. Naniwa Bridge was, and still is, well known for its lampposts and stone statues of lions. It featured impressive stone steps leading to Nakanoshima Island and Nakanoshima Park. It still stands and is one of the oldest Western style bridges in Japan.

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Yokohama 1910s • Yoshidamachi-dori

Yoshidamachi, Yokohama
Yoshida-cho, Yokohama
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People pass by shops on a quiet Yoshidamachi-dori. On the right is a drug store advertising goodies like Chujoto women’s herbal supplement tea, bedbug extermination and industrial use chemicals. Sounds like a fun store to visit. Although quiet on this postcard, Yoshidamachi-dori was actually perfectly located and a popular street to go shopping.

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