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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Nagoya 1880s • Nagoya Castle

Nagoya 1880s • Nagoya Castle

A beautiful image of Nagoya Castle. You can see the donjon at the honmaru (inner citadel) and a small tower. The buildings in the foreground form part of the honmaru palace. The structures on the ends of the roof are golden shachihoko (金鯱), a mythical animal with a dolphin body and a lion head that protects the building from fire.

This image is extremely valuable because it shows what Nagoya Castle looked like during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), before many buildings were destroyed by the Mino-Owari Earthquake of 1891 (Meiji 24), or torn down.

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Tokyo 1880s • Asakusa Theaters

Asakusa, Tokyo

From the late 19th century on, Tokyo’s Asakusa Park was a park in the modern sense, an amusement park. This is where the masses went to enjoy themselves. The park was filled with theaters, restaurants, unlicensed brothels, and once movies had reached Japan, scores of cinemas. Asakusa Park pretty much remained Tokyo’s main entertainment district until well into the 20th century, even surviving the devastation of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 (Taisho 12).

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Yokohama 1890s • Grand Hotel

70330-0034 - Grand Hotel, Yokohama

The Grand Hotel opened on August 16, 1873 (Meiji 6) and was soon considered the height of Western culture and elegance in Japan. It was located on the Bund and overlooked Yokohama Harbor.

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Yokohama 1900s • Samurai Shokai

70314-0030: Yokohama 1900s • Samurai Shokai

Antique and art dealer Samurai Shokai at Honcho 1-20 in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. It sold silk, porcelain, lacquerware, jade, cloisonné, damascene and more.

The company, established by Yozo Nomura (1870-1965) in 1894 (Meiji 27), was one of the most respected dealers in Japan. It even offered financial support to traditional craftsmen, such as silversmiths and lacquer artists, so they could produce high quality products.

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