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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1890s • Two Women Sleeping

Two Women Sleeping

A studio photo of two women sleeping in wadded futon bedding with their heads on wooden head supports. It must be Winter as they use two layers for both mattress and cover. There is an ando lamp near their heads. A folding screen illustrated with flowers and birds stands behind it. Near their feet is a hakohibachi (brazier encased in a wooden box) with a tetsubin (iron hot water kettle).

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Tokyo 1890s • Koamicho, Nihonbashi

Nihonbashi, Tokyo

Boats are docked in front of a long row of warehouses in Koamicho in Tokyo’s mercantile quarter of Nihonbashi. Ogawa was looking towards Yoroibashi, a steel bridge built in 1873 (Meiji 6), which can be seen in the far right of the image.

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1890s • Women Washing

Women Washing

Another studio image portraying housework, in this case the washing of kimono. Some of the women have their sleeves pulled up with cords.

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1890s • Woman Cooking

Woman Cooking

In this studio photo of daily kitchen work, a woman wearing a hakkaburi (headwear) is grinding something in an earthenware suribachi (mortar). Daikon (radish) and a knife lay on the mainata (wooden board). Next to the mainata is a meshibitsu (rice tub). On the other side is an oke (wooden bucket) and a kago (reed basket).

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