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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Osaka 1930s • Central Wholesale Market

Osaka Central Wholesale Market

A panoramic view of the Osaka Central Wholesale Market in Osaka, which played a major role in establishing a stable food market in Osaka and surroundings.

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Yokohama 1910s • Yokohama Pier

70206-0006 - Yokohama Pier

People in Japanese and Western style dress walk on the pier in Yokohama Harbor. A steamship can be seen in the back, spewing black smoke from its smokestack. The red brick building in the back housed the Yokohama Customs Office Inspection Bureau and was built in 1894. It was designed by Japanese architect Yorinaka Tsumaki (1859-1916), who also designed Yokoahama Shokin Ginko (1904) and the famous Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse (1911).

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Tokyo 1890s • Streetcar in Ueno

Ueno Park Hill, Tokyo

This photograph displays Tokyo’s most popular transportation modes during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), horse drawn streetcars and jinrikisha (rickshaws). A small family is stepping out of the streetcar, most probably on their way to visit the new Ueno Park, a favorite attraction during this period.

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Tokyo 1890s • Geisha Houses, Shinbashi

Shinbashi Geisha Houses, Tokyo

In the late Edo period (1603-1868), Yanagibashi, nearby the Ryogoku bridge, was Tokyo’s main geisha district. The advent of the Meiji era (1868-1912), however, brought a new elite, more focused on money and power, who showed little interest in the traditional values of Yanagibashi. They favored the geisha quarter of Shinbashi (also Shimbashi). It was situated close to the new government and office buildings that were springing up like mushrooms, neighboring the rebuilt and thriving Ginza, and lay right on the doorstep of Tokyo’s main train station, Shinbashi station, opened in October of 1872 (Meiji 5).

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