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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Recent Comments  
  • 鈴木清夫 (浅草仲見世)

    ツイッターにて紹介して行きたいので、時々借用させて下さい。文明は進化していません。変化しただけです。進化とは人間の中味だと頑なに信じています。78歳です。宜しくお願い申し上げます。

  • Kjeld Duits (Ginza and Kyobashi)

    Tokyo Electric Lighting began supplying electricity to the public in 1887. Tokyo’s horse-drawn streetcars ran …

  • Abz (Ginza and Kyobashi)

    Doesn’t this date seem early for there to be powerlines? New York had its first …

  • Harty van Engelen (Woman in Kago)

    A similar kago is now displayed at the Boso-no-Mura open air museum near Narita, which …

  • Kjeld Duits (Kakubeijishi)

    @Thomas Crane: Thank you!

1890s • Basket Craftsman

Basket Maker

A studio portrait of a young basket maker wearing a head band using bamboo to weave a basket. All around him are his bamboo products, which include draining baskets (笊, zaru), winnowing baskets (箕, ki), and noodle-draining baskets (饂飩打ち上げ篭, udon uchiage kago).

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1890s • Broom Vendor

Broom Vendor

A street vendor carrying brooms (箒) balanced on a carrying pole. To protect himself from the elements, he is wearing a broad bamboo hat, known as a bachoukasa (バッチョウ笠). Vendors like him used special calls to make potential customers aware of their arrival.

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Tokyo 1890s • Nihonbashi Fishmarket

100908-0008 - Tokyo Nihonbashi Fish Market

Boats are docked at the fish market in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district. If you’d ask someone in Tokyo about this spot now, they will most probably call it a staid business area. This is where the Bank of Japan and the Tokyo Stock Exchange are located. Many financial companies have their headquarters here. Even the department stores in this area—Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya—are seen as a bit conservative. Yet, until 1923, Nihonbashi housed a colorful and busy fish market, right next to the famous Nihonbashi Bridge.

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Shikoku, 1880s • Kotohira-gu Shrine

Kotohira-gu, Kagawa Prefecture
Kotohira-gu, Kagawa Prefecture
click to enlarge

A very rare photo of Kotohira-gu, a Shinto shrine popularly known as Konpira-san, in Kotohira, Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, popularly known as Konpira-san. Few foreign visitors made it to Shikoku during the late 19th century. As tinted photographs were usually produced for and purchased by foreign visitors, it is quite special that such an image exists of this location. Amazingly, the main shrine building seen on this image—built in 1877 (Meiji 10)—looks virtually exactly the same today. This is one of those relatively few places left in Japan where you can truly jump back into time.

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