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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Tokyo 1890s • View from Atago-yama

Panoramic View on Tokyo

A spectacular view on the city of Tokyo from Atago-yama, a hill some 26 meters above sea-level. Shops and dwellings have taken the place of the great residences of the daimyo. In the far background, the roof of Tsukiji Honganji can be seen. Beyond that is Tokyo Bay.

During the Edo Period, Atago-yama was a popular place for people to enjoy watching the moon. It was also a great place to photograph panoramic views of the city. The earliest surviving panoramic view shot from here was taken by Felice Beato in 1865 or 1866 (see below).

Felice Beato - View of Tokyo from Atago
View of Edo from Atago-yama by Felice Beato, 1865 or 1866 (detail from “Panorama of Yeddo from Otagayama”). The large estates belonged to daimyo.

Detail of "View from Atago-yama"
Detail of view from Atago-yama by Nobukuni Enami. Neighborhood shops have taken the place of the grand residences of the Daimyo.

By the time Nobukuni Enami photographed this area, the residences of the daimyo, still visible on Beato’s image, had long since been torn down or used for other purposes. But the basic lay-out was the same. Something that cannot be said anymore today.

When Edo was built, careful consideration had been made to conserve the views from the city. The direction of Edo’s main streets offered impressive views of all of the city’s scenic spots, including Atago-yama. Some other places that were clearly visible from the city were Mt. Fuji, the Musashino Plain, the Sumida River, Mt. Tsukuba, Mt. Kanda, the Yushima and Hongo Plateaus, Shinobugaoka (Ueno), the Main Enclosure and Nagatacho Plateaus, Shiba-Zojoji Urayama and Shiba Maruyama.

These days, developers have lost the wisdom of the planners of the Edo Period. Almost all the beautiful views are now obscured by high-rises.

Map of Tokyo, 1880
1880 (Meiji 12) Map of Tokyo: 1. Atago-yama; 2. Shinbashi Bridge; 3. Ginza; 4. Shinbashi Station; 5. Tsukiji Honganji

Photographer: Nobukuni Enami
Publisher: Nobukuni Enami
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 71205-0018

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Posted by • 2008-03-30
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