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 • Nakanoshima Park

Nakanoshima, Osaka

Opened in 1891 (Meiji 24), Nakanoshima Park was Osaka’s very first public park. It was built on Nakanoshima, a small stretch of land that divides the old Yodo River into the Dojima River and the Tosabori River. During the Edo Period the banks of these two rivers were lined with Kurayashiki, the warehouses and residences of samurai who sold goods from their domains in Osaka. But by the end of the 19th century, the area was quickly shedding its Edo face and Nakanoshima became the focus of Osaka’s modernization.

On the side of the island not shown in this photograph, one after the other Western style building rose from the ground.

Osaka’s premier Western hotel, the Jiyutei Hotel opened in Nakanoshima in 1881 (Meiji 14). In 1895 (Meiji 28) it was renamed the Osaka Hotel. It boasted electric light, steam heating as well as English speaking personnel.1

The Neo-Renaissance Osaka branch of the Bank of Japan was built here in 1903 (Meiji 36). The building was designed by Kingo Tatsuno, famous for his design of Tokyo Station.

The Neo-Baroque Prefectural Library was constructed on the island in 1904 (Meiji 37). It was built with a donation from the Sumitomo family.

In 1918 (Taisho 7), the Central Public Hall was completed right behind the library. The funds for this Western building were also donated. By Einosuke Iwamoto (1877-1916), who had made a fortune in the stock market during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Shortly after he donated the money, he lost his fortune and committed suicide.

Nakanoshima also became the home of Osaka’s brand new City Hall, built between 1918 (Taisho 7) and 1921 (Taisho 10).

This building fever continued for many years, and has recently returned. Development is once again gripping Nakanoshima. A brand new subway connection, the Keihan Nakanoshima line, is opening in 2008 and the area both on and around the island is witnessing a true construction boom. This includes, among others, shopping malls, apartment towers and two skyscrapers which will house the offices of Asahi Shimbun, a concert hall and more.2

Nakanoshima Park, Osaka, 1922
1922 (Taisho 11) Map of Osaka: 1. Oebashi; 2. Osaka City Hall; 3. Yodoyabashi (Yodoya Bridge); 4. Dojima River; 5. Hokoku Jinja (A shinto shrine honoring Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was built in 1879 and moved to Osaka Castle in 1961); 6. Tosabori River; 7. Prefectural Library; 8. Central Public Hall; 9. Naniwabashi (Naniwa Bridge); 10. Nakanoshima Park; 11. Tenjinbashi (Tenjin Bridge).

1 Metadata database of Japanese old photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period, Osaka Hotel. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.

2 The Asahi Shimbun. Osaka Nakanoshima New Buildings Project. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Taisho Hato
Medium: Postcard
Image Number 70116-0007

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You can also licence this image online: 70116-0007 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Posted by • 2008-04-07
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