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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Nara 1934 • Rural Houses

Koinobori Streamers and Typical Rural Houses near Nara, Japan (May 1934).

Typical rural houses near Nara. It is late April or early May as can be seen from the Koinobori streamers fluttering in the wind in celebration of Boy’s Day on May 5.

The day is still popular and many a Japanese has nice childhood memories of singing songs like the following:

屋根より高い鯉幟 (Higher than the roof-tops are the koinobori)
大きな真鯉はお父さん (The large Black Carp is the father)
小さな緋鯉は子供たち (The smaller Golden Carp are the children)
面白そうに泳いでる (They seem to be having fun swimming)

Kintaro
Image of Kintaro on Koinobori

Often koinobori contain a drawing of the mythical folk hero Kintaro. The carp symbolizes endurance, while Kintaro was a child of superhuman strength and courage, so his image is used in the hope that the sons of the house will become equally brave and strong.

Kintaro’s story is believed to have been based on the life of a warrior called Sakata no Kintoki (坂田公時) who lived during the Heian Period (794-1185). There is a shrine, called Kintoki Shrine (公時神社 or 金時神社), dedicated to Kintaro at the foot of Hakone‘s Mt. Kintoki.

This glass slide is one of a series of slides of Japan that was used by the New York State Education Department to teach students about Japan.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: New York State Education Department
Medium: Glass Slide
Image Number: 80122-0014

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You can also licence this image online: 80122-0014 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Posted by • 2008-11-03
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