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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1900s • Woman Touching Hairpin

Young Woman in Kimono

A young Japanese woman in kimono and traditional hairstyle is touching her hairpin. This postcard was published sometime before 1907. During the early 20th century, picture postcards of bijin (beautiful women) were extremely popular in Japan.

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1890s • Women in Travel Wear

Two Women

A studio photo of two women dressed up for travel. They are holding canes and have towels wrapped around their head. Their kimonos are tied up for easier movement. The photographer has made sure that nobody can doubt the country: his backdrop shows Mount Fuji.

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1890s • Woman Carrying Charcoal

Woman Delivering Charcoal

A very cheerful woman, with one of her breasts exposed, is carrying three huge packs of charcoal on what appears to be a country road. During the summer, women in the countryside often had much of their body exposed when they worked. Many men wore only a loincloth. Even in the city. This was especially the case for laborers and poor farmers.

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1890s • Women at Kotatsu

Two Women at a Kotatsu

Two women are sitting at a kotatsu, a low, wooden table with a heat source covered by a futon. One of the women is reading. Next to her is an andon lamp. It looks really cozy. You can imagine it is a cold day and that there is a little cat all curled up under the table in the warm comfort of the heater.

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