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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1890s • Okosozukin and Furoshiki

Woman in Winter Clothing

In this studio photo, a woman in a thick winter kimono has an okosozukin (御高祖頭巾) wrapped around her head to protect her against the cold. In her hands she holds something wrapped in a furoshiki (風呂敷), a Japanese wrapping cloth. She is wearing geta and her hair is done in a traditional manner.

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1890s • Woman with Umbrella

Woman with Parasol

A studio photo of a woman in kimono getting her paper umbrella ready. She is wearing geta and her hair is done in a traditional manner. The photographer has made sure that nobody can doubt the country: his backdrop shows Mount Fuji.

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1890s • Cutting Tobacco

Tobacco Maker

A woman and a man in traditional Japanese clothing are cutting tobacco leaves. The man is using a machine. The woman is brushing a leave with a small hand brush. A small screen can be seen on her left. In the background, tobacco leaves are hanging from a string. Tobacco was usually smoked in a long-stemmed pipe called kiseru. Tobacco had to be cut very fine in order to smoke it in the tiny bowls of the kiseru.

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1890s • Putting on a Kimono

Women Dressing

A woman sitting on the floor is helping a woman standing up to dress. The standing woman is holding a sash with with which the kimono will be tied.

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