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 1910s • Hattori Building, Ginza

Ginza, Tokyo
Wako Building on Ginza, Tokyo
click to enlarge

Two streetcars pass by the Hattori Building in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza. Carts are parked under the verdant trees. This classic tree-lined avenue with buildings only three floors high is utterly different from the Ginza that we know today. The only thing that is remotely similar is the existence of a clock tower. Now there is one on Wako Department Store (和光, see left – click to enlarge).

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1890s • Woman in Kimono

Woman in Kimono

A woman in kimono with traditional Japanese hairstyle poses in a studio.

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1910s • Woman with Handkerchief

Woman with Handkerchief

A young Japanese woman in kimono and traditional hairstyle is holding a handkerchief to her chin. This postcard was published sometime between 1907 and 1918. During the early 20th century, picture postcards of bijin (beautiful women) were extremely popular in Japan.

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1890s • Woman in the Rain

Woman against the Wind

In this dramatized studio scene, a woman in kimono ostensibly walks in the rain holding on to her paper umbrella as the wind blows up the hem of her kimono. 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 Mt. Fuji.

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