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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Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road • Anne Lacoste, Fred Ritchin

Felice Beato (1832–1909) lived and worked in Japan from 1863 through 1884, just as the country opened its doors to the world. He was extremely active in Japan, and portrayed the Japanese with dignity and as equals of Westerners. He was the first photographer in Japan to sell albums of his works. Most likely, it was Beato that introduced the later so diligently followed concept of “views” and “types” to photography of Japan.


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Tokyo 1890s • View from Atago-yama

Panoramic View on Tokyo

A spectacular view on the city of Tokyo from Atago-yama, a hill some 26 meters above sea-level. Shops and dwellings have taken the place of the great residences of the daimyo. In the far background, the roof of Tsukiji Honganji can be seen. Beyond that is Tokyo Bay.

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Tokyo 1890s • Koamicho, Nihonbashi

Warehouses in Nihonbashi, Tokyo

Heavily loaded boats are docked in front of a long row of warehouses in Koamicho in Tokyo’s mercantile quarter of Nihonbashi. The photographer was looking towards Yoroibashi, a steel bridge built in 1873 (Meiji 6), but carefully kept it out of the image’s frame. Most probably he wanted to preserve the Edo Period atmosphere of the scene.

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Kyoto 1890s • Tea Field and Toji Pagoda

Tea Plantation and Toji Pagoda, Kyoto
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Many people who have visited Toji’s wonderful temple markets will be astounded by this rural image of tea fields with the the five-story pagoda of Toji in the background. The tea fields have long since dissapeared and the temple is now surrounded by busy roads and modern buildings.

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Osaka 1880s • Matsushima Brothels

Matsushima Brothel District, Osaka

Employees stand between jinrikisha (rickshaws) parked in front of impressive brothels in Osaka’s Matsushima red light light district. Matsushima was created in 1868 (Meiji 1), nearby Osaka’s foreign settlement of Kawaguchi. The brothel district was established the following year.

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