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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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan • Isabella L. Bird
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

In 1878, just 19 years after Japan opened it first ports to the world, and a mere ten years after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, an adventurous 47-year old woman from the UK set out to explore the interior of Japan. The country was virtually unknown to Westerners, and a woman traveling only with a guide seemed outrageous. Everybody advised her not to, but she went anyway and wrote this unique and vivid journal of what she saw and experienced.


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Osaka 1920s • Tobita Red Light District

Tobita, Osaka

This early 20th century postcard shows brothels in the Tobita Yukaku (prostitution district) of Osaka. The caption says: “The charming samisen (sic) sounding constantly day and night at Tobita prostitute quarter, Osaka.” It wasn’t very charming for the women who worked here.

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Kyoto 1926 • Kamo River

Kamo River and Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto

The Kamo river and the area around Shijo bridge in Kyoto, Japan. The photo is taken from Higashiyama-ku facing south towards Shimogyo-ku. Seen from this vantage point, the area still looks remarkably similar today.

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Osaka 1890s • Ebisubashi Bridge

Ebisubashi Bridge, Osaka

Ebisubashi (Ebisu bridge) in Osaka, Japan. View towards North Osaka, taken from the current location of the Kanidoraku crab restaurant. The large buildings on the horizon are the Buddhist temples Kita Mido and Minami Mido.

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1880s • Woman in Kago

Woman in Kago
Taxis
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Group portrait of an elegant Japanese woman in a kago (palanquin) carried by two bearers. The bearers have traditional hairstyles and clothing and are holding ikizue (breath sticks) to regulate their breathing while walking. They are wearing straw sandals. A paper umbrella is placed on the roof, the common place to put the luggage of passengers.

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