OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN, a photo blog of Japan in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods

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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.
Good Book Tip
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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Good Book Tip:

The Making of Modern Japan

by Marius B. Jansen — Belknap Press
The Making of Modern Japan

A richly detailed narrative of the past four hundred years of Japanese history. Introduces the foundations of modern Japanese history and culture and uncovers the remarkable strands of continuity in Japanese society. If you are serious about Japan, this is your book.

What made Dr. Jansen —he passed away on Dec. 10, 2000, at the age of 78— such a masterful historian of Japan was his respect for Japanese culture, his neutrality and his incredibly deep and broad knowledge of his subject. Dr. Jansen wrote or co-wrote some 20 books during his life, but The Making of Modern Japan was his undisputed masterpiece. Fittingly, it was his last book and was published in the same month that he died.

The Making of Modern Japan delves into the events that created the historic 1868 Meiji Restoration, which would eventually transform Japan from an isolated feudal nation into a powerful modern state. To place these events into the right context he covers some 400 years of social, cultural and political history.

The book covers well-known leaders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu and the famous battles that they fought, the collapse of the Shogunate and the people who brought that about or tried to prevent it, but also more obscure elements of Japanese history, like the development of its society. It even delves into Japan’s headlong dive into modernization and westernization, going as far as the post-WWII period.

This is probably the most condensed, yet most in-depth history of Japan. For the casual reader, a book that will be a pleasure to return to over a period of years. For the those interested in Japanese history, a both reliable and enjoyable standard work. Informative, well-written and often also quite entertaining.

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Posted by • 2008-10-08

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