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Yokohama 1860s
The Fruits of Fire

On November 26, 1866, a horrifying fire devastated the young settlement of Yokohama. The fire has been largely forgotten, but it gave birth to the urban plan that still defines downtown Yokohama today.

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1907
"The Rice in Japan"

Laborers are loading bales of rice onto river barges. Photographer Teijiro Takagi published this scene in 1907 (Meiji 40) in a photo book about rice cultivation, The Rice in Japan. This article reproduces his book.

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1890s
The Secret Powers of the Japanese Doll

A five-tiered doll display for hinamatsuri, the doll festival. In this photo from the 1890s the display already looks very similar to the ones that we are familiar with today.

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1890s
14 Rules for Women

Two maiko (apprentice geisha) in gorgeous kimono bow to each other at the entrance gate to Genkyu-en Gardens (玄宮園) in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. In old Japan, the rules of etiquette were elaborate.

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1910s
Geisha Postcards

During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), the Japanese government sent postcards of beautiful Japanese women, bijin ehagaki (美人絵葉書), to soldiers to motivate them. Publishers continued to print them well into the 1920s.

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1890s
Running the Mail

This studio image of a Japanese express courier, or hikyaku (飛脚) is fake. When Kimbei Kusakabe (1841–1934) shot this scene in the 1890s, these near-naked runners had long since vanished.