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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Tokaido 1930 • Car on the Tokaido

Japan, Tokaido Highway about 30 Miles from Yokohama (1930).

A single car on a modernized Tokaido, the main connection between Edo (current Tokyo) and Kyoto during the Edo Period. This photo was shot in 1930, some 48 kilometers (30 miles) from Yokohama. The Tokaido’s famous scenes of countless travelers on foot soon vanished after the first railroad connection between Tokyo and Kobe was completed in the late 1880s. Although the first cars were produced in Japan during the early 1900s, and this image shows a car on the Tokaido, the condition of most roads was so bad that cars didn’t really take off in Japan until after WWII.

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Miyajima 1930 • Fishing Boats

Japan. Miyajima. Fishing Boats (1930).

Fishing Boats off the coast of Miyajima. For information about Japan’s fish industry during the 20th century, read 1890s • Fish Shop.

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Osaka 1910s • Koraibashi

Korai-bashi, Osaka

Osaka’s Koraibashi (高麗橋) was first built during the time of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). One of only 12 government controlled bridges in Osaka, it crossed the Higashi-Yokoborigawa canal, the outermost moat of Toyotomi’s massive castle, which was completed in 1598. Koraibashi was placed in such a way that the immense castle tower could be seen from the bridge. Connecting the castle grounds with the merchant district of Senba (船場), the bridge played an exceedingly important role during most of Osaka’s history.

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1920s • Having Tea

Japan. Man and Two Women Having Tea Inside Room.

Two women and a man in traditional clothing are sitting on zabuton (cushions) on tatami mats in a large room divided by fusuma (sliding doors) at what appears to be an inn. The man is warming his hands at a beautiful wooden hibachi used for keeping the water warm. The woman in the front appears to be preparing tea.

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