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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Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People • William W. Fitzhugh et al
Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

Japan’s indigenous people, the Ainu, inhabited Hokkaido, the Kurile Islands, southern Sakhalin Island, and a portion of northern Honshu. They had a unique culture and language, completely separate from that of the Japanese. By the middle of the 19th century, the destruction of this ancient culture was set in motion by Japan’s national government.

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Beppu 1930s • Nagarekawa-dori

Nagaregawa, Beppu

Nagarekawa-dori (流川通り), looking towards the mountains. At the time of this photo, this was an important shopping street in Beppu in Oita Prefecture, which is famous for its thousands of sacred onsen (hot springs). In the early 20th century, Nagarekawa-dori was regularly featured in novels and artwork. The sister of famous author Sakunosuke Oda (1913-1947) actually opened a cosmetics shop here on 4-chome in 1931 (Showa 6).1

The street was named after a river that used to flow here before it was covered. This river was also known as Nagorikawa (名残川). A stone monument (石柱) referring to Nagorikawa-bashi (Nagorikawa Bridge) can still be found in the area, but the river has faded from most people’s memory.

The history of Beppu reaches far back. As early as the Edo Period (1603-1868), the area boasted eight hot springs and by the end of that period ryokan had already been established along the highway.

Beppu Port was built in 1872 (Meiji 5) and greatly contributed to the growth of the town. Development especially took off around the end of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Over the years the city would grew into one of Japan’s most famous onsen resorts.

Especially after the end of WII, the city became a popular destination for school excursions and honeymoons.

Beppu has the largest number of hot spring sources in Japan and can claim ten of the eleven types of hot springs that can be found throughout the world. In terms of volume of hot water it is surpassed only by Yellowstone in the USA.

The city offers an amazing array of baths, such as sunayu (sand baths), mushiyu (steam baths) and the world world largest open-air heated mud bath (doroyu). Not surprisingly, the baths play an important role in people’s lives.

Please note that the Google Map shows the location of the street and not the location of the photographer.


1 Viento ~おおいたの風~ 2003年10月 Vol.1。おおいた文学紀行:別府流川文学。2008年5月1日検索。

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Unknown
Medium: Postcard
Image Number 70116-0010

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70116-0010 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Reference for Citations

Duits, K. (2008, April 27). Beppu 1930s • Nagarekawa-dori, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Dec 06 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/150/beppu

Posted by • 2008-04-27
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