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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Recent Comments  
  • Kjeld Duits

    Especially now with the cherry blossom!

  • Chris

    I’m taking classes near there, and it’s still beautiful….

Kobe 1910s • Hyogo Kencho

Hyogo Kencho
Hyogo House
click to enlarge

Two jinrikisha (rickshaw) pullers stand in front of Hyogo Kencho, the building for the Prefectural Government of Hyogo in Kobe, capital of Hyogo Prefecture. Hyogo Port was among the first ports to open for trade with Western countries and it soon embraced everything Western. The city boasted countless Western style buildings, among which Hyogo Prefectural Office.

Japanese architect Hanroku Yamaguchi (1858-1900) designed Hyogo Prefectural Office in the French Renaissance style. It was completed in 1902 (Meiji 35). This postcard shows the building some time between 1907 (Meiji 40) and 1918 (Taisho 7).

Hyogo Kencho was built on the location of the residence of former Dutch consul Korthals, who was known to have had a very large estate. Japan Chronicle founder and editor Robert Young wrote in the newspaper’s 1918 jubilee edition about a nostalgic visit that Korthals made to his former home:

“Even before there was much building on the Settlement, foreigners began to erect bungalows on the Hill. One of the earliest was erected by Mr. Korthalls (or Korthals), head of the Dutch Trading Society and also Dutch Consul, who built a bungalow on the site where the Kencho now stands, to which was attached an extensive garden now bisected by the road called Shimoyamate-dori.

In later years the bungalow and grounds passed into Japanese hands, and the building was used as a commercial museum, the present Kencho Building ultimately being erected in the compound.

Some years ago Mr. Korthalls (or Korthals) returned to Japan for a visit, when he sought and obtained permission to cut some roses from a bush planted by his wife and still preserved in the Kencho grounds.”1

Intensive US firebombing during WWII left only the outside walls standing, but it was restored to its former glory after the end of the war. It is now known as Hyogo House (兵庫県公館) and used for meetings, conferences, commemorations and welcoming VIPs.

Hyogo Kencho 1891
1891 (Meiji 24) Map of Kobe: 1. Hyogo Kencho; 2. Sannomiya Station

Hyogo Kencho 1929
1929 (Showa 4) Map of Kobe: 1. Hyogo Kencho. On this map Sannomiya Station is still in its old location. It was moved to its current location on October 10, 1931. The old Sannomiya Station was reopened in 1934 as Motomachi Station.

1 Young, Robert (1918). Japan Chronicle: Jubilee Number 1868-1918.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Sakaeya Shoten
Medium: Postcard
Image Number 71203-0004

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 71203-0004 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Posted by • 2008-04-08
Add Comment

I’m taking classes near there, and it’s still beautiful….

# Chris · 2008-04-10

Especially now with the cherry blossom!

# Kjeld Duits · 2008-04-10








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