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.
Recent Comments  
  • Kjeld Duits

    Translation of the above: I am a young man from Damascus, Syria, and have heard …

  • michel

    أنا شاب من سوريا – دمشق سمعت عن تنسيق الزهور بروح الأيكيبانا وأردت أن اتعلم …

Good Book Tip
Art of the Japanese Postcard: Masterpieces fom the Leonard A. Lauder Collection • Kendall Brown et al

From the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, Japan was a vital world center for postcard art. More than just casual mail pieces, these postcards were often designed by prominent artists and had a visual impact that belied their modest format.

Buy now at Amazon!
More book tips

1890s • Women Practicing Ikebana

Two Japanese Women in Kimono doing Ikebana

Two women in kimono are practicing Ikebana (traditional Japanese flower arrangement). The woman on the left is making an arrangement in a square vase, while the other woman is using a round one. Flowers yet to be arranged are kept on a tray, while a pot with water is kept near the knees of the woman on the right.

Especially during the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) periods, many urban young women practiced Ikebana to make themselves more desirable brides-to-be, a custom that could still be observed until quite recently. But this wonderful art of flower arrangement reaches back much further in history.

It has been practiced for more than 600 years and originated in the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to Buddha. Buddhism was introduced into Japan during the 6th century. While in Buddhism’s birthplace, India, petals were strewn or flowers were placed casually, Japanese Buddhist priests developed ways to present their altar offerings in containers.

The oldest school of Ikebana is Ikenobo (池坊), which traces its origins to a buddhist priest of the Rokkakudo Temple (六角堂) in Kyoto. He was especially skilled in arranging flowers for altars and taught many other priests.

At first, Ikebana was only practiced by priests and members of the nobility, but by the late 15th century it had evolved enough to be appreciated by ordinary people.

Over the years many schools were born, all with their own fixed styles. This naturally gave birth to a large number of texts. The oldest extant manuscript is the Kao Irai no Kadensho (花王以来の花伝書) and dates from 1486.1

Kao irai no Kadensho
Kao Irai no Kadensho (花王以来の花伝書)

1 池坊。初期のいけばな。Retrieved on 2008/06/26.

2 Ikebana International (I.I.) is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of ikebana.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Unknown
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 70613-0003

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70613-0003 @ MeijiShowa.com.

Usage of this image requires a reproduction fee.
Posted by • 2008-06-27
Add Comment

أنا شاب من سوريا – دمشق سمعت عن تنسيق الزهور بروح الأيكيبانا وأردت أن اتعلم من هذا الفن الرائع فهل بالأمكان إرشادي الى مكان التعليم في بلادي
لكم مني جزيل الشكر

# michel · 2009-05-04

Translation of the above: I am a young man from Damascus, Syria, and have heard about the coordination and the spirit of Ikebana flower arrangement. I want to learn this art in my country. Thank you very much.

# Kjeld Duits · 2009-05-04

Textile help

NOTE: Your e-mail address is required, but will not be displayed.