support this research
70606-0004 - Japanese Kago Bearers and Customer Taking a Break

Kago Bearers Taking a Break

Artist Unknown
Publisher Unknown
Medium Albumen Print
Period Meiji
Location Outside
Image No. 70606-0004
Purchase Digital File

During a break, two kago bearers smoke kiseru pipes while their customer is being served tea by a waitress from a teahouse.

The woman’s luggage is tied to the roof of the kago. During the Edo Period, (1603-1868) only samurai were allowed to ride horses, while horse carriages were unknown. The kago therefore was Japan’s main mode of transportation until the invention of the jinrikisha (rickshaw) around 1868.

The jinrikisha quickly replaced the kago in the cities (Tokyo for example had already some 56,000 jinrikisha in 18721), but its use continued in mountainous areas where the jinrikisha was often not practical.

The kago customer would squat in a semi-recumbent posture. Japanese were used to this, accustomed as they were to sitting on the floor. But to many foreign visitors, the kago was a painful experience about which they often complained in their diaries.

See another image of a kago at 1880s • Woman in Kago.


1 March, Roger (2007). How Japan Solicited the West: The First Hundred Years of Modern Japanese Tourism. University of New South Wales, 2.


Leave a Comment

Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). 1890s: Kago Bearers Taking a Break, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on June 25, 2022 (GMT) from

I have a small favor to ask

Old Photos of Japan aims to be your personal museum for Japan's visual heritage to increase our understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Finding, acquiring, scanning, restoring, researching and conserving these vintage images, and making the imagery and research freely available online, takes serious time, money and effort.

I do this without charging for access, selling user data, or running ads.

Your support helps to make this possible, and ensures that this important visual heritage of Japan will not be lost and forgotten.

If you can, please consider supporting Old Photos of Japan with a regular amount each month. Or become a volunteer.

Thank you,
Kjeld Duits

support this research

Explore More


Kobe 1900s
View from Aioibashi

A steam locomotive pushes wagons on the Tokaido railway line. The photographer was standing on Aioibashi bridge, a railway overpass, looking east with his back towards Kobe Station.


Fish Shop

Two young men are relaxing in a fish shop. Fish has always been an important part of the Japanese diet and was sold both at shops and by fish peddlers (furiuri) who walked around carrying fish in tubs that hung from a carrying pole on their shoulder.


Ainu Fishermen

Four Ainu fishermen stand in log boats, two of them holding spears as if ready to catch fish. Fish was, together with venison and other game, a very important part of the Ainu diet.

Add Comment

There are currently no comments on this article.