OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN, a photo blog of Japan in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods

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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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Utsunomiya 1890s • Panoramic View

View on Utsunomiya

View on Utsunomiya, (宇都宮市), the capital of Tochigi Prefecture. The photographer most probably looked south-east from Futarayama Shrine (二荒山神社). Utsunomiya prospered as a temple town before it became a castle town and subsequently a town for accommodations along the Oshu Kaido highway, connecting Edo (current Tokyo) with Mutsu Province in the North, and the Nikko Kaido, which connected Edo with Nikko. The town was destroyed during the Boshin War (a civil war fought from 1868 to 1869) and once again during WWII. As the majority of the photographs during the Meiji Period were created for sale to foreign visitors, this image of a town that didn’t attract that many of them is quite special. Early English language travel guides only mention the city as a station on the way to the very popular tourist attraction of Nikko.

An exception is An Official Guide to Eastern Asia, published in 1914, which attributes a full page to the city. The list of principal buildings the guide presents, gives an excellent image of Japan’s rapid modernization: the Prefectural Office, City Office, Post-Office, Experimental Farm, Meteorological Station, Headquarters of the 14th Division, Chamber of Commerce, Tochigi Agricultural and Industrial Bank, Utsunomiya Bank, Shimotsuke Bank, Shimotsuke Electric Motor Co., Shimotsuke Paper-Mill Co., Shimotsuke Shimbun, Shimotsuke Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, Yashu Nippo.1

Notice the common usage of Shimotsuke, which is the name of the old province that became Tochigi Prefecture. Shimotsuke Province was abolished when the Japanese prefectural system was established in 1871 as part of the early reforms of the Meiji Period (1868-1912).


1 (1914) An Official Guide to Eastern Asia: Vol. III North-Eastern Japan. The Imperial Government Railways, 317.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Unknown
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 70606-0002

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70606-0002 @ MeijiShowa.com.

Usage of this image requires a reproduction fee.
Reference for Citations

Duits, K. (2008, November 13). Utsunomiya 1890s • Panoramic View, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Oct 26 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/285/utsunomiya

Posted by • 2008-11-13
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