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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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan • Isabella L. Bird
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

In 1878, just 19 years after Japan opened it first ports to the world, and a mere ten years after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, an adventurous 47-year old woman from the UK set out to explore the interior of Japan. The country was virtually unknown to Westerners, and a woman traveling only with a guide seemed outrageous. Everybody advised her not to, but she went anyway and wrote this unique and vivid journal of what she saw and experienced.

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Kobe 1920s • Hyogo-Ku

Sankaku Kouen, Kobe

A view from Kobe’s Tamondori onto Sankaku Koen (literally Triangle Park) in Hyogo-ku. The road on the right is Daikaidori (大開道), the one on the left Yanagiharasen (柳原線). It lead to Hyogo Station, and still does so, today. Behind the photographer’s back is Shinkaichi (新開地), until WWII, Kobe’s main commercial and entertainment center, famous for its many theaters. Though visually unremarkable, this area is actually the birthplace of Kobe.

What we now know as Hyogo-ku, was originally the village of Hyogo, which has a long and illustrious history. The Nihon Shoki describes the founding of Ikuta Jinja in this area by Empress Jingu in 201 A.D.

Over the years, an excellent port developed. It was called Owada-no-tomari (大輪田泊) during the Nara (710–794) and Heian (794–1185) periods. Japanese embassies to China used this port as one of their points of departure.

In 1180, Taira no Kiyomori moved his grandson Emperor Antoku to nearby Fukuhara, now a red light district within walking distance from the location on the photo. Until the emperor returned to Kyoto five months later, the area effectively was the capital of Japan.

Four years later, in 1184, a major battle was fought in this area between the Taira and Minamoto clans. It was one of the final battles of the Genpei War.

During the Kamakura Period (1192–1333), trade with China and other countries made the port flourish. It was during this time that it finally became known as Hyogo Port (兵庫津).

In 1868, Hyogo Port was officially opened to foreign trade. Along with Yokohama (1859), Nagasaki (1859), Hakodate (1859) and Niigata (1869), it was one of the first open ports of Japan. The foreign settlers however, choose to build their concession across the Minato River, in the village of Kobe.

On April 1, 1889, Hyogo and Kobe became one when the city of Kobe was founded.

Things have changed quite a bit since the days of this postcard. Daikaidori doesn’t have a streetcar route on this photo, but today it is a crowded thoroughfare. Yanagiharasen, however, has become more like a side-street. Sankaku Koen still is an important public transportation hub. Underground lies Shinkaichi station where the Tozai Line of Kobe Rapid Transit Railway intersects with the Namboku Line.

Map of Kobe, 1937
1937 (Showa 12) Map of Kobe: 1. Daikaidori; 2. Yanagiharasen; 3. Sankaku Koen; 4. Shinkaichi; 5. Fukuhara; 6. Tamondori.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Sakae Shoten
Medium: Postcard
Image Number 70420-0024

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70420-0024 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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

Duits, K. (2008, July 10). Kobe 1920s • Hyogo-Ku, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Jun 19 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/299/hyogo-ku

Posted by • 2008-07-10
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