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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  • G. Gervais-Macwilliam

    I have an original book “Harunobu by Yone Noguchi” in very good condition – Published …

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Hiroshige & Eisen. The Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaido • Andreas Marks, Rhiannon Paget

The Kisokaido route through Japan was ordained in the early 1600s by the country’s then-ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu, who decreed that staging posts be installed along the length of the arduous passage between Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto. Inns, shops, and restaurants were established to provide sustenance and lodging to weary travelers.

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Yokohama 1890s • Bentendori

Bentendori, Yokohama

Festival lanterns cheer up the business district of Bentendori 2-chome and 3-chome in Yokohama. During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), this was Yokohama’s premier shopping street. Foreign visitors came here to buy porcelain, curios, ivory, silk and photographs. The photographer of this very image, Kimbei Kusakabe, actually had a studio on this street between 1881 and 1889. Later Nobukuni Enami, Kozaburo Tamamura and others set up shop here as well. Japanese shoppers loved to come here, too, to shop for imported items. In the background is the clock tower of the watch and clock merchant Kawakita Naozo Shoten (河北直蔵商店), for many years the street’s most important landmark.

Unfortunately, the exotic amalgamation of Japan and the Western world that existed on Bentendori was forever destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Now it is a boring street with unimpressive buildings and very little to do.

Kimbei Kusakabe shot at least two versions of this image. The first one was shot before the clock tower seen in the background was built. After the clock tower’s construction in 1894 (Meiji 27), Kusakabe went back to the original location and shot the same image again, giving the photo the same number as the original. In other words, he actually updated his view of this street to correspond with the real-world situation.

Photographer: Kimbei Kusakabe
Publisher: Kimbei Kusakabe
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 70219-0019

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70219-0019 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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

Duits, K. (2008, September 26). Yokohama 1890s • Bentendori, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Dec 06 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/418/bentendori

Posted by • 2008-09-26
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I have an original book “Harunobu by Yone Noguchi” in very good condition – Published Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd – Yoshikawa Benten-Dori, Yokohama 1940 – Printed and made in Japan Wood engraving by S. watanabe, Tokyo Plates in Colour by the Kikuchi Sanshoku-Koba Tokyo etc etc.
Could you help me – I would like the book to return to Japan for history.

#000462 · G. Gervais-Macwilliam · 2011-01-31

Textile help

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