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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Nara 1934 • Rural Houses

Koinobori Streamers and Typical Rural Houses near Nara, Japan (May 1934).

Typical rural houses near Nara. It is late April or early May as can be seen from the Koinobori streamers fluttering in the wind in celebration of Boy’s Day on May 5.

The day is still popular and many a Japanese has nice childhood memories of singing songs like the following:

屋根より高い鯉幟 (Higher than the roof-tops are the koinobori)
大きな真鯉はお父さん (The large Black Carp is the father)
小さな緋鯉は子供たち (The smaller Golden Carp are the children)
面白そうに泳いでる (They seem to be having fun swimming)

Kintaro
Image of Kintaro on Koinobori

Often koinobori contain a drawing of the mythical folk hero Kintaro. The carp symbolizes endurance, while Kintaro was a child of superhuman strength and courage, so his image is used in the hope that the sons of the house will become equally brave and strong.

Kintaro’s story is believed to have been based on the life of a warrior called Sakata no Kintoki (坂田公時) who lived during the Heian Period (794-1185). There is a shrine, called Kintoki Shrine (公時神社 or 金時神社), dedicated to Kintaro at the foot of Hakone‘s Mt. Kintoki.

This glass slide is one of a series of slides of Japan that was used by the New York State Education Department to teach students about Japan.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: New York State Education Department
Medium: Glass Slide
Image Number 80122-0014

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 80122-0014 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Reference for Citations

Duits, K. (2008, November 3). Nara 1934 • Rural Houses, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, May 18 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/455/rural-houses

Posted by • 2008-11-03
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