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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Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912 • Donald Keene

When Emperor Meiji began his rule, in 1867, Japan was a splintered empire, dominated by the shogun and the daimyos, who ruled over the country’s more than 250 decentralized domains and who were, in the main, cut off from the outside world, staunchly antiforeign, and committed to the traditions of the past. Before long, the shogun surrendered to the emperor, a new constitution was adopted, and Japan emerged as a modern, industrialized state.


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Kobe, 1906 • New Year Celebrations 13

New Year Celebrations

Several men perform shishi-mai (lion dance) in the courtyard of a shrine. The performers would also dance in front of the homes of the parishioners as a charm against evil spirits and disease, and to pray for good fortune. Shishi-mai probably entered Japan around the 8th century after Japanese diplomats and priests encountered them in China. They are still performed today and it is believed that some 9,000 different variations of shishi-mai exist. This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. Original text:

To the accompaniment of a flute and a drum, the “lion dance,” is being given; but the “lion” is a two-legged one, somewhat weaker than the “King of the forest.”1

See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.


In this interesting clip the lion hands out tangerines using its mouth

1 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.

Photographer: Kozaburo Tamamura
Publisher: Kozaburo Tamamura
Medium: Collotype Print
Image Number 80115-0037

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 80115-0037 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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Reference for Citations

Duits, K. (2009, January 1). Kobe, 1906 • New Year Celebrations 13, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2020, Jul 14 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/670/new-year-celebrations-13

Posted by • 2009-01-01
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