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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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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1930s • Kimono, but Modern Hairstyle

Woman in Kimono

While this woman still wears a kimono in this studio photo, her hairstyle is thoroughly modern. This is very likely to have been an omiai photograph. At omiai (お見合い), two single people are introduced to each other to consider marriage. Around the time that this photo was taken, some 70% of Japanese marriages were established through omiai.1

The practice was started among samurai during the 16th century to establish and cement alliances among clans. It later spread to other social classes.

After the end of WWII, the custom of omiai was slowly but surely overtaken by a new custom: love marriages (恋愛, renai). However, even today, between 10 and 30% of Japanese marriages are still born out of omiai.

For more information about modern Japanese women, see 1930s • Woman with Modern Hairdo.


1 古き良きお見合い. お見合いの歴史を紐解く. Retrieved on 2009-05-04.

2 Professor’s House. Arranged Marriages in Japan. Retrieved on 2009-05-04.

Photographer: T.G. Ariga
Publisher: T.G. Ariga
Medium: Silver Gelatin Print
Image Number 80130-0002

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 80130-0002 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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

Duits, K. (2009, May 5). 1930s • Kimono, but Modern Hairstyle, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Sep 26 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/696/woman-in-kimono-and-modern-hairstyle

Posted by • 2009-05-05
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Hello. I am in need of information about this picture. I would like to know the details of when and where this photo was taken. If it is still possible to contact the actual person who took this photo, would it be possible to please give me his contact details. Thank you.

#000545 · Marjorie Hornibrook · 2013-09-03

@Marjorie Hornibrook: Thank you for your interest in MeijiShowa. Can you tell me why you would like this information?

#000546 · Kjeld Duits · 2013-09-03

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