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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    While it’s true that open landscapes with lots of wild uncut nature is nearly impossible …

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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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Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Tokyo 1890s • Koganei

Sakura (cherry blossom) along the Tamagawa Waterway (玉川上水) in Koganei, Tokyo. The stretch of about 4 kilometers of cherry trees was extremely popular for hanami (flower viewing).

It is very difficult to imagine that only a century ago there was this much natural beauty in a city that now consists almost entirely of concrete and asphalt. On this photo, it is still a wide and open landscape. It’s like, “This is Tokyo? No way!” But actually, scenes like these were quite common in Tokyo during the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

According to the still existing Koganei Cherry Tree Monument (小金井桜樹碑) near Koganei Bridge, the trees were first planted here in 1737. Emperor Meiji visited Koganei in 1883 (Meiji 16), making it one of the more popular sites to do hanami in the capital.

It was a conveniently located destination because of Sakai Station (present-day Musashi Sakai) and Kokubunji Station on the Shinjuku-Tachikawa Line of Kobu Railways.

Most of the cherry trees were cut down in 1954 (Showa 29) to build the Itsukaichi Highway, the open spaces where people could sit also disappeared. Almost no cherry trees remain.

Although it appears to be a small stream, the Tamagawa Waterway was the main source of water for Tokyo until the Murayama (1927, better known as Tama Lake) and Yamaguchi (1934) reservoirs were built.

It appears to be impossible to pin down the exact location where this photo was taken, so the Google map shows just a spot on the Tamagawa Waterway Green Lane (玉川上水緑道), which follows (and mostly covers) the original Tamagawa Waterway.

Photographer: Unknown
Publisher: Unknown
Medium: Albumen Print
Image Number 70602-0002

Quote this number when you contact us about licensing this image.
You can also licence this image online: 70602-0002 @ MeijiShowa.com.

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

Duits, K. (2010, August 10). Tokyo 1890s • Koganei, Old Photos of Japan. Retrieved on 2021, Sep 28 from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/822/koganei

Posted by • 2010-08-10
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While it’s true that open landscapes with lots of wild uncut nature is nearly impossible to find in Tokyo or anywhere in most of Japan now, I will say that there is a continuous effort to preserve what’s left, even if it is constantly trimmed and controlled and not really “natural”. I happen to live really close to this area, and though I’ve never been to Tamagawa Josui in Konagei, I can say that there are still many areas near there, surrounding Tamagawa, that still have cherry trees and places for viewing. Cherry-blossom viewing is still extremely important in culture and society here so I don’t think people will ever trade it in for anything.

#000467 · Jessica Rains · 2011-03-10


Have bought Some times ago a lot of Japanse photo,s. Is it normal that The PSP’er is verry thin ?

Greetings Henk

#000618 · Henk · 2016-07-17

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