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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The Journey of “A Good Type”: From Artistry to Ethnography in Early Japanese Photographs • David Odo

In this elegant volume, visual anthropologist David Odo examines the Peabody’s collection of Japanese photographs and the ways in which such objects were produced, acquired, and circulated in the nineteenth century.


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1890s • Japanese Women Cooking

Women Cooking

In this dramatized studio photograph of five women, the photographer has attempted to show how Japanese meals were prepared in late 19th century Japan. They are surrounded by a variety of traditional Japanese kitchen tools.

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Osaka 1910s • Prefectural Office

Enokojima Prefectural Office in Osaka

A boat passes in front of the Osaka Prefectural Office on Enokojima Island, between the Kizugawa River and the Hyakkenbori Canal. Completed in July 1874 (Meiji 7), the Neo-Renaissance style building featured an impressive dome on top. These days, Osaka’s prefectural government buildings are located in Otemae, facing Osaka Castle. But during the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) periods, it was the small island of Enokojima which performed the role as Osaka’s governmental area.

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1890s • Women Having Tea

Women in Kimono Having Tea

These five women posing in the photographer’s studio as if having tea at home look a bit forlorn. Maybe the photographer took a bit too much time?

Photographs like this one were known as Yokohama Shashin (横浜写真, Yokohama Photographs) and were geared at the tourist market.

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