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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Tokyo 1880s • Shinagawa Station

160301-0026 Shinagawa Station Tokyo 1880s

This is one of those photos that makes you look at the title in utter disbelief. But Shinagawa Station in the late nineteenth century did actually look this rural, with the waves of Tokyo Bay reaching to the very edge of the station. In those days, certainly nobody foresaw that the tiny country station would grow into today’s massive complex. It now services over three quarters of a million passengers daily, making it one of the busiest stations in Japan.

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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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