Hand colored photographs capture Japanese life during the Meiji Period

 
 
 
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Every once in awhile, whilst browsing through the vast digital archive that is Flickr, we stumble upon something downright gorgeous. Take today, for instance, when we somehow found ourselves gazing in awe at this vast, colorful collection of Japanese photos from the Meiji Era. The photo collection in question was taken in 1890 by the prominent Japanese photographer Kusakabe Kimbei.

The photographs offer a hypnotic, dreamy glimpse into the everyday life of Japanese living in the Meiji Era.

 

A family group
A family group

The Meiji period extended from 1868 to July 30th, 1912. It was the period of the first half of Empire of Japan, during which society rapidly evolved into its modern form from being an isolated feudal system. In the Meiji Era, Japan saw significant changes to its social structure, economy, internal politics, and foreign relations. This was also the period when, for the first time in centuries, Japan was opened to visitors and Western Trade.

 

A street of shops
A street of shops

 

an-informal-afternoon-tea

 

Clothing shop
Clothing shop

 

Cutting leaf tobacco
Cutting leaf tobacco

 

Dancing girls
Dancing girls

 

Farmers wearing rain coats
Farmers wearing rain coats

The Meiji era saw public discourse on Japan’s direction flourish. Journalists and politicians debated the best way to blend the new influences from Western culture and merge them with the Japanese culture. The upper class quickly adapted many aspects of Victorian taste.

 

Feeding chickens
Feeding chickens

 

Geisha or singing girls
Geisha or singing girls

 

Girls performing historical dance
Girls performing historical dance

 

Japanese actor
Japanese actor

 

Kago bearers
Kago bearers

The Meiji Era saw the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Japan. The Japanese government vowed to catch up with the West, building improved roads and railroads and preparing the country for further development. A Western-based education system was inaugurated, allowing thousands of young students to travel in the United States and Europe. Around 3,000 Westerners were hired to teach mathematics, science, and foreign languages in Japan.

 

Maker and repairer of samisens
Maker and repairer of samisens

 

Mother and child
Mother and child

 

Peony garden
Peony garden

 

Picking tea
Picking tea

 

Porcelain and pottery shops
Porcelain and pottery shops

 

Reviewing of members of the fire department
Reviewing of members of the fire department

 

Sleeping accomodations for two
Sleeping accommodations for two

 

Teaching songs
Teaching songs

 

Theatrical performance
Theatrical performance

 

Boys playing kotoro 1890
Boys playing kotoro 1890

 

Pilgrim priests with portable shrine
Pilgrim priests with portable shrine

 

Tub maker 1890
Tub maker 1890

With the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912, this period of progress and modernization in Japan ended. The Meiji era was succeeded by the Taishō period upon the accession of Emperor Taishō to the throne.