Vintage: Japan in the late XIX Century (Meiji period, 1870s-1880s)

Vintage: Japan in the late XIX Century (Meiji period, 1870s-1880s)


In 1869 The Emperor was restored to nominal supreme power, and the imperial family moved to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo (“eastern capital”). However, the most powerful men in the government were former samurai from Chōshū and Satsuma rather than the Emperor, who was fifteen in 1868. These men, known as the Meiji oligarchs, oversaw the dramatic changes Japan would experience during this period. The leaders of the Meiji government, who are regarded as some of the most successful statesmen in human history, desired Japan to become a modern nation-state that could stand equal to the Western imperialist powers.

The Meiji government abolished the Neo-Confucian class structure, and replaced the feudal domains of the daimyōs with prefectures. It instituted comprehensive tax reform and lifted the ban on Christianity. Major government priorities included the introduction of railways, telegraph lines, and a universal education system. The Meiji government promoted widespread Westernization and hired hundreds of advisers from Western nations with expertise in such fields as education, mining, banking, law, military affairs, and transportation to remodel Japan’s institutions. The Japanese adopted the Gregorian calendar, Western clothing, and Western hairstyles.

Imaichi road in Nikko, ca. 1880

Imaichi road in Nikko, ca. 1880

Iris garden, Horikiri in Tokyo, ca. 1870

Iris garden, Horikiri in Tokyo, ca. 1870

Kasuga-taisha shrine in Nara, ca. 1880

Kasuga-taisha shrine in Nara, ca. 1880

Mount Fuji from Kawaibashi, ca. 1870

Mount Fuji from Kawaibashi, ca. 1870

Mount Fuji seen from Otome pass, ca. 1890

Mount Fuji seen from Otome pass, ca. 1890

Mount Fuji, ca. 1870

Mount Fuji, ca. 1870

Narabi-jizo statues of Kan-man path near Nikko, ca. 1880

Narabi-jizo statues of Kan-man path near Nikko, ca. 1880

Noge hill in Yokohama, ca. 1870

Noge hill in Yokohama, ca. 1870

A greengrocer, ca. 1880

A greengrocer, ca. 1880

Omotemon (Nioh) Gate in Nikko, ca. 1880

Omotemon (Nioh) Gate in Nikko, ca. 1880

Children playing kotoro, ca. 1890

Children playing kotoro, ca. 1890

Sacred Bridge at Nikko, ca. 1880

Sacred Bridge at Nikko, ca. 1880

Shinkyo, sacred bridge of the Futarasan jinja, ca. 1870

Shinkyo, sacred bridge of the Futarasan jinja, ca. 1870

Shinto shrine of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, ca. 1880

Shinto shrine of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, ca. 1880

Stone lantern in Kasuga shrine, Nara, ca. 1880

Stone lantern in Kasuga shrine, Nara, ca. 1880

Three young dancers, ca. 1870

Three young dancers, ca. 1870

Threshing rice, ca. 1880

Threshing rice, ca. 1880

Toshogu shrine in Nikko, ca. 1870

Toshogu shrine in Nikko, ca. 1870

Transplanting rice, ca. 1880

Transplanting rice, ca. 1880

Fuji Shiraito Falls, ca. 1880

Fuji Shiraito Falls, ca. 1880

Women spinning cotton, ca. 1870

Women spinning cotton, ca. 1870

Young man and two women at Enoshima Caves, ca. 1880

Young man and two women at Enoshima Caves, ca. 1880

Fujiyama seen from Kashiwabara, ca. 1880

Fujiyama seen from Kashiwabara, ca. 1880

Geishas playing music in a tea house, ca. 1890

Geishas playing music in a tea house, ca. 1890

Gojo-zaka bamboo forest, Kyoto, Japan, ca. 1870

Gojo-zaka bamboo forest, Kyoto, Japan, ca. 1870

Horikiri's Iris Garden in Tokyo, ca. 1880

Horikiri’s Iris Garden in Tokyo, ca. 1880


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