A look at Japan’s tumultuous 19th century in photos

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 05:16 pm

The 19th century was a period of significant transformation in Japan. The few photographs that exist provide a unique window into this fascinating period.

These images offer a glimpse into a traditional culture that was rapidly evolving and capture the essence of daily life, showcasing the people, architecture, and customs of a nation undergoing rapid modernization during the Meiji period.

Through the lens of photographers, we can experience 19th-century Japan in a way that was never possible. Join us as we delve into this captivating world.

Japanese archers practicing,1870s.

A samurai with two swords, 1868.

Empress Shōken, 1860s.

Sumo wrestling, Yokohama, 1887.

A man of the Ainu, an indigenous people of Northern Japan, c. 1880

The future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Nagasaki, 1891.

A Japanese mother and child, 1866 

Six sumo wrestlers, c. 1890

Komuso monks, 1887.

7th-century wooden village of Ikaho, 1880

Damaged photo of a Samurai, 1865.

Three farmers with their harvest, 1865

A Yamabushi (Buddhist Warrior Monk), 1895.

Photo of a samurai by Felice Beato, 1865.

Carrying rice-bales to market, 19th century

The Meiji Emperor, 1872. Photo by Uchida Kuich.

A festival. Courtesy of New York Public Library

Felice Beato geisha 7

Felice Beato geisha 8

Felice Beato samurai

Felice Beato geisha

The Japanese revolutionary, Sakamoto Ryōma, 1867

Selling brooms and baskets. Japan, 1890-1896

Final days of Samurai, C. 1868

Japanese farmer, c. 1890.


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