Old Japan Photographs

My husband Alex and I both love Japanese art and culture. Over the years we have both been able to go there a few times for various reasons and we would both count it as our favourite travel destination in the world.
Here are a few of our old pictures of traditional Japan, mainly gardens (Alex’ passion!) and old buildings (one of mine!)

Takayama - A wagon in front of an old mountain farmhouse

Takayama – A wagon in front of an old mountain farmhouse

The old mountain city of Takayama is one of Japan’s great treasures. It has many well preserved streets of old Edo-period houses, as well as Hida Folk Village, a site where old farm and village buildings from all over the region have been brought and re-assembled to ensure their preservation and to make an interesting visitor attraction.

An old water-mill near Takayama

An old water-mill near Takayama

In the West the “Japanese garden” has become a sad and empty cliché. In Japan’s old capital, Kyoto, one could visit gardens for weeks without seeing two the same. Only by going there do you comprehend that Japanese gardening is not about red-painted bridges or stone lanterns; it is about a particular treatment of space.

Renge-ji - A beautiful but little visited temple garden in the North of Kyoto

Renge-ji – A beautiful but little visited temple garden in the North of Kyoto

The sand and rock garden at the Ryoan-ji temple is a world-famous image but few people realise that the beautiful mud wall that encloses the space and gives it so much of its distinction is a later addition.

The wall surrounding the rock garden at Ryoan-ji

The wall surrounding the rock garden at Ryoan-ji

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4 thoughts on “Old Japan Photographs

  1. Wonderful! I grew up in Brazil in a city where one-third of the population was Japanese. My best friend was nissei and we are still in touch. I practically lived at her house and was exposed to the ex-pat culture from a young age (very different from the homeland culture, but some similarities). Two things that might interest you: I wrote an article about stereoviews in my old blog and one of the famous photographers from the early 1900’s was from Japan: http://fiberfocus.blogspot.com/search/label/stereoviews
    His photos are amazing!

    Then, there is this guy on Flickr, Okinawa Soba, who has amassed an enormous image collection there of vintage Japanese photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/ The great thing is that he is making them available to anyone who wants to use them. Great for collages and who knows what. He describes the history of the photos in great detail and it’s easy to just get lost there for several hours.

    I think that Old Japan was a hard place to live, but that out of the austerity and need for survival came some truly beautiful arts that live on and continue to have meaning. Your photos are great and it must have been wonderful to be there in person!

    • We used to have a couple of friends we collected stereoscopes and gave talks and shows with them. I think they had lots of pictures from 19th century China.
      The Japanese photos on Flickr are great! I will spend some time soon going through all the folders.
      Wai-Yuk

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