Japan spent the 17th and 18th period, as well as the majority of the 19th, in a state of government set isolation; Break it from the technological progress of the rest of the world. Already the country was finally opened to the international community.
It put great work into improve as quickly as possible, making photos of the traditional Japan that had existed for generations hard to come by.
Brief clips do exist, still/however, such as this interesting street scene captured in Japan in 1897, year 30 of the Meiji era.
The rustic wooden architecture and dirt street may have you thinking this is a look back at one of Japan’s small villages, but that’s not the case at all.
The street where Girel set up his camera was in the Nihonbashi district, not far from the Imperial palace, and to show just how much the surroundings has changed in the 122 years since, here’s what it looks like today.
Nihonbashi isn’t far from present day Tokyo station, where over a dozen train and subway lines, including Shinkansen bullet trains, gather.
Just 30 years after the end of Japan’s feudal era, a movie camera, as well as a foreigner himself, was still unusual in Japan. Passersby, many of whom are old enough to remember first-hand a time. When Japan was still ruled by a shogun, stop and watch at the different sight.
At one point, a stately looking gentleman rolls up in a rickshaw. When he steps down into the street, we can see that he’s paired his traditional Kimano with a western-style top hat. It’s an initial example of Japan’s enthusiasm for adopting eclectic cultural influences, and also a reminder that even the most ordinary particle of daily life can one day become an interesting preservation of a moment in history.