And you can download them for free!

With more and more museums and libraries digitizing their collections, there’s a veritable treasure trove of content to explore online. One such resource is the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection, which features over 700,000 photographs, prints, maps, manuscripts, videos and other visual media, with more being added every day.

Turns out their collection includes a large number of photographs from Meiji Era (1868-1912) Japan, taken both by foreigners newly allowed in the country and Japanese photographers who quickly adopted the new technology.

Some of the photos capture iconic images of traditional Japanese culture that are still very much associated with the country today, like sumo wrestlers facing off, demure women arranging flowers and geisha dancing with fans.

Others offer more of window on what daily life was like for average Japanese.

▼Women gather shellfish near the shore.

▼ Check out those awesome tattoos!

▼ A family-run fruit store

▼ A geta sandal shop

Still others show the natural beauty of Japan, highlighting places that still turn up on most tourist itineraries.

▼ A cherry tree in Kanazawa

▼ The autumn leaves in Takinogawa, near Tokyo

▼ Mt. Fuji, of course

▼ Ichinotaki Falls in Nikko

▼ Chuzenji Lake

You can even get a glimpse of some of Japan’s most famous cities before the ravages of World War II.

▼ Maruyama, Nagasaki

▼ Nagoya

▼ Yokohama

▼ Main St. in Yokohama

▼ The bustling metropolis of Tokyo

It’s interesting to look through the pictures and see what has changed, but I’d say it’s even more interesting what hasn’t. After all, most visitors to Japan today still have Mt. Fuji and pretty young women arranging flowers on their must-see list. They’ve just added giant Gundam statues too.

H/T Japaaan
Images: NYPL Digital Collection